When Times Collide: Temporal Brokerage at the Intersection of Markets and Development
Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming
63 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 21, 2014
We study the influence of a pervasive Western organizational mentality – clock-time orientation – in market-based models for human development. While a linear, clock-time orientation optimized for markets is meant to enhance efficiency, coordination and control, it may be unsuitable for managing emergent, complex and indeterminate processes such as development. To examine how the tension between market and development temporalities plays out at the organizational level, we draw on an ethnography of Fairtrade International, an organization connecting markets in the North with low income community development in the South. We examine intra-organizational contestation over different temporal structures needed to entrain to discrepant temporal environments. We explain how contestation, temporal reflexivity, interpretive shifts and mutual appreciation of interdependencies led to the reconstitution of Fairtrade’s development model to bridge competing temporal structures. We contribute by 1) elucidating an agentic view of time, where time is used as a cultural resource to regulate attention and render social phenomena amenable to particular types of managerial action; 2) developing the notion of “ambitemporality,” where organizations accommodate seemingly contradictory temporal orientations and 3) explaining how deep seated Western organizational mentalities truncate the power of development models and how these models may benefit from embracing processual approaches, associated with Eastern thought.
Keywords: Time, clock, temporal brokerage, temporal work, boundary organizations
JEL Classification: M1, M14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation