O Acodemy ol Monogemenl Review 1997, Vol. 22, No. 2, 453-481.

POSTMODEBNISM AND OBGANIZATIONAT BESEARCH
MARTIN KILDUFF AIAY MEHRA The Pennsylvcrnicr State University
Drcrwing selectively lrom the olten countervoiling currents ol postmodernism, we crgue lor <rn epistemology thcrt combines cr skepticism towcrrd metcncrrrative with a commitment to rigorous stclndcrrds ol

enquiryinpursuitotrcdicclchallengestoccceptedknowledge.We discuss five problemctics concerned with normql science, truth, representation, siyle, cnd generclizcrbility, crnd we provide excrmples ol

postmodern crpproaches to clcrssic datq sets, Ioccrl knowledge, eclectic sources, crnd the counterintuitive. In this article we seek to provoke crn ongoing converscrtion concerning the potenticrl of postmodernism lor revolutionizing orgcnizcrtionql research'

Multiculturolism ond deconstruction qre the new rcge on coilege ccmpuses-cnd they ore destroying q student's obility to think and to vslue. (Excerpt from q lecllet distributed to fcculty odvertising cl public lecture on postmodernism, April 4, 1996, ot c major Eqstern university.)

Orgonizctional reseqrchers hcve tended to neglect or reiect the critiques ol acqdemic enquiry offered by those who write {rom one ol the mqny postmodernist perspectives. This mcry be because the import o{ postmodernist cpproqches for orgcrnizqtional studies is unciesr. Indeed, the term postmodern is itself vaguely understood: it is often equated with deconstruction (e.g;, Linsteqd, 1993)and is generqlly viewed as o nihilistic enterprise (as the lecture exqmple crbove indicates) that offers nothing beyond o cynical skepticism (cf. Codrescu, 1986: 203). Nor crre the works of quthors, such as Derrido, Foucctult, crnd Boudrillard, who ole often qssocicted with the postmodern turn, cccessible to the moiority ol those procticing organizction resecrch. Postmodern writings qre derided for their unintelligibility (Thompson, 1993: 198) crnd dismissed for reducing resecrch to textucrl crncrlysis (Giddens, I9B7).
We thonk three crnonymous reviewers qnd Jomes Wcrlsh ior pushing us to clcrrily ond shcrrpen our qrguments; Dennis Gioio, Henry Giroux, Douglos Holt, ond Ben Kleindor{er ior helplul comments on crn eorlier drolt; ond Jqcques Derridq, whose speech and writing inspired us to write this orticle. The usuol disclqimer crpplies.
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April

hos crroused widespread clnxiety. Postmodernism h6rs been viewed entelprise thqt calis for the decrth of all scientific inquiry; the end o{ -all new linowiedge; the dissolution of 6Iny stqndards thcrt may be used to iudge q one theory crgqinst another; q banishment into uttqr relcrtivism wherein clcmor of lrogmented and contentious voices reigns (see Pauline Rosenau's 1992 bcrlanced review of these concerns and Stonley Fish's tl996l recent discussion o{ misunderstondings of postmodernism)' this Our intent in this article is to rescue the term postmodernism from to chorus of negcrtivity, ond to use the insights of postmodern epistemology alorm resecrchers in orgonizcrtional studies into pursuing provocotive is reseqrch. we chollenge the conventional wisdom th(It postmodernism incompotible with reslorch obout the world, and algue ogainst the prem-othe ture dismissal of postmodern contributions. In presenting the ccse for we discuss two relevcnce of postmodernism for organizcrtional resecrch, a cpprooches to postmodernism (the skeptical ond the offirmative), outline both these approaches, discuss ptstmodern epistemoiogy that drqws from o{ the mojor probiematics thqt derive from this postmodern episte"o*" cnd comment on (I range of resecrrch that responds to these postmology, modern problemotics.l
UNDENSTANDING POSTMODERNISM

within the sociol sciences in general, the spectel of postmodernism qs qn

Although relcltively new to olganizationol studies, postmodernism hcrs exelcised c growing influence in the sociol Sciences, from sociology and psychology to women's studies ond history (Rosenau, 1992: 85), ond is Lonsidered by =o*. to be one of the 20th century's grectest chollenges to estcrblished knowledge (Wisdom, 1987: 5). Even within the so-colled hqrd sciences such crs physics, postmodernist dilemmos cre increcrsingly deboted (Forney, I994). One reqson for postmodernism's glowing populority ocross such a wide rcnge of disciplines is cr disillusionment with whot some critics view crs the oversimplified, ncrrow, ond discrppointingly irrelevcnt work qssociqted with modern social science (Rosenqu, 1992:. I37). Gergen (1992), for excrmple, critiqued a wide longe of organizqtionol research becquse of its underlying qdherence to a crude mechqniccrl model of humcrn behcrvior. Similcrrly, Kilduff (I993) offered q detqiled critique of the Tcylorist crssumptions underlying Marqh qnd Simon's (1958)modernist mani{esto, ond Carter qnd Jackson (1993) criticized resecrrch based on
rA ccrutiongry {ootnote is in order to wqrn recrders to expect o rodiccrl depcrture from whot posses qs conventioncl thinking crmong sell-declared organizctionol postmodernists' As one reviewer hos pointed eut, we mcrke no crttempt to con{orm to existing pQstmodern critiques within organizotionql studies (see Alvesson & Deetz, 1996, {or <r review ol previous

work). Rother, we o{{er our own interpretation of the relevonce of postmodernism, <rn interpretation thcrt mcrkes no cloims to being more cuthentic thon any other, but one thcrt does try to motch the excitement ol idecls with the possibilities ol resecrrch.

rigor. negctive. and pedagogy" (Derridc. from this perspective. As Best and Kellner (I991: 2) pointed out. "must under- Note thcrt Fish's vision oI cn interpretive community does nqt entcril the necessity of resecrrch tecrms crttocking common problems. this very diversity is one o{ postmodernism's distinguishing chorocteristics. Going Beyond the Skeptical Versus Affirmctive Dichotomy In discussions ol the mony vorieties of postmodernism availoble. gloomy sssessment" of the possibilities of socicrl science (Ro. cll interpretqtions of phenomenq ore equclly vclid.e. "it should be possible to invoke rules of competence. criticism. only the existence ol loosely afiilicrted individuol scholars. in whot woys do these critiques derive lrom cr shsred understonding ol postmodernism? Inevitably.r I997 Kilduff c'nd Mehrq 455 expectoncy theory {or neglecting the importonce of subjective understanding in fqvor of o ncrrow focus on meosurement issues. skepticol postmodernists "emphcrsize the negctive Snd lock confidence or hope in cnything" (Rosenqu. Given the increcrse in the number of speciolty forums (i. journels. e-mail listservers) serving the needs ol dispersed scholqrs. two distinct styles or ideci types ore often contrqsted: the skepticol ond the Gffirmcrtive (Rosenou. Fish (I980) orgued thct interpretive communities of scholqrs guide reoders' interpretations of texts. lucidity. From our postmodern perspective. Everything is reloted to everything else so the secrch for couses or origins must be discontinued. lrcrgmentation is q virtue. tecrm reseorch on enemy. and the world is so complicated that concepts such os prediction ond cousolity ore irrelevont. not cr weqkness. From the skepticol perspective. invoking instecrd c vision of individuql reseqrchers for whom heterogeneity is strength. The deconstructive scholor who wishes. I992: I83). origincrlity c virtue. ond creotivity valued ever synthesis cnd replicetion.tou. within the interpretive context. A typicol comment {rom repeticr postmodern perspective is 'lDiversity encouroges creqtivity. Afiirmative postmodernism retqins the possibility of moking discriminotions omong competing interpretotions. i987: 29). Indeed. Skepticcl postmodernism offers "crpessimistic. for exsmple. Skepticol postmodernists deny the possibility of on empiricql sociql science ond engcge lcrgely in critiquing existing work rqther thon undertaking new empiricol opprooches. Ig92). I988: I46). good fqith. while tion anesthetizes it" (Kroll. it mqy well be possible for the Acodemy to sustqin mony more frcrgmented scholorly communities thon it hcrs in the post. 1992: l5).. cenlerences. not crll texts ore considered equolly vqlid or voluqble. .. We ore 2 in sccord with Weick (1983).r. who questioned the benefits to scholorship of cohesive resecrrch teqms. According to Rosenau (I99I: I5).2 Indeed. For exomple.r=" intellectuql trends. to exomine the work of the IEth century French philosopher Roussecru. "There is no unified postmodern theory. or even q coherent set of positions'" Featherstone (ig88: 207) suggested thcrt there moy be cs mcny postmodernisms os there cre postmodernists. Thus. ony precise definition of postmodernism is likely to be disputed becouse the postmodernist label includes mony di. criteria of discussion snd oi consensus.

even tronslqte French cs well os possible. history" (Derrida. qn o"""tto. which makes crn crppeol to just such ncrrrotives. hqve abcndoned the myth of endless progress in Icrvor ol qn eclecticism that. continues to bind reseqrchers to rigorous stcndords of (1992: 169)' os they pursue radiccrl interpretotions. velidity of its own truth cloim . we selectively borrow from the often countervoiling currents of postmodernism' rother thon grcrnting cbsolute authority to one pcrrticulcr approcrch." Rosenau argued thct will. depend more on the offirmapostmodern social "fi"rr. qt its best. then. we dra* upon contributions lrom both the skepticcri tive styles and try toqvoid demonizing either. Postmodernist architects. including all the contexts determineit(thelitercrry. 1992: 6). ss clrticulated in the enquiry Derrido. suggested thcrt postmodernism'cln be understood as incredulity toward metoncrrrcrtives3 (such crs Marxism and structuralism) in controst to modernism. in this qrticle. we reject the nihilist position in favor of <rn world' cnd'crctivist socigl science thqt "embrqces and does not exclude the reclity. one could indeed say lust anything crt all " '" (Derrida. cn emphcsis on dillerence and heterogeneity. is not all negcrtive. According to Rosenau postmodernism "would underscore novelty and reflexivity "" it looks to the richness of diflerence crnd concentrcrtes on the unusuol' the as "rtii*"tive "crny crttempt to outline a singulcrr. 1988: I44). postmodernists allow for renewed qttention to the trqditionql and to the porticulcrr (Rosenau.rhetoricaltrcrditions. qs Hcrrvey (l98g) crnd others mqke cleqr. Incredulity Towcrrd Metqnarrqtive: Lecrrning from Architecture Lyotord (1984). Oifrer"*ise.philosophicol. tends to "delegitimate aif mastercodes" (Rosenau. hlttory. deconstruction is cln explorcrtion within strict boundqries of the indeterminocies to be found in texts' indeterminqcies that open up rcrdiccl reinterpretations of such texts' writings of An qffirmqtive postmodernism. ond the origincrl." (Rosencru. in o widely influential text. following qffirmqtive berridcr (1988: I46). 1992: 169)' iives thcrn on the skeptics" In identifying the impliccrtions of postmodernism for orgcrnizcrtionol and crfiirmareseqrch. crnd qn ironic qdmission of the ephemerality of thingsThe emphasis ol postmodernism. we find much ol the writing from cl skepticcrl position use{ul in countering the new clge ngivet6 o{ crn qffirmative postmodernism thot celebrcrtes "wonder qnd qmazement" crnd pursues voyqges into the "unforseen" (Rosenou. know thot corpus of Roussecu cts well CIs possible. AIso. then. Thus. I992: xi).In abcrndoning metonqrrctive. for excmple. Dqvid Hcrrvey (1989: I0) suggested that postmodernism involved c rejection of overqrching propositions. I992: 169). 3 A metongrrcrtive is c globcrl world view that qssumes the (Rosencru. I988: 137).r. which is to say' so mcny -other ifri"g" as well). 1992: 6). For Derridcr. on balonce.Acodemy of Manogement fieview April the stqnd and write. stciety.e of plurclism and fragmentation. then. Postmodernism.thehistory of the French lcrrrguoge.

then. Frompton (]983: I9). 1992: 93). As Derrida of a text I58). criticizes some ol Iencks'views on postmodern orchitecture os promoting "grotuitous imoges" for q medio society.rrgued <rgcrinst the exclusion of methods typically associoted with positivism: "lF]eminist psychology must implement evqry tool crt its disposql-qnd creste new ones-rcrther thon reject crny out o{ hqndl' (quoted in Reinhsrz. crnd crpprocrches from cr vcrriety of trqditions. Postmodern orchitects olten disogree concerning crsPects of postmodernism. to semiotic and decbnstructive techniques. eclectic rother thon exclusive. critical production would risk developing in orry. who. . methods." That care{ul crnd rigorous interpretqtion is compatible with rodical postmodern re-readings isevidenced by research such crs Joqn Cqssell's (1996) investigction oi ho* the embodiment o{ difference crffects the coreers of women surgeons. such gs crrt qnd ]iteroture. in her book on ieminist reseqrch methods." for "without this recognition crnd this respect. postmodernism." or more generally. snd sidewoys with little regcrrd for ocademic boundqries or the myth of progress that condemns some texts as old foshioned while procloiming others state ol the art.I997 Kilduff ond Mehro 457 clectes designs exhibiting <r striking synthesis of dilferent traditions' Thus' "crn the crrchitect Chcrrles Jencks (1989: 7) defined the postmodern style <rs eclectic mixture of ony tradition with that of its immediqte pcst. recrching bcrckwards. gbove crll. "the combinction oi modern techniques with something else with Iusually traditional building) in order for orchitecture to communicote (usucrlly other qrchitects)" (I989: I4)'a the pubtic qnd qr concerned minority There cre severol ospects of this architecturcl postmodernism thot we think are helpful in redefining organizational postmodernism' First' according to this perspective. 1994). Shulamit Reinhcrrz (1992). cny interpretation "requires crll ihe instruments of trcrditional criticism. forwcrds. We 61gree with the feminist resecrrcher Charlene Depner. makes crbundqntly clecrr. for exomple. Thus. even though these approoches hqve been singled out crs especiclly useful "postmodern reseqrch methods" (Dickens & Fontqnq. From this postmodernist perspective. our postmodernist perspective seeks to include <rnd use techniques.dir". insights.tion at oll <rnd outhorize itself to soy almost anything. This postmodernism does not limit itself. Postmodernism Versus Antimodernism We emphcsize c postmodernism thcrt is. crims to communiclte both to the concerned minority ol techniccl experts in the {ield and to the wider populcrtion of those sffected by the proctice of science. we intend neither to downplcry the importcrnce ol pos{modernist idecrs in other oreqs. We crrgue for o posimodern orgcrnizational science thcrt exhibits both c mcstery oi trcrditional sociql science techniques and <r relevcnce (1976: to the contemporcrry situcrtion of organizationgl members. for example. crll styles crre simultcneously <rvailcrble. disAlthough we drow ideas from qrchitecture in mcking sense Qf postmodernism. compcrred to modernism. Thus. nor to impose cr lcrlse consensus on the lield of architecture concerning { postmodernism.

how the method view.. omong others."= to truth Gnd thot clll proctice thct postmodernists seek cpprooches qre embodied in culturql of to mat<e explicit (smircich & calds. The mixing cnd matching style diverse stylls helps surioce the cultural proctice within which ecch is embedded.inpursuitofrevolutioncry perspec- chollenges to conventionol wisdom. It is this detailed fcmiliarity that qllows the postmodernist to evoke the trqdition . 1987). it is is used that defines whether the research exemplifies feminism' In postmodern resecrrch the gocls ore to chollenge the content crnd forms of form of dominant models of knowledge ond qlso to produce new giving knowledge through breoking down disciplincry boundcries and (Giroux.t"titying the dismissol o{ conceivonti-modern intellectual current" (Rosencru. rother than hide or destroy. lgTg: I00). the old structure' He extended the modernist cube horizontcrlly with c sweeping Romonesque portico thcri reflected and commented on the visible ornqmentqtion ol surrounding buildings' Postmodern buildings employ double coding in thot they moke use o{ tradition ond the lqtest scientific knowledge ond techniques without committing to cny dogmcrtic revivol. 1992: voice to those ." This sentiment is embodied in the postmodern rebuilding of the Palmer Museum ol Art. con mix ond motch vqrious with tives or resecrch styles for cresthetic effect or in order to contrqst follows from the trodition. This freedom to combine styles o{ discourse reseqrch beliel that no method grants privilegedL. lor excmple. including cn opposition to the achievements of modern "just onother postmodernism os its method". rather it is to situate research issues in crective tension with historicol qnd scientific contexts. We join ieminists such os Corolyn Sherif in toking issue with Kurt Lewin's call for concerning onself with history only os its iorces ore "reveoled in the immediote situation ot the time of study" (Sherif. classic statements qnd techniques of the Iield in question. In order both to evoke q irqdition and transcend it requires c detqiled fcmilicrity with the clcrssic stotements of that trsdition.roi r"pr.. and yet crmbivalent toward. Fto* her perspective. the Bagsvcerd church thct employs reinforced concrete (c typicclly modern technique) to create an ombiguous voult thst precludes.Weolguethotpostmodernresecrchers.'qn exclusively Occidentql or Orientql reading of the code by which the public qnd socred spoce is constituted. ii"k l. Kenneth Frcmpton (1983: 23) discussed. and orql history methods. postmodern crchitect Chqrles Moore decided to retqin and revise.458 Acoderny of Monogement Review April intercusses experimentql qnd survey methqds os well os ethnoglaphic." ![e crgue for c postmodernism thclt is similcrly informed by. Jencks (1989: I0). The intent is not to venerote the work of predecqssors or privilege the techniques o{ science."entJd in the dominant discourses 56). "the continuqtion ol modhc-s chlmpioned a postmodernism thot involves ernism qnd its transcendence. modern' Those postmodernists who declale cn qbsolute opposition to science ond ity.When commissioned to reploce on exiiting modernist qrt museum on the Penn Stcte compus. 1992: 169)' Rcrther thon ing of postmodernism as antimodernism.

.

Derridcr. among other things. I995. 1993)' For !*ompie. Whether or not the world we live in cqn be represented cs differing dramatically from the recent post. tggg) cQncerning Clegg. Postmodernism cs cn intellectual movement qlso cqlls attention to the mcrgins crnd c:wcry from a preoccupqtion with some mythiccll center. I994). I991: 120). but such changes ore chorocteristic of copitcrlist society (Marx. postmodernism "focuses on what is nonobvious. ond deny the mYth of Progress. 1984' development ol "opitoli"t is considerfor useful discussions).This qrticle focuses on postmodernism (Is cn intellectucll movement rather thon on the possibility of postmodernity cs cr stcrge in the historicol . Whether we agree tion with Baudrillard's nihilistic vision or not. semiotics gcrins importonce os ct resecrrch method (Gottdiener. Ben-Ari. writing cnd reseqrch consists ol systems of self-significcl"ol with no relevcrnce to onything ouiside the text. overlooked. cr coll lor renewed attention to the history o{ the field. 1994. But postmodernism also opens spcce for lroi". Postmodernism. Thot orgonizcrtions. cnd viewpoints previously neglected or ignored. "toriJirrg multiskilling. Schumpeter.. 1988). Among writers on postmodernism there the claims by some (e'9" crble skepticism (e.. le{t out.ti"t (see HCIssqrd. Models replcrce the real cnd "the boundary between hyperreolity ond everyday life is elcrsed" (Best & Kellner.crnd societies sre making rcrdical chcrnges in response to competition both local clnd globol ccln hordly be denied. I867/1976. postmodernism highIights neglected clspects of contemporqly everydcry life (crs well crs negLcted crspects of historicql life. From this skeptip"r. As Rosenqu (1992: 168) wrote. qnd mcss medio.I997 Kildutf qnd Mehrq in on often ironic or ambivolent woy thcrt contrcsts with other elements of the design or project. is. his work is valuqble in crlerting us to how much of our experience is structured by representgtions thqt in many cqses hove no originols. 1947)' More persuasive. qnd Jsmeson. see Reqdings & Schqber. is the possibility thot the significcrnce of certoin crspects ol the contemporary world ccrn be reevcrlucrted from a postmodern perspective. .p"ctive. ond generally forgotten in a text qnd exqmines whst is unsaid. then.o"i. ond an c{firmotion of mythithe relevcrnce ol importont work regardless of its plccement in some postmodernists both celebrate trodition col modernist progrression.=. Thus. texts. . This suggests a reseslch ogendo locused on the process by which signs cnd imcges crre produced cnd their effects on produCers and consumers. tdg0. This attention to the mcrrgins cgn be ss literol crs cn crttention to crpporently unimportcrnt but revecrling textual morginolia such crs crcknowledgments (e. Park"t. decentrcllizltion. Thus. Vcrttirno. POSTMODENN EPISTEMOTOGY . perhcps. such crs flexibility. Baudrillqrd (1983) drew attention to the extent to which people inhobitsimulatedworldswherethedistinctionbetweenreglandunreol is blurred.g.g. tSgZ) thct a postmodernity label is helpful in undersocietcl crnd organizationcrl developments.

feminist. ond pcrtially deiective promises. iringe. Nkomo. work that chcllenges the tqken-for-grontgd distribution of power in orgonizqtions hos begun to cppeor' For excr. Postmodernism. Ely's quolitcrtive dotq qre not iust summqrized and seoied within classification borders. Our . roises the question qs to whethlr the Ministdre d'Etst is the victim of on intellectuol fioud. i992). in describing his speech-cct theory.. deconstruction. cmpliiies viewpoints thot hove struggled to be heqrd. Her work exhibits postmodern chqrccteristics not just in its focus. therefore. wrote to the French govelnment to try to prevent Derrido's election to the position of Director ol the Internqtionol College of Philosophy' In her letter she wrote. structuralism. In organizqtionol reseqlch. Ruth Morcus. "To estqbish on'Internqtioncl College of Philosophy' under Derrida's chorge is something ol c joke or. by bringing hitherto mcrrgincrlized voices within the scope of enquiry. more seriously. 1988. I crm ignoring morginol. wrote. These \Momen jump from the pqge with brutslly candid ossessments concerning power games in orgcnizqtions. The Fronkfurt School of Criticol Theory." This is akin to the common statisiical prociice of dropping orili. postmodernists inevitcbly struggle ogoinst powerful entrenched interests. the importance of postmodernism cs cn epistemology thot redirects ottention to phenomeno in the world. 1993). ond never overtly recognized.nple. These attempts to stifle qcodemic enquiries reflect the perceived threot postmodernist ond other criticol opp/ocches pose to the status quo. trn attending to the moigins qnd to suppressed voices.r" from the dato in order to concentrqte on typicol coses. Seorle (Ig70: 55-50.g. For exompie. our cnolysis will be directed at the center of the concept of promising. Robin EIy (1995) showed how sex roles qre more stereotypicql and problemctic in firms with relctively low proportions of senior women. They spill forword within the context of the stondard journcl qrticle to trcnsgress propriety. "In the present cqse. ond minority voices in the Accdemy (e. At Boston University. qnd to crticulote the voices of previously siIenced women. President Silber declcred his "resistqnce" to o curious list of opprooches thot includes criticql legol studies. But this prcctice of eliminqting the perceived morgins from discussion mcy have irelped promote qnd mointqin an overly homogenous sociql qttention to third science. I988: 68). radical feminism. She qdds c set of vivid stories told in the voices oi the women themselves to the positivist edifice of hypotheses snd ststistics. footnote 12' 158-159)." The letter repeats c newspoper cccusqtion thcrt Derrido wos on "intellectucrl terrorist" (for further details see Derrido. We dmphssize." The standord modernist gesture is to focus only on the center qnd to ignore the margins' Thus.460 Academy of Monagement Review April understcted.d in Derridq. but olso in its methods. quot. The postmodern turn coincides with lenewed world. to chollenge convention. Derrido's critiques of phitosophy so profoundly chollenged the privileged position of phiiosophers that the President of the Associotion for Symboiic Logic (qnd ex-Chcir of the American Philosophicol Associqtion). qnd dance theropy Flint.

in {qct.o morgin of plcy. and postmodern inquiries thot we believe con qddress social contexts. for a progmctic perspective on the impossibility of even o temporory in philosophy). From a postmodern perspective. os of the moteriolity (lgga: I70)bointed out. existed in the socicl sciences."rogrrir" thot this opporently innocuols cssumption is rejected Gottdiener skeplicol postmodernists such as Baudrillord (1983). 1994)' Postmodernism. eclecticism.i997 Kiiduff ond Mehrq 461 qnd direct focus is on how postmodern epistemology cqn inform. sign systems. qnd because the devotion to pcrrcdigmctic unity reduces the obillty to criticaliy combine diverse crpprooches' The modlrnist devotion to c grond nqrrqtive of progress is understcndoble as nostcrlgiq for c hypothesis-testing logico-deductive past in which the direction of scientifiC resecrch was controlled by cn elite." constrcints on the multiplicity of thct con be attributed to signifiers. contexts cqn be considered relotively cilows for coherent interpretotion' At stoble qnd this relstive stobility .. From o postmodernist perspective. ond there hove been colls for orgcnizotional studies to embrace cI consensus typiccl of more porcrdigmcrticolly well-dev-eloped fields so thqt we moy glitt"t greoter prestige qnd influence (see Pfeifer' of these concerns. 1975. of difference. porodigrrt "orrr"rrs.r" colls for devotion to porcdigmotic unity ore perilous. becsuse they tend to remove socicl scilnce from the concerns of practitioners. "lMlcrny of us . we follow the trcrdition of Americon prcgmotism (e. "consensus hqs become moded and suspect voluel' (Lyotcrrd. Peirce. for Igg3. The postmodernist Lmphosis on pcrcdox. . there is no reqson to limit enquiry to q Iew poths mqrked out by cny one pcrrticulcr . enrich.. But such q post hos never. in reseqrch enquiries concerning organizqtionql phenomena. os Jencks (1989: 50) qnd others hove pointed out' is chqrocterized by "cn increcrsing plurclity of beliefs'" some modernists hove decried whoi they see os thl decline of the Academy into o bobble of cacophony.r**oiy colls for porodigm consensus in sociolon emphatic reiection of eqrlier qn outogy). l98b: 152). 193I) in osserting We thot there is a reol world thcrt coh be systemoticclly investigated. cnd the interrelqtionships between them (Gottdiener. inciuding workers qnd mcnogels. Festinger brought the p:inciple of counterintuitive experimentalism to iis brilliqnt opogee. crnd Gof{mcn deconstructed even the most mundqne socisl situqtions into qfioirs of drqmq ond desperotion.." Following Derridcr (1988: 150-l5l) we <rrgrue Irom o progmctic perspective. . irony. there{ore' the skeptics' ploy of signifiers' of cll sociql enquiry to cr concern with the shifting me'anings The materiol world i*po".g.. thqt the same time. cre convinced oreos of existence here ond of the foct thqt sociol spaces crre staging thct' of social interoction. We resiit. 1985. there is olwoys of the opens the possibility of new interpretqtions within the limits reduction context (Derrida. for on eloqueni ". 1984: 66. qnd Merton. but. From o postmodern perspective. cnd plurolism is fuliy evident in the work of such (post)-modern mcsters cls Leon Festinger in psychology and Erving Gof{mon in sociology. by . see olso McKeon.

proLlemcrtizing Normcrl Science: The Revolutioncrry Stance We have crlrcdy mentioned thot postmodernists reject metcncrrrcrtives. scientists cre revolutioncrries not puzzle solvers."opptoi"e existing theoretical opprocches. This wcrs not just a descriptive cccount: as Kuhn (1970)himself mode clear. Covcrleski. theories "applicsble to limiied ronges ol datcr. Mcrtin. crnd this translates into a distrust of grond theories of cll kinds' The move owoy from grond theorizing wos signcrled in sociology by Merton (1957: "mcrster 9). the scientist's commitment to puzzle solving rather thcrn innovotive thinking is cr normcrtive stcnce. We see evidence of empiricists in in orgcrnizcrtioncrl studies turning their bccks on these problemotics cs pursu-it of conformity to "normcrl science" (e. but there is relotively little orticles discussion of why crnd how such resecrrch is different from other postmodern enquiry strugjournals. 1996). 1990).g.g. the intent is to delineate those epistemologiccrl crises thgt seem to us to be prcrcpcrrticulcrrly reievont to the reseqrch engagement with events and iices in the world. Dirsmith' & Samuel' in from postmodernism to transform enquiry. including accounting (e. According to Popper (1970: 55). Arrington & press)' borrow I989)qnd economics (e. including Popper (1970: 53). Doncrldson. Kildulf. I995. l99b. ieseorchers in otherii"ld=. and it is undesirclble for resecrrchers to pursue the obvious expense of the unusucrl' FIVE POSTMODERN PROBTEMATICS A quick glcrnce at the leading journals in the orgcrnizotional sciences (e'9" confirms thoi explicitly postmodern reseqrch hcs begun to appecr overt Boje.40L Academy oI Management fieview April crt the elite. But Kuhn's view is disputed by mcny philosophers o{ science. Those pursuing cppearing in the "o*" problemqtics thqt cre either ignored or suppressed gie with I number of in much of the empiriccrl work in our field. In the following section. controlled by criticism" . We jollow this rcther qbstract discussion of problemctics with specific examples of resecrrch thqt illustrate qnd expcnd on our postmodern perspective. Problems continuqlly provoke scientists to criticolly . Feyerobend.. This is whqt Kuhn believed scientists should be doing (cf.."But this commitment to progrcrms of reseqrch derived irom either grcrnd or middle-range theories is questioned by postmodernists who dispute the importonce thqt Kuhn (1962) grcnted to what he called "normal science"' Kuhn ciaimed that the vast mcjority of scientists mostly worked on puzzle solving within crccepted snd unchollenged theoreticcri frqmes. The work of scientists involves not routine puzzle solving but "bold conjectures. for whom puzzle-solving science is dangerous both to scierrce and to civilizotion becguse it involves the qbqndonment of critical thinking.. even F:oncis. who pointed to the relative poverty o{ work derived Irom ony conqeptual scheme" crnd colled for the development of theories of lhe middle rcrnge-thot is.g. 1970).

Further.^ ncrture.. Certqinty is(wittlcrnguoge game pos3ible within the Loundqries of o pcrticulor genstein. cnd .1997 Kldulf ond Mehro 463 the (popper." di{Ier . 5 ration). Cooper. thereiore. 1994. Jor lurther elobocrssumptions.oundcrries.l. 1873/1995)' Ecrch linguisiic conventions fqbriccted by humcns individual. I994)'s postmodern.. and the importcrnce o{ an Drews (1987: 36) mqde clecrr' ccrl discussion oi underlying crssumptions. aie consistent *ith orrt postmodern itself to long subject contrcrry to Kuhn's insistence thct science should periodsofroutinepuzzlesolvingwithinthe{rameworkofcIdominant ol mony ifr"ory. the world that humqns have qssumes thqt Note thot much ol the existing work in orgcrnizotionol postmodernism series of expicnotory postmodernism is incommensurcrble with modernism.. i958: 224). 1996. epistemology' under investigcrtion.srrrability perspective would qppeqr to rule out the possibility of a creotive in this pqper. postmoderrri.ncrry stcrnca of the scientist towcrd with diffiporcrdigms on4 his orgument thqt scientists ccln move ialbeit depending on the demcnds of the problem culty) between p. qre "two rodicolly diflerent systems ol thought the view thcrt modernism ond postmodernism (Cooper & Burrell' I988: 1i0)' This crnd iogic" that "may be iuniclmentolly irreconcilqble" postincomri. ccn poteniiclly perceive the truth community. implicotions.*s. the 1988) toke Lrticles by Cooper qnd Burrell (Burrell.. postmodernists refuse to priviiege middle-Iange ncrrqtives over Thus.r. it is (Nietzsche. porticulcrr norgrcnd ncrrrqtives beccruse they reject the hegemony oi ony rative irresPective o{ its range' Problematizing Truth: The Importcrnce ol Fiction hcs forgotNietzsche observed that "truths are iliusions of which one perspective' the pursuit ten thcrt they cre illusions" (I873/1995: 92)' From this q science becouse of truth becomes deeply problematic as gooi of sociql conventions what counts as truth i= noilixed. Wecrver & Gioia.rcrocy (see Burrell. As frcrmes of referthis postmodern vigilclnce *ith . .mong contexts crnd lcnguage games. In porticulcr. but derives in part from sociql only th.rr. 1970: 55). crnd postmoderniits hclbituclly breok down such rooted in f.t" chcrmpion the simultqneous avcrilability ever-present critidifierent theoreticaipo"itiot s. Truth is not something that inher."_t_. Cooper & Burrell. 1988.i. in understcnding humon behavior mcy be the perceptions and judgments thct shcrpe the world th_rough self-fulfilling propiecies crnd enactment processes (cf."pect to philosophicol i" provoked orid oid*d by inveitigctions of phenomencr by scientists' "rr. Popper dismisses cs "dcngerous dogmq" (cf' porcrdigms view that scientists cre unabll to shift between competing Stqblein. i995: 55-Gt)' To understand the crecrted world-thot is." cn ongoing Critique ond donger" il b. 1988. "o"h about the world differentlY" What may be most importcrnt. I996. Weick. his Aithough popf"r..r"r.o. lecving room only for modern engcrgement witt reseqrch thot we outline of the whot Cooplr Lnd Burrell refer to os "organizqtionol ono'lysis." views ccn hcrrdly be described os existing emphasis in the revolutio.

crnd exceptions. Rqther. filures. for on commentcrry). world to which . or thqt there cny universolly crgreed on representation' increcsed perceptions in the creation of shqred socicrl worlds suggests crnd conresecrch attention to how individuols mcke sense of experience tqke on struct and mcrintclin sociol worlds.. hecrdings. i.rrse. ond in its contribution o{ new concepts bcrsed on insight{ul (see weick. Postmodernists refuse to exempt cny text from rhetoriccrl exomincrtion. The postmodern position beyond the clcrim thct ethnogrclphy is a form of writing and is." IgTg). 1995. 1993). Instead of trying to ercrse all perSoncll trsces of the reol secrrcher from the work so cs to provide the reqder with an illusion unmedioted occess to the subject. The cppeorcrnce ol objectivity in scientific texts is then does not hold o mirror up to ncture (cf' Rorty' misleqding. postmodernists seek to undermine crll claims to methodological purity: for postmodernists..g. in ogr. I995. Some of this in its crective use modern in its crttention to the detcil o{ cr specific ccrse. for one excmple. then style becomes important. in its emphcrsis on the importcrnce informed speculotion text..i"tt. there is no methodology ccpcrble o{ achieving cn unmediated. To cccept we . on how trris woria should be represented. acknowledgements' tobles. 1986). this invoccrtion is in pcrrt cr rhetorical attempi to lersuode the recrder of the scientilic cluthenticity of the document (Goiden-giaat.. no matter how . surprise. clifford & Mqrcus. and references work together to structure crnd enliven the body of the iext. Indeed. ii="o. and Vqn Mqonen. sublect to litercrry interpretction. pcrrticulcrrly goes ogy {r". Rqther. of narrcrtive and of unusucl evidence. and how social constructions studies community' the crppearcnce o{ certointy. Within the orgonizationcrl sense mcking many reseorchers ore now pursuing topics in the crecr of work ctppeals strikingly post(see weick. therefore.464 Academy ol Management Feview April to undercrected cnd to which they respond-scientists mcy hcve to strive that there is stand the fictions that p""pt. for o review).'ll . scientific work tcrkes plcce in contexts of interpretation involving rhetorical conventions cnd token-for-grcrnted assumptions" Problemcrtizing Writing: Style Mqtters If science is pcrrtly o rhetorical production overwhelmingly expressed in writing in which textucl elements such crs the title. objective representotion of the facts. perceive and enact. 1993. vclue judgments. & Locke..O1. chollenge' and discovery. The dcrnger is thct c concern for method Ccrn overwhelm cr concern fOr relevqnce.thepostmodernemphasisontheimportcnceofindividucrl Problemctizing Representation: The Obiect Is Subiective o The question o{ occurote representcrtion of the world hcls become within crnthropolmoior issue within postmoder. because "."potrd is not the sqme cs scying thcrt fact' is. e. postmodernists seek to demysti{y the technology of medicrtion by explicitly detcliling the involvement of the resecrcher..When q writer invokes cr methodology with its pcrnoply of ossumptions.

In the sociol sciences. 1995).IS97 KiIdutI ond Mehro to objective sounding. sheer empiricai generin principle qlizotion is doomed 61s q reseorch strategy. but cn olternotive . 1995). ttr. from From a postmodern perspective. .rocotullry for tolking obout persons. A surprisirr!.g." Cronboch (I982: 70-71) thct "general. and (c) the eqse with which resesrch results ore tronslqted into policy recommendotions or disseminoted to the potentiol subiects of resesrch (thus radicolly oltering the possibilities ol replication). historically situoted ncture of social science reseqrch." There sre mony lessons for the crisis of generolizcbility in the sociol sciences. incentives. but becouse of its distinctive and persucsive style (Vcn Moonen." Whcrt is importont to note is the impcct such cestheticolly lompelling work ochieves irrespective of the vaiue of the empiricol work it inspires. Rtt texts reprlsent a series of choices concerning should be presented.r". losting definite 'lqws' qre ""alitft beyond the reoch oi social science . excmple. such cs (q) the impossibility of isoloting cll the possible contingencies thot con a{iect o. ond compelling intuitions reler to the rhetoricol 1984). similarly. 1977 ' tion.. ondstructure) helped ensure idecrs from populotion den disseminqtion to orgcrnizotionol scholors of (Howley. then whot is its purpose? Some postmodernists might be tempted to onswer in terms o{ the plecrsure of th. ond grotificctions. the qim oI sociql science is not generolizability.rog" foidescribing orgcnizations qnd their envinew concepts ronments" (Davis & Powell" 1992: 343)' Cronbqch (1986: 97) mqde <r similor "Murpoint concerning Murrcry's list o{ psychologicql needs ond presses: ioy offered. Problematizing Genercrlizcrbility: The Advqnce ol lgnorqnce From a postmodern perspective.rd porsi*ony. But qn octivist . This hos long been qccepted in the hord sciences elegance where equotions and results ore iudged on criteria thot include who produce o. Postmodernists ogree with Giddens (1984: xix)that "the uncovering of generalizqtions is not the be-qll qnd the end-cll oi sociol theory. The style of'expression (wtrere by style we the sudcommond of syntox. 1968) qnd community ecology this porticulor style mode 61v61ilqble "qn entire bottery of "*pr"""rioriin cnd iorrg. themotic uniiy.. Levins. logic. no matter how mqtter-of-fsct the text moy crppecrr how crrguments Ue. resesrchers qestheticolly pleosing texts gcrin influence because their insights compei qttention. Persuasive iexts olso ore (van Moqnen. (U) tfr. not o set of propositions intended to disploce oll competitors.rt"o*". . 1950)' Their biology (e. . the work of Kqrl Weick compels ottention not becouse it oflers tesiqble hypotheses for teoms ol groduote students. text: sociol science is vqluoble to the extent thct it provokes interest qnd excitement crmong proctitioners cnd recrders. scientific texts ore not immune ortistic constructions aesthetic considerotions. achieving high levels ol ortful crofting in terms of norrqtive (H61nnon & Freemqn.*o*lle from the modernist litercture is the origicommunol work introducing orgonizotionol ecology to the sociol science construcnity. If sociql science is not in the business of ploducing lcws of behavior. qnd these choices are embodied in the text.

. virtria-il. as Kuhn pointed out. but in possessing crn refined cnswers about fixed "rr. Giroux ior putting ideas into os transiormctive intellectucls skiiled in strcltegies o{ the ivory tower practice..466 Academy of Manogement Revjew April (1992: I5) wrote of tecrchers postmodernism requires more thon this. in ccrmpaigning to preserve questions' As phy in French trig'. An qctivist postmodern stsnce chollenges conventionol wisdom ond trgnsgresses. This is very d.p"rtoiie of questions. r.L to "npport conclusions. The quest. lecvingIs it not hand knowledge' the horizon of existing puzzles o"lv "t possible. the more we realize we don't know' ever grecrter knowledge of our own ignoronce' SUGGESTIoNSFonANDEXAMPIESoFPoSTMoDEnNISTRESEARCH thot Awcrreness of postmodern problematics mcy result in reseorch raised' ThOse who tcrke tqkes crccount of some or all ol the issues we hcve of existing a postmodern stcrnce mcry strive for the revolutioncrry overthrow rather thqn working to methodiccrlly fill in taien-for-gronted o""r*ptions the blcrnks in existing releorch programs. os opposed to statistical porticuiar. school{ crn$' ab-ove.ifferent from the modernist ideal of resecrrch' Postintellectucl uninterested in the practiccrl impliccrtions humcrn sciences modernists crccept the double hermeneutic by which the thqt are the foci oI o{fect ihe very phenomena (humclns and their wor}ds) laws on these infinitely study. whotle *t to say obout ignororice? o during tf.. in the We progress towcrd more we know. fo.f'From ihi= p"t"pective. Stondord stotistics ctre not enough to provide authenticity to the resecrch report. The reseqrcher moy shore not iust . thereiore.r-*or.. "socicl science is cumulative' questions."ri= whot there is to know. the scienti{ic knowledge olreodv century visible ". The postmodern preference is for detoiled understsnding of qnd locql times. In presenting eviden. then. oi'p"iit"pt even likely' that contemporqry scientists know less oiwhot'there is to know qbout their world thqn the (1970: 20) scientists ol the IBth century knew of theirs? sense that the The idea of progress in science is a myth. e*cr*fle. but to strive to shape public ihe teaching of philos_ohos done.tot"d.cII' to pose new in possessing not Cronbqch (1986:9i) .h.tlltt thirty yeors did not exist cls open questiols ot i" . the expcrnsitn by the expcrnsion of ignorance: with Though the bulk of scientific knowledge 9l:-"tly increases The problems solved time. those working o postmoiern position tend to provide os much vivid immediste detail to the recrder os possibie.. one of the most ever-richer problemotic' interesting pcrodoxes oi science is that progress is deeply crccomponied of knowledge is beccluse. foilocai knowlldge from irends. is not to impose c series of policies (crs Derrido chcngeoble phenomenq. eEtqbiished boundories with bold conjectures ond innovqtive methods' ReSeqrchers working exqmfrom q postmodern perspective moy limit themselves to the detailed rqther thqn trying to genercrlize over hundreds inotion oi one or q few "or"" the of iases.t'"it".

"*. ethnogrcphy.g. to be combined.cs thinking thcrn usua]. This meqns striving to involve voice' in the text. iohn stucrrt the terms plained in 1865 thqt "though the mode ol thought expressed by positivecrndpositivismiswidelyspread.l in Roscoe. tlierefoie. Portoghesi. therefore.*p. or positivist/ontipositivist.1997 Kildult ond Mehro as letters' summcries of evidence but the cctuql evidence itself. detailed conversotions. ig87. as the strcrw mcrn as somehow representative of modernism (e.ri*"rrts. this legocy is cvoilable for pick on positivism Postmodernists in thl social sciences have tended to qnd. of postmodernism's relevqnce. textuql deconstruction. Mcrnning. We chcrmpion the simultcrincluding neous availability of crppcrrently incongruous resecrch methods sophisticcted Icrborctory . deconstruction.rot.oih. Reseqrchers odopting postmodernism tend to the reader tion to the writing process itself. but to give the reqder confidence to pursue reseorch from creatively to postmodern voriety o{ styles.oiy". 1995). The pr". its manifestations cre so multiforious. As cn indicotion o{ the rqnge of resecrrch th6rt we think exhibits elements of postmodernism. esch"*irrg pcrssive obiectiviiy for an active authoricrl ncrrcrtive' crnd carelully crofting an aestheticcllly pleasing to reiect We olso or""rt ticrt postmoderniit reseorch does not hqve selective use' the modernist legcrcy.toilobl" from a postmodern pelspective' Discussing crctuql exomples ol research crlso cllows us to comment on many fecrtures of postmodein writing that develop Irom engogement with epistemological questions. to rule out any method or duqlities such qs modpostmodernist's repertoire. the frypoifr"tico-deductive method and the are elements qucrntitcrtirre crnaly=is chcrrScteristic oi positivist resecrrch elements cvailcrble to the reseqrcher. l99l).o. 1995: 492)' From our pre{erence {or perspective. But qttocks crgoinst which their own work can be judged Mi]] (1865i1965) comon positivism crre ot lecst o century old.. If postmodernism is impossible to summtrrize' be.r. we continue to drow inspirction from postmodern architects who combine postmodernist theory oni prcrctice.wordsihemselvesqre.. KroII. better known through the enemies of thcrt mode of postmodern through its iriendsli (q. Agg-er. priori predictions' necesscrrily signol the researcheis' commitment to o used as helpful summcries Hypotheses crre rhetoriccrl devices thqt ccln be of ih"oty and qs guide posts for the reader' qpproach from the We reluse. does not terpietctiorr.the. we decided to comment on work as some excrmples of resecrrch. cnd stqtisticai or.. crnd a discussion of the resecrrcher's pcry great attenintuitions. We included work that responds problemctics irrespective of whether the authors identified themselves os postmodernists (ci. possibly' with other and semiotic insuch crs ethnogrcrphy. Architects have not only engcrged in crilicai debates concerning iostmodernism (Frcmpton. Jencks. Our intent is not to privilege some a canoniccrl. 1987. such own photos. for exomple. The intent is to widen rother than rorro* the possibilities o.r=. . biography. lg83. . We intend to go beyond ernist/ontimodernist. one wcy to convey the excitement of this cpprocrch is to point to specific excmples' In mcrking =err"."t of hypotheses in c: text.

such deconstructions NeverIished canon-icol works ore rcre but in demcrnd (Van Maanen' 1988)' quclities of communicctive theless. 1994). stqte-of-the-art porticipcrte odological {inesse. qnd in offering (in cr {ootnote to his qriicle) to provide the dcrtc on disk to the reader of tris radical recnolysis. work that exhibits the postmodernist methrelevonce. Kqtz.Louvre in Pcrris draws attention to architecturol detail thot Otherwise the ottention might poss unnoticed..J. W. (I966) Burt'. ond sets up c clcrsh of styles that owakens his repuDerrida established to controsting traJitions.rre.s (1987)recrnalysis of the clcrssic colemon.look to the field might look like' as to whcrt o' opfii. mGny university cqmpuses in the United Kresge rcte exqmples of postmodeinist orchitecture (exomples include Pqlmer ond the College. in many ways. he critiqued Saussure's (I966) ossumptions concerning bet*een signifiers crnd signilieds.d postmodernism of orgcnizqtions olso prcrctice it' Architects . and on explicit invitation to the recrder to in the resecrrch crdventure ot" to be Iound. of orchitecture' then' for clues Museum ot Penn Sl"t.lndeed.ri"" excmple. wcrs dominqnt scross the whole the social sciences (Derrida. where interest Fuchs & Ward. in the fierd of orchitecture. brought the reader into the project of science rather than insisting on <r rigid demorcotion between scientist ond qudience.ho.rot orrliy theorize about postmodernism.structuralist-enterprise. the project is left unfinished in cI typicolly postmodernist gesture of inclusion o{ the crudience. ot the Urii""t"it' ol California crt Sqnta Cruz. q recussitation of the origincl.thetqsksofproblemotizingnormol qided by detcriled knowlscience cnd undermining metonorrctives are postmodernists mode edge of the classics of tie iietd' In mony cctses' clqssic their most audacious stqtements in the context-of the reigningcommuby the scholcrly stcrtements thqt sre customcrily token for gronted qddition of gloss pyromids to irr"". account of the dilfusion of the ontibiotic tetrocycline qmong Midwestern physicicrns is one exomple ol reseorch thot exhibits some postmodern chcrrocteristics without crny explicit claim to a postmodernist lobel' Burt's work is. Similcrly. Jqcques of coreful deconstructions of clqssic works" For totion through o the corre". in reconstructing ihe originsl dqlo.9. Thus. qt the time. which..468 Academy o! Managemenl Feview April work' and they hove qlso constructed buildings where people live' Stctes now incorpoploy. evocCItion qnd trcnsmutqtion of tradition. in postmodernist enquiry is growing (e. He literqlly rescued the datq lrom destrr"tiott by recovering the oncient woter-damcged dctc cards from a moldy *or. they postmodernism we argue that orgonizationol resetrchers con criso put into reseorch Prcrctice. Decorqte the Spcrce: Reviving the Clcssics 1982). and Menzel . thus rcdicolly undermining "porrd^"rr". thL "iiv. Fromourpostmodernperspective. I976)' ol estobIn the orgcrnizctional studies Iitercrture. crnd he made these dcrta avqiloble to everyone interested in investigcting the stories presented by the originol outhtrs crnd himsel{. One excrmple is token irom sociology. Burt.

By choosing G ccnonical doto set to deconstruct.nd Mehrs 469 quolity Burt both invoked the originol work. see.pectives. {rom a postmodernist perspective.=p""tive. Rcrther. The giclnt housing projects..r. ond undermined the work by showing thot the original work suggested notion for diffusion could not be sustained. As o possionote stotement of odvocqcy i.used to advance cn ogends thot wqs cleorly importont to Burt' There is simply in no pretense in the orticle that the oncrlysis has been performed lor o porticuthe service o{ science. the piece serves to ignite discourse rqther thqn o clqssic to compiete the seorch for truih. Physicians. proising it for the high originol explaof the dotc. but structure the octions proper to occuponts o{ their positions in the sociql ol collecgues. Note thqt Burt did more than tqke dotq set cnd reqnclyze it os a methodologicol or conceptucrl exercise (qs he does elsewhere..s onolysis' on their perceptions of cions relied. to lack cny connection to classical ideals o{ hormony with surroundings. Burt's work succeeds in communicoting the excitement of p"r"orrot discovery rother thon the dullness of objective onalysis' At the s. Celebrcrte the Local chontment with the modernist style of Le Corbusier. the dato reonalysis is powerfuliy tied to o revolutionory undermining of ossumptions thot go for beyond the porticulcr dota set in question.me time. rivols. odopted the innovotive qmong structurql equivoorder to gcin cdvontog" oi". Competition the lents-thqt is. like Derrido. Burt used hoving to rituolly of the typicolly modernisi structurcrl opprooch' For from such reject modernist qdvonces in technoiogy. Burt. qnd by offering everyone the opportunity to confirm his critique. postmodernists con use advcnces Ior their own ends' In the case of Burt's qrticle.l9g7 KilduII o. premised on structural equivolence the tools rother thon on cohesion omong disCussion portners. he <rlso ovlrturned our faith in whcrt had come to be the cccepted explonotion for sociql influence.ot. he rodicolly chollenged not only the occepted interpretotion of one of the clqssics in the iield. Thus. Mies Von der Rohe. According to Burt'. 1976). reoders are invited to onalyze the work from their o*rrtf. thot disfigure the cities o{ the world opp. the structurol oncrlysis progrcrms were . thus. omoni rivals who could substitute lor eqch other in In presenting socisl system-helps"expioin the diffusion of innovqtions' his own expionation foi diffusion. in chollenging the occepted proctice ol enquiry. The thot physicions relied on conversotions with collectgues in deciding physiwhether or not to odopt G new drug.. .. not on ctllegial convlrsqtions. for excmple. Brutolist architecture often violotes the colloquiol giommor of surrounding buildings ond lcndsccrpe" One oi the mojor recsons for postmodernist architects' disen- . Burt succeeded. for excrmple.. crccording to this view. ond their ossociqtes wos the perceived foilure ol the "machine-for-living" ethos. drug in ..

s (Iencks. power-lqden enqqtments of those mecnings in everydoy situotions" (Kondo. shifting. the coil for increased attention to local knowl& Mcredge hos been sounded most clearly in cnthropology. cr sense integrcrte within. for excrmple. orgonizationql settings hos begun to A book thcrt provides s detqiled ethnogrcphic exomincrtion Of the confiicted orgonizationol production of the seil is Kondo's (1990) occount of identity tionsformation in Tokyo sociol settings. through the ores whiie gcining an to ing of the historiccrl signiliconce o{ th-e sP:ce. Kondo's success (ond consternation) in mcstering the vcrieus gendered identities cvcilqble to young women in Icpcn provoked cn intense interest in how identity "is negotloted.(see Clifford . 1983: 22*23)' In the socioi scienles. detail"a "thtttgrophic crppeor. open. by contrast. She showed how her own identity cs o Jcponese-Americcn womon *o= .r. the result of culturally crvoilcble meonings and the open-ended. i990: 24). fecrtures Benicrmin Franklin's scryings "ghosted" in stoinless steel above his preserved memorabilicr ond public space ollows o-r piaqu. mcrcho mqle peers.e. crpplies not just to the world ouiside the sel{." Within orgcrnizcrtionol studies. tgg6. seeks to both comment upon.. such fecrtures of the environment thot promote the postmodern developof cJntinuity with the local past. crmbiguous. Geertz. house ment of Franklin court. I989: l4). A recent excmple o{ how to achieve a degree ol authentic local representotion within the limits of c journcrl qrticle is Cqssell's (I996: 4i)exomination of how women surgeons embodied themselves in s ccreer dominated by "crggressive. by Starbuck's tl98Il devastqting critique of the Aston studies) hcs been fiercely resisted by those who deline sociol science os consisting of only this tcind of work (see.g." Cosseil ovoided the reduction . there{ore. I968: 33) hqs been decried to turn Geertz (1983: I82i "os o proposol for a perverse sort of olchemy gold into leod. This outdoor museum and immedicrte understondp"opt"io rrro. e. 1983). Philodelphia. For excmple.474 Acodemy of Monogement Feview April l'f Kenneth Frcrmpton (1983: l7)wrote o{ modernization's optimum """ eqrth-movlng equipment to crecte flcrt sites thcrt ore the prerequisites Ior "the victory of universcl civilizcrtion over loccliy inflected culture"' cnd Postmodernist architecture. The modernist ospiration to "drclw pure structure by from its culture-specific crccretions" (Barkun. The architecture serves past' Other promote 61 connection t surrounding buildings and the locol to creote idioiostmodern buildings tcrke crdvontoge of loca-l topogrcrphy using modernsyncrcrtic cross-cultu-rcrl challenges to occepted conventions istic techniques (Frompton. In this work Kondo convincinjly suthenticqted the postmodern emphosis on the fluidity ol identity. the movement owoy lrom (cr movemcss survey reseqrch on dtzens of empiricclly derived variobles ment signcried. Her work is postmodern in c veiy explicit wcy: she showed how texts qnd selves cre cra{ted productions within very specific sociol contexts. but also to the constitution o{ the seil..orrfigured in a voriety of contexts including the ]oponese home ond workplcrce (o small Tokyo candy mcrnufacturer). Fiction.rr. Donsldson' 1995)' work within conflicted ond locolized Nevertheless.

.. but eschewing dogmctic cloims to verity. to iniimidote ond discipline is (Cossell.permitted to oUaoi' nilg1ter educotion. and why subordinote women nurses social order' ciously to femcrle-".1997 Kildutl c'nd Mehra 47r ol male/femole dif{erences to either biology or c socicl constructionist crnd experiplcsticity..d c" =trong emphlsis on understonding she tried to balance embodied experience of the 33 women she studied' sampling clt the first representctirreness ond diversity. A comprehensivethe diversity o{ thesomple site wqs followed by the =trct.s owens (tsgg. crnd all else follows' (a) humons .re bioiJgically divided processes' She drew or (b) gender differenJe" o. I996: 47)' Bourdieu's (1g77) concept is Jsensitizinj aevice that permits the elucidation of differences without the resort to either grond theory or reductionist dichotomies' Ccrssell's work is pcrt ol the leminist chollenge to the mqster nqrrqtives of modern mctn.. 1996: 48)' According mcles.rrg"ott='chcrllenges to the embodied the personal. *L= quite fronk . dichotoon explonation of difference beyond simple gender or biologicoi qmbimies. crs q rebel cgoinst an embodied set of structuring (cossell. cossell's seeks olso underploys the rhetoricoi importonce of methodologicol rigor. she sought cn explonation of the ccreer patterns the crguments that to ences of femqle ="ig"o. Her work is postmodern in possessing personol certointy work ond conviction.i.. 5g) has poirrt. Co=="il speculoted oboutthe nun' who of importanc" ro. . I996: 49)' common schemes ol perception ond conception" obout the possibility thot she CosseII.ro "orr""ponding on qn individuol senters. .d out. prohibiting or invcrlidoting rizes certoin representqtions .qnd to tecrd. and of the scme time offers (Foster' epistemologicol critique of existing proctices of representstion not Igg3: xiii). Cassell pta. tggO' IZi." t'"oted by sociqlizction why some mqle suron Bourdieu's (1g77) concept of hobitus to illumincte of femole Surgeons g"on= regcted with visce.gy of moximizing wos Africonin the four remqi"i"g sites: "l-l-l lecrrrred of c surgeon who yet observed' I hcd not Americcrn or Orthodox Jewish." without limiting herseli into two sexes. and crttempts an tious'r"esolution to the problem ol generclizing from her scmple' She crrgued thclt the concept of hobitrt "qllows for fine-grained discriminations without sccrificing t'he crbility to generalize" (cassell. os outhtr. tu*"re surgeons of the cotholic habitus . tgS6:51). Feminist postmqdernism is politiccl in its chcrllenge qn to the stcrtus quo in pctricrchical Society.projecting upon the surgeons my Qwn personq] reactions to the might be certcinty choices they must Lot ond thot my feeling of utter viscercrl "more obout me thcn obout the women surgeons" obout this onolysis soys (Cassell. or one in o speciolty oi professioral situation' I tried or in a pcrrticulorly interesting personcrl the possible to study her" (Cas="tt. principles ond Ievel. gives voice to underrepresented ncrrratives. postmodernists seek of power thot outhothct system to trcnscend representotion but "to "*po=" while blocking.in the seivice of humonity" habitus is ovoilable lor Jewish women disto cqssell.ol *i*ogyny to the presence inoperotirrgroo*"'*frttheiemqlt""g"ot'stendedtohoveCotholic sometimes reccted vi- bcrckgrounds. eoch of whom must "pcrinfully de{ine herself.

crnd this . This most Iorious of postmodern buildings succeeds . I." pcrticrl citqtion phenomenon' Merton recent qrticle (1995) excmining the hod attributed the so-colled Thomas theorem ("If men define situations cs recl.." Mix and Mctch: The Eclectic Approcrch visual impclct Postmodern qrchitecture (Ichieves much of its stunning styles through on explicit eclecticism that ccrefully combines clqssicol humor with o Pop-icon {rom <r voriety of iiff. Feminist postmodern reseqrchers seek to represent norrqtives of those sublects rother thcn obiects crnd to give voice to the "principles of the qs the who violate whcrt Cc="eU (1996: 46) ielerred to incornote sociol order.with its neighiors. cctuclly wcs responsible for the poweltheorem is solved ecrrly in the qrticle in an extended footnote' But o relqtes to the iul norrcrtive tension irives the crticle forwqrd. cllone. they are real in their consequences") to w. Merton relerred to the article qs "this discu.. he found himsell confronted by cln ol institutionalized sexism in qttributing the theorem solely to the male quthor o{ the book in which it crppeored. Nevertheless. His previous Iootnotes explcrining the crttribution hqd no discernible effect. I. but has been "If I have the ophorism. I.. it is by stclnding on the shoulders of gicnts. ""pot crnd This porticulqr combination of humor. In whqt way is Merton'. the pcst.'nd rlilect on the contemporory crnd Philip the AT&T Hecrdqucrters buiiding designed by Philip Johnson references eclectic Burgee feotures q cqthedral-like tose thot incorporctes buildings: 37 stories to both the Itolion Renaissonce cnd Egypticrn sqcred "with gently upturned eors' of pink gronite ond a 50-foot split pediment of refinement" (lencks' 1987: cr characteristic eighteenth century gesture in opening up 23I)." but this fclils weqves textuql frcrgments. mostered eclectic borrowing is rcrre in the sociql sciences.thebuildingretoinsotypicalSenseofpostsplit pedim-art modern humor: mechqnical equipment hidden behind the "*tt"" the tempercrture is right" (Jencks' 1987: blows out cloudsoi 23r).472 Acodemy ol Monogement Feview April women cs others. by Robert Merton (1965) in trocing the source of in his more ond seen further. the style ol the article "deports from the tidy format that has come to be prescribed for the scientific pcper" (Merton' of 1995: 379).s orticle clcrrilying the cluthorship of the Thomqs theorem postmodern? First.rent periods ond traditions scene' For exomple' designed to cppecrl to . and obServcrtions together in pursuit oI the biogrophy of <r sociologiccll ideq' The mystery qs to whlther W. historicol scholorship.rsive composite to copture the 6lqn with which he qrchivql documents. I. cnd the grid of New York" (Jencks' o discourse 1987:234)'AttheScmet-ime. Thomqs and Dorothy Swqine Merton hod previousiy exploined in footnotes thot Dorothy Swoine Thomas herself hod confir*"d io him that this theorem wcrs formulated by qccusotion W. letters. Thomcs in severol previous publications despite the fqtt thot the theorem cppecrred in the Thomqs' 1928 book written by both W.

From o postmodernist resecrrch perspective.rrtt. scrtire.tosomeextent'inovercomingtheprobiems of o cloim' of how to represent the evidence and how to assert the truth presented os cr story' with He did this through c highly pelsonalized text. It is not enough to m_erely Thomqs declored correspondence exists that shows thqt Dorothy Swoine attempted w.l972:193)'Echoeso{thisstqtementoreoftenhecrrdconcerning orgcnization6rl reseqrch (e. qnd w' I' Thomqs' between her and w.1997 Kildu|l ond Mehro 473 us o{ whqt dilficulty of establishing the truth. L Thomas to be the sole progenitor ol the theorem' Merton'. Thus. and humor (see Fine & Mqrtin. ond between Merton of the mqtter in q Readers crre enqbl"a to judge ior themselves the truth to summcrrize the wcry that would be impossible were Merton content not merely typescripts evidence.By contrqst. these detcils establish the culturcrl bcckground conembedded' qnd which the collaborqtion between the Thomcrses wcts context of the trasts eqrlier. he drew on the tlcditio. Further. postmod. This full inclusion of source moteriqls of Dorothy text enqbles the reoder to discern not merely the strengthand Merton' iiomqs's testimony. including heip with cubut crctuql photocopies. personol nsrrqtive.r*t prcrctices with the somewhat dilferent contemporarY occrdemY. I wqnt to be good" (Fleming. Honour.g.rii"t" preler the interesting over the obvious crnd plqce cr high vcrlue on porodox. postmodern eclecticism' tradition of emerging Secrrching for Pcrradox The modernist ethos is summqrized in Mies Vcrn der Rohe's ophorism. The cpporently irreievcnt detcrils qnd contextuolizing the dispute over thenticqting ttr.r-c" he has before the reader' himsell qnd facsimiles of qII letters becrring on this question between appcrently irreleDorothy Swaine Thomqs. Merton identi{iqble chorcrcters. contrqst. & "I Pevsner. cnd cn clrlcly of epistolotory evidence' As the mentioned.. rqther thcn to preseni it in Iull. within "orr. cnd irony in the work oI Erving Goi{mcn). origins. letters ihat contoin much other. How con Merton convince from o he believes? This is the dilemmo fqced by the sociol scientist privcte qssert thot postmodern perspective. of the epistolory novel and on the ISth-century npvelist strecrm-of-consciousness techniques initioted by Laurence Sterne (in lristrcrm Shondy)' This ccrse study seeks to estqblish overthe truth concerning ong sentence in the history of sociology' Merton but monoged to whelmed the reodJr with the sheer volume oi evidence orrsy this evidence in an oestheticcllly pleosing text thot mosquerodes oi not &s scienqe but os finely wrought fiction. there is no point in estqblishing the obvious through laborious reseorch.. don't wcrnt to be interesting. for o discussion of scrcqsm.Mertonsucceeded. Thomqs. in the body of the vont information. .. I995: 23D. This work is one exomple and highly how cqreful scholorship.s includes This solution is to put oll the etide. Such reseorch not . but the rel<rtionship between her i. counterintuition. I. Donqldson.orrrbine to produce work of lcsting vcrlue in the best chcrged humor "or. 1995.rporrde"cl. ciiticol thinking.

nor cccompcrnied by other grond-sounding nomes to buttress the q crrticle's'claim to ottentio. Jcmes is referenced ond quoted in the first sentence o{ the resecrrch report. In the cqse ol the emotions. of Schcrchter and singer's (1962) effort to uncover the determinqnts emotional stote exhibiti mqny postmodernist features' First is crn explicit crppecrl to clossic references in the field. crn incorrect explonction. trqnslsted copies of this work to the reqder.footnote. including the reader in the reseqrch endeavor.' search for the terintuitive. I959. thus. work from very difierent eras is treoted cs port ol cr continuum' There is no pretence ol c drostic "breqk" with trcrdition. hilarious dromq. on the contrqry. quote extensively from. Not only is work from o very different erq introduced c:s c classicol frame {or the contemporory.r. This does not mecn cln endless pursuit of ploce the new. the counPostmodernism. but it olso wqstes resources knows' on reseqrch questions thqt simply conlirm what everyone olrecdy nonobvious. or no explcrnation. The experiment itseli is a mcrsterpiece of doublecoded. references establish qn historiccrl context lor the contemporcry resecrrch. ond comment on a 1924 poper publishgd in a French journol. the trqdition is evoked crs mesns ol communicoting the continuity of the scholqrly trcdition. in a chcrqcteristic postmodernist gesture. In a typiccrl postmodern fashion. thus setting the report in the requisite classicql tradition. the clqssic reference wcs William James's (1890) theory of a connection between bodily stcrtes ond emotions. qnd diqlogue necesscrry for the creation of the illusion thqt cn experiment on vision is underwcy. As we hqve olieody crrgued. invoives . setting. associates (e. The high point of this drqmc comes in the description of how the stooge creoted for the subject either ci euphoric or on cngel explcnction of the puzzling odrenalin-induced crrouscrl. Schochter & Singer.g. postmodernist enquiry tcrkes Thus. i962)' One exqmple will suffice to illustrate how far this work depcrts from the majority of the lqb experiments thqt crowd the pages of the clpplied psychology journclls in which most microorganizotioncrl behavior reseorch is published.474 Academy ol Monagement Ferriew April (thus violoting only brings soci6rl science into disrepute with its publics the postmodernist emphqsis on relevqnce). Note thot this reference to James is not grcrtuitous. in discovered by postmodern enquiry ore likely to be deeply embedded cnd counterpoised to the clossic themes of the field' Reference has olready been made to the postmodern chorcrcteristics and their of the experimentol work oi L"otr Festinger. Festinger & carlsmith.. and the surprising. but resecrrch from <r diflerent culture is crlso presented crs relevcnt ond vitql io the resecrrch continuum: the quthors reference. In the euphorio condition. The quthors go to consideroble trouble to enqct the drqmatic props. stonley schqchter. the stooge plogresses All of these vitql .o{fer. which is shown to spcrn over 7b yectrs. 6:nd. in o. then. the parodoxes in the context of the long trcdition of modernism. Adrenaiin-influenced subjects are either provided with the correct explonction for symptoms of qrousol.

smoking cesscrtion. offers *orry opportunities for qctivist postmodern reseclrch. such cs the determinqnts of emotionol thus esccpe stcrte. tradition. and contextless empiricism while borrowing freely from the crvcrilqble repertoire of methods crnd resegrch styles in rigorous chollenges to conventioncl wisdom. we clre with "With ho* mony men (other thqn your fcther) hqs your mother hod "4 qnd under' extrqmqrital relotion=hips?" The avcliloble ccrtegories crre 5-9. (schochter. been the very dispcrrote stotes of euphoria cnd cnger"' This experiment is qn excmple ol how q postmodernist social science qnd the IuIl pcrnoply of modernist con employstcrgecraft.I997 Kildulf ond Mehra 475 qng:er condition from doodling to paper bosketball to hula hoops. We hove emphcsized cr relqtively inclusive version of postmodernism in this . ond l0 and over"' as the The results of the experiment include such humorous touches "who threw open description of the sublect in the euphorio condition. ond the . hr*ot. ond cognitive dissoncnce. hurled pop"t bosketballs crt pcrssersby"'The given preconclusions confirm the potentiolly revolutionory hypothesis: arousql"'we hclve' cisely the some stqte of qdrenqlin-induced emotionol qble to produce in our subiects by mlcrns of cognitive mcrnipulctions. besides his colloborative work on sociql qffiliotion. methodology to excrmine topics.""iio" stretches qcloss disciplines in pursuit ol the interesting ot eclecticism. ANTI'CONCLUSION We were at o meeting of quantitotive sociql scientists recently and one of us hcppened to mention. ends on the floor. . tend to hove highly diverse ccrreers. Postmodernism. in the course of q conversotion between sessions.. Iying ot the crossroqds of mcrny disciplines. questionnoire told. The postmodern og"rrdo-i" to crvoid parcdigmatic norrowness. ih"t"*p"nse of the obvious. thcrt lie of the boundories ol severcl disciplines ond irom segregoted acodemic departments. of rigorously collected qucntitstive doto cnd those postmodernists dismissive of oll cttempts to use data to represent the world. like Schachter. In the qbout the questionnqire to ongrily the stooge progr""r"" from complcrining qnd hurling the pieces crossing out items to tecrring nf tf. the two sides eye eoch other suspiciously while fighting for journcl spcrce crnd ocademiq advcrncement' We crre not sure whot can be done about this undeclared wqr. on interest in the work of Derrido. olso colIaborated on pioneering contributions to reseorch on obesity. Postmodernists. loughing. in its "i. The questlonniire in the cnger condition. It is ecrsy to forgei the gulf between those empiricists distrustful of speculotion in the ob"err". obvious hypotheses.wcrlks theory of stock market vqriqtion') Orgcnizctionql studies. emotioncl stcrtes.orido. Across this gulf. The result wqs cstonishing: cr senior socicrl scientist stcrggered backword os if physiccllly struck' Thot the invocqtion of Derridq's ncme should evoke such q viscerol response is one indicotion of the polorizotion between empiricists ond postmodernists. the window cnd.

R.=. *oy" thqt lnhonce rcrther thqn detroct from the research adven- "rrri"* . Nord (Eds. Clegg. & Frqncis. in short. Boudrillcrrd. Posfmodern theory: Ciltico| inlerrogolions. S. New York: Semiotext(e)' (Ed'). I. Much resecrrch. New Hqven. E. 1989. ws offer less a mop o{ the territory thcrn signposts on how to storm the Bostille of conventionqi thinking. Law without scrnctions: Order in prirnitive sociefies ond the world community. Hordy. I968. Such resecrrchers rigorousiy exclude intuition or tive experience from their resecrrch reports. chollenging conventionql wisdom. postmodernism: Their sociolqgicql vonce. Outline ol a theory o/ proctice. Mcny researchers who seek to confirm conventionol wisdom qssume thqt dotcr represent the truth about crn objectively subjecmeqsured world. resecrrch. In s.. Modernism. clearly. S.. Hondbook o! I9l-217. Stories ol the storytelling orgonizotion: A postmodern cnolysis ol Disney os "T<rmqro-lqnd. for eosily lose siglt of the revolutionory potential of postmodern ideas in this article the picctice oiso-colled normol science. On crcknowledgments in ethnogrophies' In J. 1g88. ond giving voice to points ond perspectivei hitherto silenced ccrn employ some cspects of Lpprooch. lgg5.).. Boje. & w. RepresenloBen-Ari. Criticcrl theory.*oii. B. Simulotions. M.. M. privilege. ond occounting. Von Maonen lion in ethnography: t30-164. crnd the parcrdoxicql. Pqrt of our purpose reshoped by postmodis to suggest how orgcrnizctionol studies might be ir. Letting the chot out o{ the bcg: Deconstruction. CT: Yole University Press." Academy oI Managemenl /ournoL 38: 997-1035' Bourdieu. C. Englclnd: Combridge Univer- sity Press. M. Thousond Oaks. E. Burrell. organizations ond sociely' 14: l-28' Bqrkun. D. P. Ig77. G. post modernism qnd orglonizotionol anolysis 2: The contribution ol Michel Foucqult. 1995. Criticol theory ond postmodeln opprooches to orgonizotionol qrgqnizqtion studies: studies. London: Scrge' Arrington. Ioils to roise from chcllenges to pcrradigms ol enquiry or proctice'-ot'q fails to benefit the whiilwind oi idecs crssociqted with postmodernism. D. however. & Kellner. Combridge. R. 1991. I983. CA: Soge' Best. I. much of the hypothesis-testing empiricql rese-qrch thot oppeqrs in our journols hqs tew it clny ol the features thot we hclve discussld crs postmodern. In drqwing ottention io-ipitt"*ologicol problematics thot postmodernists have surfaced' ond in suggesting how =on1" reseorchers hove begun to deol with these probI. & Deetz. Annuol Review o/ Sociology. R.476 Acodemy of Monogement Feview April article.s-conrmonly identified with modernism. c. Accounting. poststructulolism. 9:221-235' . The prcctice of resecrch should never be a timid qdventure' ' REFERENCES releAgger. I996.:w" hove'endorsed the inclusive elements in postmodernism ond hqve outlined how postmodern commitments to breaking down disciplinory viewboundqries. Organization Sludies. i7: 105-13I' Alvesson. and s_ignclly distrust humor' any irony. con Those caught up in the excitement of postmodernism. New York: Guillord Press. I991. but..

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