First published in 1997, this volume asks: when was ‘The Postmodern’ in the History of Management Thought? Marta B. Calás and Linda Smircich have chosen this subtitle as entry point to the collection for several reasons. The first, and most evident, is that it prompts us to reflect on the inclusion of a volume on postmodern organization studies within a series of books on the history of management thought. What does such inclusion signal? Are we saying that we are past the postmodern in organization studies? That we have transcended modernity and, beyond, postmodernity?
Similar to other social sciences, organization and management studies in the Anglo-American and European academy became impressed by the styles of ‘postmodernism’ and their epistemological companions, ‘poststructuralisms’, during the 1980s.
For this collection we have selected twenty two journal articles, published between 1985 and 1996, that we consider emblematic of postmodern endeavours in management thought, as they further our understanding of how ‘truth’ (of any paradigmatic persuasion), is fashioned through particular discourses and other signifying practices.
Taken together, these articles address the following questions: What has the field accomplished through attempts at being postmodern? With what consequences? And, where does the field stand now, if it is still/already (going) after ‘the postmodern’? In our view ‘the postmodern’ cannot transcend modern management thought; it is, rather, part of it. Nevertheless, the mere appearance of efforts towards making the field ‘postmodern’ makes it important to account for them in the history of the field. Such is the narrative that we are trying to portray in this volume.