Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management., Organisation Theory, History

Publication Details

Academy of Management Annual Meeting. Anaheim, CA, USA, August, 2008.


The topic of organizational form has been gaining increased attention. Often portrayed as ‘new times’ driving the need for new forms, what is more evident in the literature is that the need for new ways of looking at form has yet to be addressed. The problem that “new organizational form” presents is precisely located in the inability of the field to think in other than “form” itself. By problematizing the focus on “form,” I take issue with the largely ahistorical and aprocessual character of much organizational theorizing and with the privilege obtained by modernist paradigmatic approaches in such theorizing. With this as my point of departure, I argue for knowing the organizational as an ongoing process – i.e., “forming” over knowing “organizational form” by way of classification – and ask: How to arrive at processual knowing that might escape the modernist thirst for classification? Addressing this question, I make a case for abandoning modernity in favor of adopting a way of thinking, a metatheoretical framing, that facilitates conversing differently about what we currently call “organizational form.” In elaborating on this framing, I explore the tenets underpinning conventional thinking about these issues, with a view to exposing their limitations and clarifying the grounds on which an alternative approach might be possible. As such, the aim of this paper is a contribution at the conceptual level towards a more processual and historically informed theory of the organizational that brings us out of the limitations imposed by extant theorizing on the topic.