Time as a periodization of management practices

Luchien Karsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Most studies in management and organizations take time for granted. They apply time in a simple form: the past is gone, the present is passing, and the future is coming. In that sense, time is considered as natural and underestimated. Additionally, the clock time concept in the management and organizations discourse is dominant and closely associated with the development of industrial society. However, in the periodization of management and organizational literature, this topic is not consistently respected. The purpose of this article is to describe the periodization of management literature by primarily focusing on the impact of clock time itself as a universally dominant abstract concept. Clock time opened the way for the development of controlling time by management leading to chrono-management. By taking a longitudinal perspective, it will be demonstrated that the management literature can be divided into three periods that have all developed different versions of an efficient application of mechanical time. Periodization, of course, is a political decision and, in my version, the history of management can be viewed as the discipline to primarily rule over the time of subordinates. I will attempt to show that the three distinguished periods of management practice are all components of chrono-politics and are the result of the three industrial revolutions that generated three consecutive forms of managerial controlling of clock time: ‘disciplining time’, ‘speed’ and ‘timing’. Yet, with the increasing importance of global business in cross-cultural environments, the study of time deserves broader attention from scholars focusing on concepts of social time reaching beyond clock time in international business and management practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-432
Number of pages19
JournalManagement & Organizational History
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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