Toward a Consciousness-Based View of Organizing

Marja Turunen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Organization theory has provided several conceptualizations of organizing, and the most widely-used of these rely on the assumption that issues and environment are known and that the operations of the organization can be controlled and managed. This view of organizing focuses on planning and streamlining for the known future with a small group of experts, and for the most part clears the experiential ambiguities of organizational stakeholders out of the organizational equation. Furthermore, the vulnerability of organizations has increased because of the pace of change, motivations of the different stakeholders and their meta-processes producing unknown consequences of organizing activity for the entire system of the planet. Recently, theories of attention have argued that organizations are systems of distributed attention. However, little is known of where this organizational attention arises in organizational theory. For instance, a survey of the extant literature shows that the most influential theories use the concept of attention in multiple ways. In addition, the theory addresses mostly the subjective or social notions of attention, leaving no role for the distributed consciousness in the non-human systems that intertwine in organizations. This suggests that a broader concept, which responds to the need to understand the connected ecosystem, is needed. The interdisciplinary notions of quantum studies have theorized on the distributed and entangled nature of intentions in all matter. Consciousness is one of the most studied phenomena in human history, but without an active debate about consciousness in organizations. Therefore, this study asks: What is the consciousness perspective of organizing? It fills the gap in our knowledge of consciousness in organization science, expanding the concept of attention toward theories of consciousness, of which attention is a part. Furthermore, the thesis proposes methods of organizing from a consciousness-based view. This perspective is based on conceptual development and empirical findings in the international data from the research stream on 'narrative knowing'. Methodologically, this thesis applies both interpretive and reflexive methods, the narrative streams of inquiry and organizational ethnography. The contribution of this thesis is to suggest a consciousness-based view (CBV) of organizing. In addition, the conceptual analysis of consciousness proposes that attention is a part process of a bigger system of consciousness. Each of the five essays included in the thesis develops a particular contribution to increasing the knowledge in organization theory on consciousness and its distributed, entangled and fundamental nature in creating sustainable, ethical and innovative ways of distribution of wealth through organizing.
Translated title of the contributionTietoisuuskehäinen johtaminen
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Järvenpää, Eila, Supervising Professor
  • Teerikangas, Satu, Thesis Advisor
  • Garud, Raghu, Thesis Advisor, External person
  • Boje, David, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-6549-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-6550-2
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • organization theory
  • organizing
  • consciousness
  • storytelling
  • strategy
  • innovation

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