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Multi-temporality and the ghostly: How communing with times past informs organizational futures

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Charles Harvey



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Despite growing interest in time, history, and memory, we lack an understanding of the multi-temporal reality of organizations - how past, present and future intersect to inform organizational life. In assuming that legacies are conveyed from past to present, there has been little theorization on how this works practically. We propose that the lexicon of the ghostly can help. We contribute a theory of ghostly influence from past to future by offering a framework focusing on core moments of organizational existence: foundation, strategic change, and longevity commemoration, and illustrate this use a case study of the consumer goods multinational Procter & Gamble (1930-2010). In showing that organizational ghosts, absent members whose presence is consequential to the actions of living members, are active and dialogical, we illuminate a dialogical interaction missing from other non-linear conceptions of temporality. This emphasizes the performative force of a dynamic past that provides an inference to action in the present and future.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Maclean M, Harvey C, Suddaby R, Coraiola D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Management Studies

Year: 2023

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 20/11/2023

Acceptance date: 01/11/2023

Date deposited: 16/11/2023

ISSN (print): 0022-2380

ISSN (electronic): 1467-6486

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/joms.13022


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