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A quantum approach to time and organizational change

Lord, R.G.; Dinh, J.; Hoffman, E.


J. Dinh

E. Hoffman


Prevailing perspectives on time and change are often grounded in underlying assumptions regarding the forward-movement of time and the relative stability of attributes. In combination, these assumptions foster theories of organizational evolution as a linear progression of a past that moves to the present to the future. While useful in many respects, this perspective obscures the uncertainty inherent in emerging organizational phenomena, and it offers little insight into the rare and unpredictable events that change the course of history. To address these concerns, we draw upon quantum mechanics and quantum probability theories to present a Quantum Approach to Time and Change as a framework for understanding organizational complexity and time. This perspective conceptualizes the future as existing in a state of potentiality that collapses to form the present based on constraints that act upon organizational systems. This approach may better account for the observed variability within organizational systems, and it also accounts for common decision making errors that lead to organizational failures within uncertain environments. In addition, it explains how organizations (or societies) can experience unforeseen potentialities that radically change their development. Our theory has broad implications for organizational theory and research, as well as management practice.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 15, 2014
Publication Date Apr 1, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 15, 2014
Journal Academy of Management Review
Print ISSN 0363-7425
Electronic ISSN 1930-3807
Publisher Academy of Management
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 2
Pages 263-290
Public URL