All for One, One for All! From Events to Organizational Dynamics in Fluid Organization
This article examines the emergence of organizational dynamics in the context of fluid organizational phenomena. To do so, three organizational dynamics are studied: (1) identity, (2) actorhood, and (3) interconnected instances of decision-making. To study how these three organizational dynamics take shape in the context of fluid organizational phenomena, I rely on the events-based approach and a case study of makers operating in a makerspace in the Paris region. The results show, on the one hand, that the collective of makers enacts a structure of past, present, and future events that participates in the definition of a common frame of reference and, on the other hand, that this common frame of reference plays a role in the emergence of organizational dynamics. On the basis of this result, my main contribution is to show the role of the eventalization – that is, the definition, configuration and narration by the actors of past, present, and future events – in the definition of organizational dynamics in fluid organizational phenomena. This article contributes on the one hand to the literature on fluid organizational phenomena, and on the other hand to the literature on makers working in makerspaces.
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1. I propose to retain only the expression ‘fluid organizational phenomenon’ in the remainder of this article in order to emphasize the evolving and constantly changing nature of the organizational phenomena I propose to study. On the other hand, the expression ‘open organization’ seems more ambiguous, as it sometimes refers to phenomena with predefined boundaries in which there may be a certain openness to the outside (business networks, ecosystems, etc.) and/or in the internal decision-making processes.
2. That is, workers who have a legal status of self-employment, resulting in the absence of superiors or subordinates. There is therefore no legal relationship of subordination between these workers and their coworkers.
3. I will use the notion of organizational dynamics to underline the permanent effort that must be made by the actors to produce and maintain them, especially in the context of fluid organizational phenomena. By contrast, the notion of organizational characteristics that is sometimes found in the literature on organization theory may refer to the hypothesis that the organization is endowed with intrinsic properties.
4. I refer here to the theoretical corpus based on the hypothesis that the organization is an economic or social entity with its own structure that forces the actors to conform to it. For a critical analysis of this conception of organization, see, for example, the work of Chia (1995, 2003).
5. The notion of eventalization was first suggested by Foucault (2000 p. 226). For the philosopher, the eventalization is a methodological approach consisting in ‘making visible a singularity at places where there is a temptation to invoke a historical constant, an immediate anthropological trait or an obviousness that imposes itself uniformly on all.’ Following the events-based approach, the notion of eventalization is here used as a way to focus on how actors re/define and narrate past, present, and future events that help them to define and legitimate who they are, their purpose, and what they do.
6. It is important to note that for Dobusch and Schoeneborn (2015, p. 1006), these three dynamics are interconnected: ‘Our notion of organizationality draws on the idea that social collectives are ‘organizational’ on the basis of three criteria: first, they are characterized by interconnected instances of decision-making (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2011); second, these instances of decision-making are attributed to a collective entity or actor (King et al., 2010); third, collective identity is accomplished through speech acts that aim to delineate what the entity or actor is or does (‘identity claims’; see Bartel & Dutton, 2001).’ I will follow this approach, but in this article, I will carry out an analytical dissection that will allow us to study the formation of these various dynamics.
7. A distinction is made between the present and the lived moment because, in order to define a lived moment, actors can enact various present events that are taking place simultaneously, for example, in different places and with different people (Hussenot, 2019).
8. ICI Montreuil’s staff evolves according to need. This is the description of the makerspace staff between 2014 and 2015, the period during which I was making my observations.
9. Figures collected on the city’s website: www.montreuil.fr (accessed in December 2016).
10. There is a hesitation between the notions of coworking, makerspace, creative space, etc. At that time, the vocabulary to designate these new phenomena had not yet stabilized.
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