For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Time and play in management practice: An investigation through the philosophies of McTaggart and Heidegger"

by Bakken, Tore; Holt, Robin; Zundel, Mike (2013)


Following the work of the idealist philosopher John McTaggart, we argue studies of management practice use two senses of socially constructed time, distinguished as A and B series. In B series, time is spatialized into calculable instants allowing the structuring and intensification of commercial activity into sequences of means and ends, something that that aids exploitation. In A series, time is akin to experience in which the future and past are open to subjects’ imagination and interpretation, something that aids exploration. We then extend this theorization of time in management practice; specifically we conceptually develop A series by considering the intimacy between time, experience and existence. Drawing on the work of Heidegger we develop another idea of time – ‘world time’ – in which altogether different possibilities for managerial practice may be glanced, ones associated with experiment and play in which time is no longer something to be saved, or made use of, because time is no longer understood as a resource, or even a thing. World time, we argue, develops the work of James March, by de-coupling exploration from exploitation; no longer is one in the service of the other.

Key Passage

Martin Heidegger’s ‘world time’, opens the possibility for management practice to experience time outside of the interplay between B and A series senses of time. Experiencing world time requires of management practice less of the partial and localized relaxation of a guiding hand (manus), and more an encouragement of self and others to stay a while (verweilen) with things and events without attempting to enlistthem as means for extraneous ends. This sense of world time can reveal different senses of how things matter to us. What is required for such is an affective power that takes hold of us, concerns us, draws us in, so that we forget ourselves, while dispensing of one’s time for a while. World time runs counter to the form of management arising from specialization in which workers and managers alike are de-situated from themselves and others through the industrialized rhythm of clock time in which all objects are to assume a correct place. (p.21)


Adam Smith, Division Of Labour, Mctaggart, Process, Heidegger, Time, Practice, Play


On Heidegger

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