Sub-theme 73: The Ontology Strikes Back: Exploring Time–Space Remoteness through Ontological Inquiries

Pierre Guillet de Monthoux
Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, & CBS, Denmark
Friederike Döbbe
School of Management, University of Bath, Bath UK
François-Xavier de Vaujany
Université Paris Dauphine-PSL (DRM), France

Call for Papers

Ontologies: Worlds beyond knowledge

If, by chance, any philosophy slips into MOS, it has been epistemological. The struggle has been to secure a correspondence with reality; an ‘out there’ supposed to fit an unproblematic model of time-space worlds. Ontologies – what is – have been taken for granted. But the world is trembling. It shivers and resists. But it is in crises of climate change, gender, race and others that new ontologies (Glissant, 1993; Obrist & Raza, 2017) seem to emerge as a wildfire volcano of vibrant matter (Bennett, 2010) that overthrows a world of a Kantian space-time ‘out there.’
In continuous with purely epistemological obsessions, Time and Space (T&S) have often been treated separately within organization and management studies (Czarniawska, 2004; de Vaujany, 2022; Helin, 2020; Jones et al, 2004), as things that needed to be re-presented. In terms of time, research has integrated temporal analyses in a wide range of areas such as change, identity, or narratives. Importantly, extant studies moved from a clock-time perspective to foregrounding eventfulness and process-based views through ontological notions such as speed, rhythms, durations, depth, becoming, images and events. As part of this ontological concern, research theorized how temporal tensions occur when different temporalities interact (Slawinski & Bansal, 2015), how distant futures are translated into the present (Hernes & Schultz, 2020), or how temporally portable frames serve as “stepping-stones” into the future (Nyberg et al., 2020). Touching this situatedness (Hernes & Schultz, 2020) is even urgent. Writing and art-based experimentations can be key transtemporal or vertical practices (Helin, 2020), in particular in a post-epistemological attempt at integrating imagination and perception (Ricoeur, 1961). Images themselves, in particular ‘time-images’, can also help to explore remote pasts and futures and experiment with this process (de Vaujany, 2022).
The happening of the world ontologically spaces it and more or less openly emplaces it (Schatzki, 2010). A lover once said, “my house is now, in your arms” to the one she loved. She did not say “my house is in your arms now” or “my house is in your arms. A ‘now’ or a larger present is necessary for the flesh, materiality, textures and more generally, organizational space, to happen. The happening of the world also puts into conversation the spatium with the aïon, a spatiality at stake in memory with the continuous becoming of experience (Deleuze, 1977; de Vaujany, 2022), also revealing the ontological inseparability between T&S.

A time-space inseparability in the making

To contribute to these post-epistemological discussions in the context of management and organization studies, we propose a focus on discussing the ontology of T&S and their inseparability in organizing. Key process philosophers (e.g., Alexander, 1920; Whitehead, 1929; Deleuze & Guattari, 1988) and phenomenologists (Heidegger, 1927, 1951; Merleau-Ponty, 1945, 1946; see de Vaujany, Aroles & Pérezts, 2023) have offered important in-between theories, strongly emphasizing the inseparability of time and space and the search for new non-idealist social ontologies (Ásta, 2018; Burman, 2023). You can think of nisus and time-space in Alexander’s (1920) cosmology; the theory of volumes in Whitehead's (1929) metaphysics; depth, visibility and enfleshment in Merleau-Ponty’s (1964) indirect ontology; Bachelard's (1931) view of verticality and poetics of space: Arendt’s (1972) view of culture in crisis; Deleuze’s (1993) view of folds, spatium and nomadology or Braidotti’s (2013) posthumanist view of time-space. Outside of philosophy, sociologists and anthropologists have proposed moves to relational ontologies such as Gaia (Latour, 2017), resonance (Rosa, 2018), and spheres or bubbles (Sloterdijk, 2011).
In the context of this sub-theme, we want to explore in particular the role of remote space and time at stake in present and contemporary organizationality, by focusing on the inseparability of time and space and the role of ontology and ontogenesis. We ponder about questions such as: How do organizational orders, the structuring and temporalization of roles, tasks, boundaries, and rhythms at stake in collective activity, draw and play with temporal and spatial remoteness? How does the inseparability of time and space impact organizing for climate change and other grand challenges? How can various ontological views inform our understanding of responses to these crises across time and space? How can art and new ways of writing research capture, play with and enact these time-space explorations? Those questions, and others, are particularly important in the context of the climate crisis, where “traces” from remote pasts haunt present organizing (Nyberg et al., 2022).
Against this backdrop, we set out to further explore time, space and their inseparability by foregrounding an interest in the role of ontology and ontogenesis. We invite contributions likely to explore the following topics (not exhaustive):

  • Ontology of time, space and their inseparability in organizing

  • Ontology of remoteness and co-presence in MOS

  • Alternative ontological views of historicity in MOS

  • Ontogenesis and the time-space of organizing or ontology versus time-space?

  • Backdrop and bedrock ontologies – making MOS ontologies visible

  • The time-space and rhythms of collective activity over longue durée

  • Consequences of a collapse of time and space: new forms being?

  • Exploration of remote pasts and futures in the context of socio-ecological crises

  • Political ontologies of socio-ecological crises and how they are addressed, specifically climate change

  • Ontologies that recognize and respect nature: relation, posthuman, neo-animist

  • Broken ontologies

  • Exploring transtemporal links between strategic values in time and space

  • Organizing and working remotely in space and time: Nomadologies and more

  • More from scene to plateau in organizing and distributing work in time and space

  • The philosophical foundation and relevance of organizational time-space investigations

  • Methodological inquiries to understand ontologies

  • Writing and narrating ontologies

  • Worldmaking as poetic and artistic ontologies



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  • Arendt, H., & Mattei, F. (1972). La crise de la culture. Gallimard.
  • Ásta (2018). Categories we live by: The construction of sex, gender, race, and other social categories. Oxford University Press.
  • Bachelard, G. (1931, 1995). L’intuition de l’instant. Stock.
  • Bennett, J. (2010) Vibrant matter. Duke University Press.
  • Braidotti, R. (2013). The posthuman. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Burman, A. (2023). Nonideal social ontology. The power. Oxford University Press.
  • Czarniawska, B. (2004). On time, space, and action nets. Organization, 11(6), 773-791.
  • Deleuze, G. (1977). Le bergsonisme. PUF.
  • Deleuze, G. (1993). The fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F., (1988). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Athlone.
  • De Vaujany, F. X. (2022). Imagining the name of the rose with Deleuze: Organizational and self world-making on the screen. Culture and Organization, 1-21.
  • De Vaujany, FX., Aroles, J. and Pérezts, M. (Eds) (2023). The Oxford Handbook of Phenomenologies and Organization Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Heidegger, M. (1927, 1996). Being and time: A translation of Sein und Zeit. SUNY Press.
  • Heidegger, M. (1951). Building, dwelling, thinking. Visual Culture: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, 3, 66–76.
  • Helin, J. (2020). Temporality lost: A feminist invitation to vertical writing that shakes the ground. Organization, 1350508420956322.
  • Hernes, T., & Schultz, M. (2020). Translating the distant into the present: How actors address distant past and future events through situated activity. Organization Theory, 1(1), 2631787719900999.
  • Jones, G., McLean, C., & Quattrone, P. (2004). Spacing and timing. Organization, 11(6), 723–741.
  • Laasch, O., Lindebaum, D., & Caza, A. (2022) Constructing ontological foundations for management learning and education research. AMLE21, 525–531.
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945). Phénoménologie de la perception. Gallimard.
  • Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964). Le visible et l’invisible. Gallimard.
  • Nyberg, D., Wright, C., & Kirk, J. (2020). Fracking the future: The temporal portability of frames in political contests. Organization Studies41(2), 175–196.
  • Nyberg, D., Ferns, G., Vachhani, S., & Wright, C. (2022). Climate change, business, and society: Building relevance in time and space. Business & Society61(5), 1322–1352.
  • Obrist, H,. & Raza. A. (2017). Mondialité or the archipelagos of Edouard Glissant. Skira.
  • Ricoeur, P. (1961). Le philosophe foudroyé, Christianisme social, 69/56, (1961) mai-juin, pp. 389-395.
  • Schatzki, T. R. (2010). The timespace of human activity: On performance, society, and history as indeterminate teleological events. Lexington Books.
  • Slawinski, N., & Bansal, P. (2015). Short on time: Intertemporal tensions in business sustainability. Organization Science, 26, 531–549.
  • Whitehead, AN. (1929, 1978). Process and Reality. An essay in cosmology. The Free Press.
Pierre Guillet de Monthoux is Professor at Stockholm School of Economics (SSE), Sweden, and at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark. He is interested in the relationship between art, poesy and organizing. His ongoing research deals with Bachelard, e.g. his vertical approach of time and temporality.
Friederike Döbbe is a Lecturer in Business & Society at the School of Management at University of Bath, UK. She obtained her PhD from Stockholm School of Economics. Friederike is an organization scholar particularly interested in corporate and political responses to climate change and environmental sustainability. She studies how responsibility for climate change is negotiated, contested and deferred between different societal actors.
François-Xavier de Vaujany is Professor of Management & Organization Studies at Université Paris Dauphine-PSL (DRM), France, and active promoter of open science’s practices. François-Xavier is interested in new ways of working and organizing, the relationship between management and alternative forms of (open) society, and time-space dimensions of organizing in a digital era. He draws on sensible and pragmatic ontologies to explore work, management and digitality.