The themes that seem most important to me at this time:

#netnography #ethnography #digital #online #anthropology #qualitative #phenomenon #surprise #strategy #decisions #leaders #managers #organizing #organization #alternative #reflection #self-reflection #humanist #experience

I’m a university researcher who is fascinated by the phenomenon of ‘surprise’, and all it does to help us get better or worse at the things we do. In my research, I explore this through the lens of ‘alternative’ organizations, and critically assess and evaluate what this knowledge can teach us about ourselves and others. Just think. If we are wrong about 'surprise', then maybe we are also wrong about other things we think we can command and control ... other people, the things they do, and the environments in which they do them.

Surprising alternative organizations: an investigation into the phenomenon of ‘surprise’ within ‘alternative’ organizations.

Think of ‘surprise’ as a discrepant event which triggers the need for explanation. It has been demonstrated that ‘surprise’ is a phenomenon of central importance to organizations, because it challenges some fundamental assumptions that are made about how organizations attempt to exert control over control people, activity, and wider environments. Much of what we know about ‘surprise’ exists in the context of traditional organizations, and we know much less about ‘surprise’ within ‘alternative’ organizations. And whilst it isn’t always easy to articulate what is ‘alternative’, and for the purpose of this investigation, we understand them to be open to a wider range of possibilities in respect of the decisions they take and the choices they make in the pursuit of organizing.

The principal aim of my research is to explore how ‘surprise’ is experienced within, responded to, and impacts upon ‘alternative’ organizations.

A popular explosion in ‘alternative’ organizations suggests that there are implications pertaining to ‘surprise’ across a broader spectrum than has previously been considered. There are two important clusters of thinking on ‘alternative’ organizations: (i) in the practice-oriented, organization literature (which seeks to advance the conditions of workplace); and, (ii) in the critical management literature (which challenges conceptualisations of work, employment, and society, often from a post-neoliberal perspective). From this, we commonly understand that solidity, permanence, and orderliness are characteristics of mainstream organizations, whilst positions of greater autonomy, solidarity, and responsibility are better indicators of ‘alternative’ organizations.

My research posits that the phenomenon of ‘surprise’ may have a potential which is as yet untapped, and which may be best uncovered within the ‘alternative’.

‘Surprise’ is often cast in a negative light, and this investigation seeks to address this by reevaluating the dominant discourse which emphasises rules and rationality at the expense of the transient and imperfect nature of organizations. This taps into a number of practical and theoretical debates which challenge dominant ideas about organizations, particularly in respect of how organizing can appear at odds with the prevailing discourse around the rights, capacities, and agency of individuals, and wider socio-environmental issues.

Follow my progress on my research blog , where I will regularly post reflections on what I've discovered and (just as importantly) how I feel about it.

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