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The Paradox of Time

Time-philosophical thought processes never escape the potential for confusion. Film makers and writers make use of this when, for example, they play with the idea of time journeys in which the past is altered in order to prevent a terrible occurrence in the present, which however only exists because the past was the way it was….

In organisations, though, these fictions are a reality. The idea which is familiar to us, that time, as a point in the present, moves along a type of line and so creates the past and leaves it behind, then moving on towards an unknown future, forms, on closer and paradox-ridden observation, only a part of how time occurs in organisations and what effect it has on them (and their decisions).

Time must be thought about as more complex, because its three modes (past, present, future) are intertwined with each other. Putting it another way: one must be able to differentiate between a past present and present past, as well as a future present and a present future. We must also talk of the past past and the future future, as well as of the future past and the past future. In organisations, all this plays an important role for the conceptual guiding processes. Therefore, a more complex understanding of time cannot be avoided if one wants to understand and give meaning to organisational processes and their entanglements more effectively.