Tamara: Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry

Relationality and Phenomenological Organizational Studies

Letiche, Hugo

University of Humanist Studies, The Netherlands

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Robert Cooper has developed a discourse of organizing, centered on relationality. It is a discourse grounded in third generation phenomenology and pointing to fourth generation phenomenology. Phenomenology in its first (Husserl) and second (Merleau-Ponty) generations developed the epoché (procedure of investigation) whereby research transcended the natural attitude and forged contact between the researched and the researcher. Progressively logocentric 're-presenting' was transcended in (third generation) phenomenology via empathy and intersubjective awareness. Phenomenological 'research' has become the creation of dialogic and empatic identity. Despite the potential richness of such research, the ethics of shared awareness and involvement continues to pose major problems of consequentiality. If research is based on empathy and relationship, how does the researcher do justice to relationality? Without a clear link between awareness and action, it is very difficult for phenomenology to develop as a dialogic form of organizational studies. Ontological insight into the pre-structures of the life-world, however philosophically fundamental, will not suffice. Phenomenological research understood as a complex adaptive system (CAS), is (potentially) an alternative that respects relationality and honors the ethics of empathy. But truly radical relationality - for instance, embodied in the (very) flesh of life --- (in fourth generation phenomenology), challenges the very possibility of organizational studies.


Journal Tamara: Journal for Critical Organization Inquiry 
Volume 5 
Issue 3 
Issue date 2006 
Type Article 
Language en
Pagination 7-18
ISSN 1532-5555