Innovation as a Parasitic Process: Towards Dark Organizational Theory

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  • Title: Innovation as a Parasitic Process: Towards Dark Organizational Theory
  • Author(s): Juan Espinosa
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Organization Studies
  • Journal Title: Knowledge Management: An International Journal
  • Keywords: Materiality, Innovation Studies, Post-ANT, Serres, Zero Objects
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2327-7998 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-9249 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2327-7998/CGP/v17i01/1-19
  • Citation: Espinosa, Juan. 2017. "Innovation as a Parasitic Process: Towards Dark Organizational Theory." Knowledge Management: An International Journal 17 (1): 1-19. doi:10.18848/2327-7998/CGP/v17i01/1-19.
  • Extent: 19 pages

Abstract

Innovation studies has been enriched by recent engagement with Actor-Network Theory (ANT), which appears to share many concerns with the management of externalities and the enrollment of allies. But this approach nevertheless renders the question of where innovation comes from mysterious. Drawing on the work of Michel Serres, we develop a “parasitic” account of innovation, where third spaces, inscribed in material artefacts and visual representation, intrude into the innovation process. Illustrating our argument with empirical material derived from a study of Med Dialysis—a medical technology company based in the UK—we propose that parasitic interventions distribute order and disorder in a reversible fashion within innovative organizations. Anticipating and responding to the parasite is treated as a central process for managers and engineers who engage with a representation of the world that is “constitutively vague.” We conclude with a proposal for developing an application of Serres’ work in management and organization studies—a “dark organization theory.”