Over 20 years ago, AMR published a special issue highlighting the importance of a “temporal lens” for understanding management phenomena (Ancona, Goodman, Lawrence, & Tushman, 2001). Since then, the concept of time has illuminated much of management studies, garnering important insights into individual and team development, organizational history, processes, and routines, and issues of sustainability. Scholars are now exploring time-variant relationships with rich longitudinal datasets. However, the theoretical development of time has lagged behind the empirical work, with many time-related concepts underexplored (e.g., horizon, pace, rhythm, trajectory, timing, momentum, sequence, temporal structures, temporal depth, temporal work and many more). Seeing management without temporal dimensions creates blind spots and distortions similar to those experienced when seeing the earth as a two-dimensional map.
Time is a critical dimension in understanding management, organizations, and societies, especially in periods of profound change. This Special Topic Forum seeks not only to expand theorizing about time, timing, and temporality, but also to respond to contemporary developments in societal and organizational contexts. We call for contributions that foreground time-related theorizing, with specific management or organizational content domains (if included) serving as the context. We ask contributors to illuminate how time-related theorizing speaks to issues or challenges facing individual, teams, organizational and societies.
We are broadly interested in the role that time plays in how processes unfold; how individuals, teams and organizations engage with, navigate, manipulate, or experience time; and the impact time or timing has on performance, adaptation, change, or social movements. The list of the ways in which time can illuminate management studies is intentionally broad, as the domain itself is largely underexplored. Therefore, we encourage a wide range of submissions that span management disciplines, levels of analysis, geographies, and styles of theorizing. Papers can be philosophical or more applied. We also welcome submissions that draw from non-management disciplines to inform temporal theorizing in management and organizational research. We are intentional in our desire to include diverse voices and global perspectives.
In sum, we envision this special issue as providing deeper understanding of time to clarify and enhance knowledge that can explain phenomena important to management studies. By looking at the state of the art across the entire field of management (and beyond), we expect these articles to identify the progress that has been made in the past two decades and push temporal theorizing further to lay a foundation for future management research.
If you have any concerns about the relevance of your ideas to this special issue, we encourage you to reach out to one of the Special Topic Forum editors. Below are a few examples of research topics that could fit the scope of this Special Topic Forum, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
How do individuals change over time? How do processes associated with aging, goal trajectories, domain experience, and the dynamics of motivation affect such change? How do individuals make sense of time as they experience its passage, such as by using narratives or interpreting their identities across time? How do these experiences change the way in which they manage or organize, leading to a more diverse set of individual, team, or organizational outcomes?
How do teams change over time—have we moved beyond phase models of team development? How do these processes relate to the ways in which team members make sense of time subjectively, such as team mental models?
How do organizations change or evolve over time and do these trajectories influence organizational outcomes? Can time-related concepts explain differences in positive (or negative), individual, organizational, or societal outcomes? Relatedly, how do organizations (and the people within) make sense of time subjectively through managerial cognition, such as top managers’ temporal focus? How do organizational members construct time, through their language or actions, to influence organizational outcomes?
How are macro-environments and organizational fields affected by the passage of time? Institutionalization and institutional change are usually associated with action over an extended period of time. However, there may be instances where the passage of time for substantive macro-level change varies; why and how does this happen?
How do temporal processes at the micro-, meso-, and macro-levels of analysis interact within and beyond organizations and with what effect? How much can organizational views of time shape employee views of time or are these views fixed upon organizational entry (i.e., a form of temporal fit)? Is there anything leaders can do to change perceptions of time in a team, organization, or institutional field? Similarly, what happens when the temporal assumptions of different individuals, groups, or organizations collide? How do people negotiate/reconcile conflicts in temporal perspectives? What are the key contingencies that might explain these processes and their outcomes?
Much research speaks to clock-time aspects of temporal structures and the longitudinal models they spur, yet subjective time is critical to individual behaviors and collective organizing. How do individuals and collectives retrospectively account for and prospectively anticipate experiences? Further, time is not only perceived cognitively, it is also felt. How do affective reactions to the past and anticipated emotions about the future influence organizational actions and outcomes?
Time is construed differently across cultures and languages. What can we learn about these differences and how can these differences inform how we manage and organize, especially in contributing to a diversity of organizational outcomes?
To what extent is the perceived duration of time important for existing theories of individual and collective experiences? For example, how does the perception of “slow versus fast” as well as “early versus late” shape motivation, cognition, and performance? How can we understand specific motivational impulses, such as patience and impatience, that inherently combine clock time with subjective experiences of time?
How does time function as a resource? Substantial theory explains how managers discount future sums of money. But time itself is an important input because building a sustainable business requires investments of time—both today and in the future. How do organizational members perceive and value their future time commitments, and what are the consequences for their choices and behavior?
The identification and management of grand challenges with inherent time-related properties, such as climate change, income inequality, biodiversity, social movements, and pandemics raise important questions. How do organizational and societal processes unfold when they involve multiple generations of people? How can time-related theorizing help to solve these grand challenges?
Ancona, D. G., Goodman, P. S., Lawrence, B. S., & Tushman, M. L. (2001). Time: A new research lens. Academy of Management Review, 26(4), 645-663.