As the world changes, new types of organization are emerging. The old hierarchical models, grounded in long-established ideas about command and control, rationality, and linearity, are being found to be unfit for purpose. Alternative ways of doing business, and an explosion of technologically-mediated communications, are fuelling the development of organizations which are more flexible, transparent, and purposeful.

My research interrogates how these new types of organization respond to surprising events. The ‘rules of the game’, as taught to managers in business schools across the world, suggest that ‘being surprised’ is a state of poor management; that ‘being surprised’ results from a lack of knowledge, or a lack of attention. Instead, new types of organization (who, perhaps, are driven by organizational purpose rather than organizational profit) experience ‘being surprised’ very differently. For them, ‘being surprised’ is not only seen as inevitable, it is essential.

My data set (documents, observations, interviews, and reflections drawn from an 18-month study of an ‘alternative’ organization) suggests that these new types of organization are well-equipped to deal with the unknown and the unexpected. This is noteworthy, given that they leave behind many of the assumptions which underpin functionalist management. This research reveals something of interest in the principles by which an organization is organized, and the core values that underpin those principles. It may even suggest a new organizational paradox: that new types of organization embrace digital ways of working and yet elevate human ways of working in a way not captured by old hierarchical models.

If you'd like to connect with me and my research with a view to conversation or collaboration then please contact me. I'd be delighted to hear from you.

 Oxford Brookes University, Headington Campus

Oxford Brookes University, Headington Campus