Edited by Tyrone S. Pitsis, Ace Simpson and Erlend Dehlin
Psychological research suggests that ‘people want their lives to be predictable, orderly, and sensible, and they fear chaos, randomness, and unpleasant surprises’ (Hogan and Shelton, 1998, p. 130). Organizations provide the type of environment that is supposed to guarantee order, predictability and routine. In fact, the theory of organizations can be viewed in historical terms as a campaign in which the protagonists were organizing against uncertainty. Organizations, much as the people that make them, have been regarded as fearful of chaos, randomness and surprise. In fact, surprise and organization are almost antonyms: to be organized is supposed to make us immune to surprise; to be surprised suggests that one was not organized sufficiently to have anticipated something or other. Fear of uncertainty is unfortunate because all but the most boring of organizations must confront it. Organizational life, when interesting, complex and realistically grasped, is full of chaos (Stacey, 1991), randomness (Taleb, 2004) and surprise (Watkins and Bazerman, 2003). As Farazmand (2009, p. 406) argued, ‘The age of rapid globalization, information technologies, and nonlinear chaotic changes dictates the prescription of “surprise” as the “most commanding dimension of uncertainty” and hyper-complexity.’ It is hardly strange to be surprised as an organizational actor by the random and chaotic nature of events. Indeed, it would be unusual to be unperturbed, to exist in a state of blissful repetition or boring routine – depending on one’s predilections.
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