AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
As a tool for self-examination in social contexts, particularly those at work, virtual organizing requires participants to share in the management of those contexts.
The notion of virtual organization, as presented by Mowshowltz , is appealing for development of a social psychology seeking to go beyond the positivistic assumptions held in mainstream social sciences and to place greater emphasis on the self-determination of human actors.
I argue that the concept of virtual organizing is consonant with the evolution of science in general and of the social sciences in particular and can help transform management science from the status of applied science to a real science of action, bridging the gap between theory and practice. Following Weick , I use the term "organizing" rather than "organization" to emphasize the process nature of social reality and to avoid reifying it into a static notion.
A New World View
Modern science, shaped and honed by the work of Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, and others, has assumed that our intellect could grasp the natural order of the world and contemplate its stable, eternal structure through an understanding of the universal laws governing phenomena.
This faith in the fixity of the universe was disturbed somewhat by Darwin's notion of evolution but even more so by Einstein's theory of relativity, asserting that no privileged absolute position of observation from above the phenomena is possible and that any observation is relative to the particular position from which it was made.
Quantum theory then asserted that the observing subject cannot really be separated from the observed object because the very act of observation interferes with the observed phenomenon, since it cannot be done without some kind of intervention. It went further, shattering classic assumptions by asserting that reality is not determinate, as the Newtonian view supposed it to be.
Classic mechanistic determinism was further challenged by the discovery by Ilya Prigogine and others that order can emerge from chaos from fluctuations far away from equilibrium, and that matter has some self-organizing properties that make sense of the emerging and growing complexity in an evolving universe.
We now conceive the universe not along the fixed stable order of perfect orbits of planets in the solar system but as a continuously changing and expanding universe evolving in complexity and self-organization.
The Subject, previously conceived as the puppet of the inflexible laws of the universe, is now increasingly understood as an autonomous agent capable of self-determination. The social sciences, long accustomed to aping the natural sciences in their positivism, are now beginning to acknowledge the specific nature of symbolic reality--of a human reality mediated by language quite different from what we conceive of as a mechanical, nonliving reality.
The social sciences now emerging refuse to consider human agents as "cultural dopes"  but seek to understand from within how human actors make sense of what they do, how they construct their own social reality. Such reality cannot be observed from an external position but has to be sensed from within, just as it is managed by the agents themselves in the contexts in which they find themselves. To accommodate this perspective, the classic analytic approach essential to modern positivistic science has to be replaced by a hermeneutic approach seeking to make sense of conduct, not from an external objectivist privileged standpoint but from the only accessible vantage point--that of a participant in meaningful communication with other actors. These actors share some tacit understanding of what is going on and can therefore account for what they are participating in, in ways that make sense for the other participants.
This new scientific approach thus involves making explicit much of what has been tacitly held, taken for granted "as a matter of fact" by all "normal" …