'PROCESS AND ENTERPRISE: TOWARDS THE LIBERATION OF MANAGED HUMAN LIFE'

MARK R. DIBBEN

Department of Management
University of St Andrews KY16 9AL

and

Joseph Needham Centre for Complex Processes Research, Melbourne

ABSTRACT

Management is about controlling and containing, structuring and limiting behaviour. It is premised on Newtonian conceptualisations of thought which seek to simplify by the stabilisation and eventual ossification of (in)action. The bureaucratic managerialism that has accompanied the move to globalism and the power of the multinational is thus one of the most striking examples of misplaced concreteness that we experience. What I shall be doing in this paper is making the case for another kind of management, that embodied in entrepreneurship. I shall seek to demonstrate that, with a change of perspective, management can be life enhancing. The perspective is, of course a process perspective, one that sees the purpose of human endeavour as the creation of value from the environment. I shall also attempt to argue that this need not be destructive and negative, as management would suggest, but rather constructive and positive. This is so in terms of social interaction, society and economy. In order to do this, I shall draw on a range of process thinkers: Gare, Chia and Tsoukas, Whitehead and Bergson, and Tenzin Gyatso - the Dalai Llama. I shall warm up, by way of background, with a consideration of the role of enterprise in our economies, and look at traditional conceptualisations of entrepreneurship in economics, sociology and psychology. I shall move on to question the nature of entrepreneurship and suggest that business as substance, product, persistence, exploration, exploitation and continuity focuses on the static. By way of a detour, I shall answer this contention by a look at disciplines, fields, forms, norms and Humpty Dumpty. I shall then attempt a re-conceptualisation: Entrepreneurship as activity, innovation, change, novelty, potential, exploitation as a paused and stabilised moment in exploring and, lastly, not confined to business. I shall conclude by arguing that a compassionate, processual outlook on life that enables novelty and potential, and the creation of value, is life-enhancing and life enabling and, thus, that life in its fullness is only ostensibly constrained by 21st century managerialism.