Handbook of Research on Management and Organizational History
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Handbook of Research on Management and Organizational History

Edited by Kyle Bruce

Emerging from what was a somewhat staid sub-discipline, there is currently a battle for the soul of Management and Organizational History (MOH), at the centre of which is a widespread concern that much recent work has been more about how one should or might do history rather than actually doing historical work. If ever there was a time for a new volume on MOH, this is certainly it.
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Chapter 8: Towards a Zen-informed approach to management and organizational history

Tianyuan Yu, Albert J. Mills and Jean Helms Mills

Abstract

This chapter proposes a radically different starting point for consideration of the epistemological character of management and organizational history – a Zen-informed approach that is neither wholly Western nor Eastern in the twenty-first century but a way of rethinking knowledge that crosses geopolitical boundaries. The authors start by reconfiguring Burrell and Morgan’s sociological framework, informed by the Zen spirit of non-duality and non-attachment. The proposed ‘global model’ provides an innovative solution to the problem of paradigm incommensurability. They also suggest that the symbolic representation of Zen in management and organization studies is something ‘global’ in contrast to the bipolar, linear, two-dimensional matrices typical in Western theoretical constructions. Accordingly, a Zen approach is a hybrid version or a multi-paradigm approach. The authors use a cross-cultural study of a social phenomenon – the divergent discourses on the Weberian notion of bureaucracy in China and Canada – to explore the potential of a Zen-informed approach.

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