New research centre: the real challenge is time
When a company explains their efforts in getting to where they are at today, wins and losses are often demonstrated by means of a time line going from the initial strategy negotiations and up to today, where the strategy has been implemented. Time appears linear through a chronological series of events and achievements.
However, when you - as professors Tor Hernes og Majken Schultz have done - ask the company CEO more explicitly what led to this and that, the picture turns out to be far more complex. The long straight line becomes several tangled lines reflecting different processes and cause-and-effect coherence.
At the inauguration of the centre on 22 January, Tor Hernes, director of the new centre under The Department of Organization, outlined how there is a need for theories, models and data about time whether we talk about time as experience, history, a future project or a unit of measurement.
“We wish to be an including, eclectic and questioning research environment. And we are going to keep asking how time is perceived within different disciplines. Major problems are too major for us to be content with merely drawing on organisational research. We wish to create a field of resonance and be essential to the thinking in the field,” says Tor Hernes in an interview about the purpose of the centre.
The unavoidably important and accelerating time
The inauguration of the new centre provided plenty of opportunities to explore some of the different perspectives on time that exist in CBS’ research environments.
Professor Lasse Heje at the Department of Finance talked about the importance of time within his field, both in terms of research, but also for the financial market players, who are engaged in the current value of investments and the optimal time for making short- or long-term investments. Time is simply unavoidable.
Professor Jan Damsgaard at the Department of Digitalization addressed digital time vs. analogous time, his main point being that the development of digital technology in relation to chronological time is exponential, as we have seen in the Human Genome Project, where the procurement of data virtually doubled from one year to the next. The project period was halved from 15 to 7 years. Digital time accelerates in relation to analogous time.
See the programme for the inauguration of the Centre for Organizational Time
The grand abstract challenge
After having speculated about time for a number of years, Tor Hernes had the idea for the new centre. He recognises that the research field is abstract, but at the same time he stresses that time calls for thinking about time:
”Within organisation and strategy research you are working with Grand Challenges within for instance development and environment, where you have to look far into the future to avoid putting global sustainability at risk,” he explains and continues:
”If what we are doing today is significant in 50 years, how do we in fact go about it in an economic cycle, where only the next 3-5 years are what matters? It is not a mystery, but we have to think about how to handle such issues.”
Get to work
Tor Hernes and his colleagues Christina Lubinski, Associate Professor at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Silviya Svejenova, Professor at the Department of Organization, and Majken Schultz, Professor at the Department of Organization, are now rolling up their sleeves to position an understudied phenomenon within research. The centre is applying for a grant with the VELUX FOUNDATIONS, and the European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS) has accepted a so-called ”Standing Working Group” within the theme ”Organization and Time”, which runs for four to six years. At the same time, it is also about being present at conferences - preferably as tracks and keynotes - but the primary task is to publish. The centre researchers are already collaborating with a significant international network, which is going to intensify its activities in the years to come.
For more information, please contact:
Professor Tor Hernes
Journalist Jørn Albertus