Intervention de Sébastien Dérieux à EGOS Rotterdam 2014

Sébastien Dérieux, chercheur associé à l’IFGE, a participé à la conférence internationale EGOS 2014 qui se tenait du 3 au 5 juillet au sein d’Erasmus University à Rotterdam aux Pays-Bas. Il présentait un papier co-écrit avec Pierre-Yves Gomez, dans le groupe thématique 16: « Theorizing Time and History within Organization Theory ».

L’article  » Time but not History: Understanding Organizational Identity Formation and Endurance through a Transdisciplinary Analysis of Memory  » traite de la mémoire organisationnelle. L’argument principal est le suivant: la mémoire collective d’une entreprise n’est pas unidimensionnelle. La mémoire organisationnelle telle que le montre la littérature est un ensemble de connaissances pratiques. Mais la mémoire d’une entreprise comporte également une dimension communautaire liée à l’histoire et à l’identité d’un groupe social. Le papier anlayse chacune des dimensions et leurs interactions mutuelles. Enfin, les enseignements théoriques et pratiques sont tirés concernant la formation et la stabilité de l’identité de l’entreprise.

Extraits de l’introduction

« We do not have a clear view of what remembering means in social sciences, hence, if we add the inevitably related concepts of history, identity and culture, the picture becomes more intricate. Little research has been dedicated to the intersection of these concepts in management studies. The purpose of this paper is to how the importance of crossing them by providing both an analytical overview and a tentative theoretical contribution based on the underlying belief structure of a mnemonic community and its impact on the endurance of organizational identity.

Organizational memory is conceptualized as a repository of past information that can be used in the present (Walsh & Ungson, 1991: 61) and associated with the essential function of enabling learning and continuity of organizational knowledge over time. Good distribution, storage and retrieval of memory would correlate with good performance. This functionalist model has more recently been complemented by a reorientation of organizational memory towards history and sociology through the exploration of material traces (Anteby & Molnár, 2012; Delahaye et al., 2009; Nissley & Casey, 2002; Rowlinson et al., 2010; Suddaby & Foster, 2014). Most assume that repeating a narrative provides an enduring identity.While these studies  bring rare and new  findings, they overlook the internal dynamics of culture to explain why and what makes organizational memory resistant, or not, through time. It is been postulated that organizational culture is a strong support for identity endurance (Anteby & Molnár, 2012; Dutton, Dukerich, & Harquail, 1994; Ravasi & Schultz, 2006). We bring philosophical insights on memory (Augustine, 2012/397 CE) and anthropological insights to connect culture, memory and identity in a simple framework. We propose that collective memory of organizations can be best conceptualized as having two distinct and interdependent dimensions: a community and an organizational dimension. We suggest the community memory present in all organizations brings endurance and robustness to organizational memory and identity through the influence of non-conscious collective mental structures, that is, underlying common beliefs, on subjective and objective social structures.

We present our reasoning in three stages. First we explore the depth of the nature of individual memory to open our understanding of time and the dynamics of memory and its relation to self-identity formation. Then we review relevant theoretical insights and debates of memory in the field of organizational culture and business history. We finish with a tentative theoretical contribution by gathering previously explained theories and using structural anthropology to understand the endurance of social and organizational identities and the formation of constitutive communities. We conclude by suggesting that organizations have a community dimension and lay down arguments to show that distinguish organizational and community dimensions brings clarity and a heuristic tool to see into these complex matters. »

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