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A Quantum Approach to Time and Organizational Change
ROBERT G LORD Hoffman Ernest L Jessica E. Dinh
Prevailing perspectives on time and change often emphasize the forward movement of time and the relative stability of attributes, an emphasis that fosters theories of organizational evolution as a linear progression of a past that moves to the present that moves to the future. While useful in many respects, this perspective obscures the uncertainty of emerging organizational phenomena, and it offers little insight into the rare and unpredictable events that change the course of history. To address these concerns, we draw on quantum mechanics and quantum probability theories to present a quantum approach to time and change as a framework for understanding organizational complexity and the common decision-making errors that lead to organizational failures within uncertain environments. This perspective also explains how organizations (or societies) can experience unforeseen potentialities that radically change their development by conceptualizing the future as existing in a state of potentiality that collapses to form the present based on the dynamics of system constraints. Our theory has broad implications for organizational theory and research, as well as management practice.