Postmodern Organization Theory updated Feb 5, 2000
Postmodern theory is like this horse trying to fly outside the modernist iron cage.

This is the Nike's Pegasus


David M. Boje
(home page) for links to Postmodern conference information "Deconstructing Las Vegas"
Intro level    MBA Level Applications Graduate Ph.d. Level  Post-graduate level
Postmod Organization and Chaos
An Overview of postmodern organization theory
How to become a postmodern theorist


An Answer to the Age old Question: WHAT IS POSTMODERN? (press here) 

PART II: On the Relation between Chaos and Postmodern Organization Theory.

Chaos/Complexity and Postmodern Theory.
Lefebure and Letiche (1999:) argue that chaos and postmodern are related. "Disorder has ceased to be the exception... chaos is becoming every present.... whether one calls the alternative post-Fordism, the postmodern society or complexity, linear economic utilitarianism no longer provides a safe basis for understanding organization" (p. 12).  Both focus on that empty space between the plateaux of order. I like their idea that the modernist and postmodernist order are mutually defining.  I am one of those "change experts" that embrace a deconstructionist and postmodern position by deconstructing the modernist order. As with Ricoeur (1984), they see chaos as filled with bits and pieces of "pre-order" (in Ricoeur's words its "pre-understanding."   The value in looking a a postmodernist approach to chaos and complixity lies in getting beyond the reductionist thinking of "modernist" managers.  The vlaues lies in looking at the dynamics of systems, the fragmentation of contexts, and the emergence of new cyberspace and biotechnologies.  Clearly, a new narrative understanding is neeeded, one that is not trapped in linearity.

See Emergence: a Journal of Complexity Issues in Organizations and Management (Vol. 1 #3, 1999 "Managing Complexity from Chaos: Uncertainty, Knowledge adn Skills" by Eric Lefebvre and Hugo Letiche, p. 7-15).
Letiche (1999) in this same issue of Emergence looks at how management thought is emerging from its preoccupation with Soical Darwinism. 
What has happened is the field is turning from a tree of knowledge to rhizomatic hybrids across these types. Alvesson and Deetz (1996) for example call for an association of postmodern and critical theory; Alvesson and Willmott's (1997) and Mills & Simmons (1995) texts are a cross of poststructuralism, postmodern, and critical theory; Hatch's text (1997) is a cross of postmodern and social construction. Hassard and Parker (1993) focus on skeptical postmodern positions denying any possibility of postmodern organization, preferring epistemological to epoch approaches.

My own work is critical postmodern, a blend of critical and postmodern theory, with frequent use of deconstruction ways of knowing and studying organization (See Boje, 1995). Boje and Dennehy (1993) takes a more affirmative and epoch position looking for hybrid forms of premodern, modern and postmodern organization. Boje, Gephart & Thatchenkery (1996) focus on a mid-range position between epoch and epistemology and move toward ecocentric and affirmative postmodern organization approaches. Several of the chapters take a critical postmodern position (Hassard, 1996; Gephart, 1996; Boje, Fitzgibbons & Steingard, 1996; Clegg, 1996).

Click Here To view paper where these ideas are developed.

Intro Level back to index

  • Intro level - What is postmodern (press here)
  • Our Postmodern World (press here). Art, music, fiction & daily life.
  • For Beginners - Start with a definition of postmodern (press here). You will also need to know some vocabulary. Start with hegemony (press here). And you will soon need to know why postmodernists critique essentialism, so might as well press here now.  There is also intertextuality (press here).  If you are still confused work your way through each of the links in this drop down menu.
  • Self organizaing simulation exercise for teaching - by Kevin Dooley (press here). 
  • Fractal Pictures and Animation (press here). 
  • Strange Attractors
  • Time Structures (press here). 
  • Four Laws of Complexity by Ronald Warunek 1991 (press here). 
More  MBA Material  back to index
    • What is postmodern? (press here). 
    • What is a complex system? by Kevin Dooley (press here).
    • Postmdoern Dreaming Web Site - well designed with great articles and links (press here). 
    • PMTH- Good links and articles on Lyotard and other posstmodernists (press here). 
    • Below is an annotated bibliography of Critical and postmodern Organization Theory Work. It covers both affirmative and skeptical work in critical theory and in postmodern theory. It starts with the MBA in the middle, attempting to stretch into the available literature by theorists, executive educators and guru-consultants. It is a teaching tool that is  in process and your suggestions are welcome.
  • More  MBA-level Material - Four Knowledge Perspectives on Organization Theory By David M. Boje September 1, 1999 This is an annotated bibliography of Critical and postmodern Organization Theory Work. It covers both affirmative and skeptical work in critical theory and in postmodern theory. It starts with the MBA in the middle, attempting to stretch into the available literature by theorists, executive educators and guru-consultants. It is a teaching tool that is  in process and your suggestions are welcome.
        • Four Knowledge Perspectives on Organization Theory By David M. Boje September 1, 1999 -
        • Business Education is going through some major changes which critical postmodern theories can help you to deal with. For example:
          • Auctioning Off Class Struggles by Kendra Mayfield 23.Sep.99.Wried News (press here). Call it eBay meets business school, where students plot graphs, crunch numbers, and devise strategies to win class seats with the most sought-after topics and professors.
          • What an MBA can do - Take the Graduation Pledge (press here).
  • More Info
  • Organization Theory : Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives  by Mary Jo Hatch  1997 Oxford (press here). 
Graduate Level back to index
  • Shameless book ad for Boje, Gephart & Thatchenkery POSTMODERN MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION THEORY  
  • Boje, D. M. 1998 What Postmodern Philosophers Have to Contribute to Knowledge Researchers Paper presented to INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences) conference, Seattle, WA, October 1998.


  • Great books to read to get a sense of the field:

  • Postmodern Theory  Critical Interrogations (1991) by Steven Best and Douglas Kellner
  • The Politics of Historical Vision Marx, Foucault, Habermas (1995) by Steven Best
  • The Postmodern Turn (1997) Steven Best and Douglas Kellner
  • The Postmodern Adventure (2001) by Steve Bet and Douglas Kellner NY: Guilford Press

  • Critique of Conservative/Neo-Liberal Management Theory

    Best, Steve & Douglas Kellner -  Kevin Kelly's Complexity Theory: The Politics and Ideology of Self-Organizing Systems

    1. For an overview of premodern, modern, and postmodern philosophers, Please Click Here To understand postmodern you need to know something of semiotics.

      • Intro to Semiotics by Hawk (press here).
      • Semiotics for Beginners by Chandler (press here).
      • ON TO THE FUN STUFF: How Postmodern Theory can help in current issues?
  • Overview of Postmodern approaches - INFORMS presentaton
  • Kevin Dooley's Pages (press here). 
  • Chaos and Time Series Analysis (press here
  • Popular Lectures by J. C. Sprott (press here). 
  • Postmodern Organization Theory is a disputed and controversial terrain
  • A good journal is Consumption, Markets and Culture
  • and of course JOCM
  • Postmodern Organization Theory is related to three other approaches: poststructuralism, critical theory and social construction.
  • Post-structuralists decenter centered and linear structures ( Lyotard,
  • Derrida, late-Foucault and Kristeva).
  • NEW - Extensive links  to Cyborg, Hypertext Culture, Critical and Postmodern Philosophy, Chaos & Complexity Theory in Education, and much more (press here).
  • Critical theorists look at forms of emancipation that can occur in transitions from systemic modernism (Marx, Braverman). In organization studies (Alvesson, Willmott, Collins). See Journal EJ-ROT There is a critical theory pre-conference at the Academy. They have a most excellent resource page
  • Social Construction (Berger & Luckmann), in organization studies (Weick, Ken and Mary Gergen, appreciative inquiry, etc.).
  • Beyond Social Construction - (press here) -- CTHEORY an international journal of theory, technology and culture. Articles, interviews, and key book reviews in contemporary discourse are published weekly as well as theorisations of major "event-scenes" in the mediascape. Edited by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker. Includes Dead Media Project...
    • Disneyworld Company Jean Baudrillard (press here).
    • Deleuze and Guattari: Two Meditations Arthur Kroker (press here) e.g.  White Walls/Black Holes and Panic Materialism
    • Nietzsche at the Mall: Deconstructing the Consumer Daniel R. White and Gert Hellerick (press here).
  • Beyond Social Construction Try Hawks's page (press here).
    • See Links to CT and Rhetoric Journals, Baudriallard and Rhetroic, Postmodern Theory, Rhetoric and Cultural Studies (press here).
    • Cyberspace by Hawk (press here).
    • Faciality Theory by Hawk  (press here).
  • The Amazing Story of John Searle by Fairchild (press here). Review of AI and Turing Theory experiments; Minds, brains and computer programs in the digital age.
    • Complexity and Postmodernism : Understanding Complex Systems by Paul Cilliers (press here).1998 -  Routledge; ISBN: 0415152879 - cutting-edge understanding of how two independently cultivated lines of investigation - complexity and postmodernism - have fortuitously dovetailed
    • Postmodern Management and Organiztion Theory by Boje, Gephart, & Thatchenkery Sage 1996 (press here). 
Post-Doctorate Level  - Covers Qualitative Methods to use to study postmodern topics  back to index
  • Intertextuality, Emplotment, Deconstruction in Qualitative Research (press here)
  • Non-linearity and Time-series statistical analyses (press here). 
  • See Causal Assertions in discourse Analysis (press here). 
  • We are witness to the global spectacle of democratic rhetoric wedded to one of free markets. Khan (2001) argues it is simulacra, spectacle displayed on a mass scale to a global audience. Discussion of economic justice is part of the postmodern condition, a discourse once the province of Adam Smith in the Moral Sentiments/Wealth of Nations, now abandoned by economists.  Khan after some heavy “philosophy-lifting” through several notable postmodernists, comes to the end of the essay, where he combines “Fact” and “Fiction” to get “Friction.”  Here he mentions the WTO protests as example, with the hope of a deeper form of democracy and economic justice through mass political activism. See (2001) pdf paper by Haider A. Khan, University of Denver. Fictions, 'Factions,' or Frictions? Markets, Democracy and Economic Justice in the Age of Postmodernism.
  • As a practical demonstration of the relation of postmodern culture and economic democracy and social justice, please Read .... Jeffrey Ballinger, Taking on the Global Market Machine: Time to Gear for a Revolution in Worker Rights.
Postmodern Ethics
Instituting evermore modernist controls bifurcates society into
into have and have-nots, and into non-sustainable ecosystems. 
Postmodern Organization - Chaos Theory and Non-Linear Systems Dynamics Introduction to CHAOS THEORY AND POSTMODERN PHILOSOPHY by Young
 back to index

The Anthropology of Chaos: Anarchy and Organizing 1997 - SCOS paper by Krzysztof Bernady, Jerzy Kociatkiewicz & Monika Kostera  Warsaw University  (press here).

Chaos and Complexity -- What does that have to do with
management? A look at Practical Applications. by Michael R. Lissack (press here)

Chaos theory grounds a postmodern science that is unpredictable, hence unknowable to the degree of precision demanded by modern science... Non-linear interactions and non-linear bifurcations are common attributes of natural and social systems. - Young 

New Chaos Journal called Emergence

Postmodern Science (See Best & Kellner, 1997 for an overview
Qualitative Resources for Postmodern Research
  • Requires moving beyond assumptions of binary logic systems.  
  • Use of discourse analysis. 
  • Focus on deconstruction. 
  • Looks at moving beneath universal grand narratives and essentialisms.  
See Syllabus at
Book chapter for new book Spectacles and Festivals of Organization: Managing Ahimsa Production and Consumption - David M. Boje - Under Review Harwood Academic Publishers  June 3, 1999 

Summary of Spectacle Book applied to postmodern organization theory

Chapter 14 from Spectacles & Festivals of Organization 
Based upon Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle




  • One issue is the use of surveillance --Big Brother Is Your Friend by Chris Gaither  20.Sep.99 -- (press here) Wired Magazine The omnipresent cameras are coming, says science fiction writer David Brin. The question isn't when, but what they'll be pointing at. Surveillance cameras will be perched on every lamppost and windowsill, beaming the minutiae of daily life to police headquarters.
    • Another is the biotech revolution
      • Attack of the Frankenfish by Leander Kahney  (press here). 20.Sep.99 As controversy surrounding genetically modified "Frankenfoods" continues to grow in the United States, the first genetically modified animals are scheduled to reach America's dinner tables by 2002.
      • U.S. Would Use Long Island Lab to Study Food Terrorism on Plumb Island (press here). June 1999.
    • Exploring Cyberspace
      • Searching for God in cyberspace  An age-old quest moves into new territory (press here). By Joan Connell  MSNBC OPINIONS EDITOR.
      • Corpus Cybermeticum: Digital mysticism and the religion of technology by Erik Davis (press here). Complete Website is quite fun (press here).
      • Wearable Computers (press here).
      • A Feeding Frenzy Made for Consumers by Saul Hansell - September 22, 1999  E-Commerce links (press here).
        • October 12, 1999 From Two Small Nodes, a Mighty Web Has GrownHistory of the web NY Times (press here).
      • Is It Real or Is It Virtual? Computer-Generated for Live TV, Virtual Sets May Be Better than the Real Thing Virtual TV - (press here) ABC News  "Deconstructing Construction Costs And while creating a high-end hard set can cost $250,000 to $500,000, comparable virtual sets generally cost one-third the price, says Scott Lelieur, Studio DVP's creative director."
    • As the Human Genome Project looks at DNA, there is some speculation that DNA testing will constitute a new form of surveillance and screening for jobs and education (press here). Wired News, Human Genome Count Rising  22.Sep.99.
      • P R O F E S S O R-- C Y B O R G (press here) If we want to stop machines from taking over,  ------ we better start becoming more like them.---  By Janelle Brown Must read; this is changing the definition of what it is to be human; cyborg man is already here and is rapidly developing . Oct. 20, 1999
    • Media Concentration -(press here) The 50, 26, 20... Corporations That Own Our Media a shrinking number of large media corporations now regard monopoly, oligopoly and historic levels of profit as not only normal, but as their earned right. Multimedia Monopoly This page contains links to stories and background on the concentration of  media ownership.
    • Environmental issues abound that relate to issues of postmodern ethics:
      • Was Homer in Charge?  Hearing Into Uranium Plant Garners Scare Stories (press here)  At the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, employees worked for years exposed toradioactive substances they were told were harmless. (ABCNEWS) September 23, 1999.
    • Wealth distribution between Rich and Poor
      • America the Bountiful  24.Sep.99 (press here)  Wired News "The 400 richest Americans are worth more than US$1 trillion combined -- and that tops the gross domestic product of China, Forbes magazine said Thursday. Naturally, Bill Gates is still America's wealthiest, with a net personal worth of $85 billion, up from $59 billion last year.Microsoft Corp.'s founder and chairman, whose net worth briefly touched $100 billion last April, still has more money than the gross domestic product of the Philippines ($83.1 billion). ... Behind Gates is No. 2-ranked Paul Allen, who also got rich via Microsoft stock and who has a net worth of $40 billion. Investor Warren Buffett is third with $31 billion, while Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's president, and Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer Corp., rank 4th and 5th."
      •  The Widening Gap: Income Disparities in the 1990s by April Pedersen Updated: Wednesday, September 08, 1999 (press here).
      • Shifting Fortunes: The Perils of the Growing American Wealth Gap March 29, 1999 In the forward to this book by Chuck Collins, Betsy Leondar-Wright, and Holly Sklar, Lester Thurow asserts that capitalism is blind to the distributions of  wealth, income and earnings (press here).
                Since the 1970s, the top 1 percent of households have doubled  their share of the national wealth at the expense of everyone else. Using data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, economist Edward Wolff of New York University says that the top 1 percent had 40 percent of the nation's household wealth as of 1997. The top 1 percent of households have more wealth than  the entire bottom 95 percent.
        • Issue of the Week: Poverty in America: Better or Worse? by Andrew Olivastro October 28, 1999 (press here). Intellectual Capital Site - "The U.S. government defines poverty as a family of four earning less than $16,600. The Census Bureau's latest numbers show that the number of people living below the poverty rate has dropped, but is still quite high. The poverty rate dropped to 12.7% in 1998, down from 13.3% in 1997. The number of poor people dropped to 34.5 million people, down from 35.6 million people."
  • 101 Reasons Why I am a Vegetarian (press here).
    • REASON 3 Approximately 1.3 billion cattle populate the earth at any one time. They exist artificially in these vast numbers to satisfy the excessive human demand for the meat and by-products they provide. Their combined weight exceeds that of the entire human population. By sheer numbers, their consequent appetite for the world's resources, have made them a primary cause for the destruction of the environment. In the US, feedlot cattle yield one pound of meat for every 16 pounds of feed. (Within the 12-year period preceding 1992, the number of chickens worldwide increased 132% to 17.2 billion.)
    • REASON 100 According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cardiovascular diseases caused 954,000 deaths (42% of all deaths) in 1993. Total direct cost to sufferers added up to $126.4 billion. Seventy-two percent of the deaths were due to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a disease strongly linked to a meat-based diet (see #63, 80).
2. For an overview of postmodern organization science, Click Here

3. Press this link for more summaries and contrasts of postmodern, critical theory, poststructuralism, and social construction Click Here


For more advanced postmodern material (press here) for TD Gameboard (See Postmodern Theatrics and Restorying areas)
For Postmodern Storytelling (press here). Thanks for visiting - David M. Boje
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