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Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
Chapter 13: Making Sense of Organizational Becoming: The Need for Essential Stabilities in Organizational Change
13 Making sense of organizational becoming: the need for essential stabilities in organizational change Ian Colville It is in the realm of the glimpsed potential that the future takes shape. Seamus Heaney Sensemaking is in the nature of the reﬂective glance. Karl Weick Introduction A driving assumption behind process thinking is that social reality is not a steady state but a dynamic process (Pettigrew, 1997) which in turn, leads us to questions of organizational change. These emphases on process and dynamism are most clearly brought together in Tsoukas and Chia’s (2002) recent rethinking of organizational change. Traditional approaches to change, they say, have been dominated by assumptions privileging stability, routine and order, giving rise to the view of stability being the norm and change being the exception. However, if you assume that the essence of life is its continuously changing character, as Tsoukas and Chia argue, then change rather than stability is the norm. This reversal of ontological priorities from stability to change sensitizes us to how pervasive change already is and allows us to see that change is always potentially there, if only we care to look for it (2002: 568). This looking for change involves searching for micro processes that make change constitutive of reality. The ongoing and dynamic aspect of change is conveyed by Tsoukas and Chia through the term ‘organizational becoming’. This parallels Pettigrew’s observation that human conduct is perpetually in a process of becoming, hence the overriding aim of the process analyst is to...
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