Future and organization studies: On the rediscovery of a problematic temporal category in organizations

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Even though organizational activities have always been future-oriented, actors’ fascination with the future is not a universal phenomenon of organizational life. Human experience of the future is a rather young product of modernity, in which actors discovered the indeterminacy of the future, as well as their abilities to ‘make’ and, in part, even control and de-problematize it through ever-more sophisticated planning practices. In this essay, we argue that actors have recently ‘rediscovered’ the future as a problematic, open-ended category in organizational life, one that they cannot delineate through planning practices alone. This, we suggest, has been produced through a pluralization of what we refer to as ‘future-making practices’, a set of practices through which actors produce and enact the future. Based on illustrations of the experienced problematic open-endedness of the future in prevalent discourses such as climate change, digital transformation and post-truth politics, we invite scholars to explore future-making practices as an important but under-appreciated organizational phenomenon.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1441-1455
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2020

Bibliographical note

The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION based on funds from the Ministry for Science, Research, and Culture of the State of Brandenburg.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

    Research areas

  • Management studies - future, future-making practices, modernity, planning, Practice theory, temporality