Publication 8006

Brocklesby J. (2009) Plugging the theoretical gaps: How autopoietic theory can contribute to process-based organizational research. In: Magalhães R. & Sanchez R. (eds.) Autopoiesis in organizations and information systems. Emerald, Bingley: 149–167.
Excerpt: Despite its popularity in some quarters, autopoietic theory has not achieved the sort of profile in the field of organization studies that one might have expected. Typically it has been employed to shed light on specific issues that are of interest to a limited number of organizational scholars. To date it has not been opened up to a wider potential audience through being aligned with a more general organizational research paradigm. This chapter has suggested that the recent turn toward a process and language-based approach in organizational studies provides fertile ground for autopoietic theory to play a more central role. Specifically, I have argued that it can plug some important theoretical gaps that exist in this literature. In particular, the chapter has sought to demonstrate that autopoietic theory can be helpful in specifying a number of important things more precisely than is the case elsewhere. These include: the process through which human beings interact, the process through which they influence one another, and through which they change over time; the action and behavioral basis of language; the nature of conversations and dialogue and the role that these play in generating meaning; and the relationship between the individual and the social. In addition, autopoietic theory is able to contextualize the relationship between power, meaning, and action by showing how power may not always be the dominant emotional predisposition that governs social relations.
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