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Literary praxiphorical analysis: Using science fiction and fantasy to shape organizational futures

Keane JF, Graham G & Burnes B (2014) Literary praxiphorical analysis: Using science fiction and fantasy to shape organizational futures. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 84, pp. 54-65.

In the last two decades, organization theorists have sought to apply complexity theories developed in the natural sciences to the study of organizations. This article develops a fictional approach for critically interrogating two important complexity concepts - order-through-fluctuations and autopoiesis. Using these concepts in a metaphorical sense, this paper explores how science fiction and fantasy (SFF) can be used to prepare for and shape organizational analysis. Exploring the consequences of scientific innovation is a key purpose of SFF. The speculative nature of the genre makes it a fertile metaphorical ground for testing new management concepts. This article, therefore, uses two classic SFF novels to explore the metaphorical use of complexity concepts for organizational analysis: i. William Golding's Lord of the Flies is used to explore the dissipative structures model, a theory devised by Ilya Prigogine; and ii. Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars is used to explore autopoiesis, a theory devised by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela. The article outlines the theoretical modeling possibilities from embedding fictional constructs into critical organizational analysis. It concludes by summarizing the methodological guidelines and business contexts for implementing literary praxiphorical analysis.

Prigogine; Order-through-fluctuations; Autopoiesis; Maturana; Varela; Science fiction; Speculative literature; Fantasy; Organizations; Change; Management

Technological Forecasting and Social Change: Volume 84

Author(s)Keane, John F; Graham, Gary; Burnes, Bernard
Publication date31/05/2014
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