PDW 2016

Representing Process in Process Research – meeting program

Saturday, August 6, 2016
1pm – 4pm

The Process Research Methods PDW targets researchers interested in studying how dynamic processes unfold over time, as individuals, groups, organizations and environments act and interact. This year’s PDW will focus on how scholars actually represent process in doing process research. The core challenge to representing process is capturing inherently dynamic organizational phenomenon, the central concern of process theorizing (Tsoukas & Chia, 2002; Feldman & Orlikowski, 2011) in a necessarily static form (i.e., text or figures on a page). Undertaking a process study has been said to “plunge the researcher into an evolving complex system” (Anderson & Meyer, forthcoming). Even before a scholar commits her or his process research to the page, challenges to representation arise. Our everyday language is poorly equipped for describing processes, meaning we often begin with ‘things.’ How do we best portray the processes at the heart of process research, which describes “how and why things emerge, develop, grow, or terminate over time” (Langley et al., 2013: 1)?

Representing process is challenging for reasons that extend beyond the challenges associated with portraying persuasive insights from rich datasets (e.g., Jarzabkowski, Bednarek, & Lê, 2014). For example, representing process demands attention to the temporal ordering of data (Langley, 1999; Jarzabkowski, Lê, & Spee, forthcoming) but researchers also need to be aware that it is often necessary to disrupt order to generate novel insights (Locke, Golden-Biddle, & Feldman, 2008). As well, while some process research insights are captured only by observing long periods of time (e.g., Howard-Grenville, Metzger, & Meyer, 2013), single moments of situated interaction can, in other cases, encapsulate and reveal more ubiquitous organizational processes (e.g., Mazmanian & Pine, forthcoming). Finally, visual displays are frequently important elements of process research publications but the drawing and redrawing of figures that effectively convey the ‘doings’ of processes is notoriously difficult. Some scholars have explored other forms of representation, including music, for its power to “evoke, recall, describe, suggest, [or] provide an experience of … [what] prose … cannot.” (Albert & Bartunek, forthcoming: 28). What level of ‘zoom,’ and what kind of analytical, drawing, and writing practices are appropriate and helpful for those doing process research?

Part 1


Part 1 is open to all without pre-registration.

Will include presentations on the challenges of and approaches to representing process by Martha Feldman, Paul Spee, Hans Berends, and Fleur Deken. Alan Meyer will reflect on the presenter’s remarks and moderate a discussion between the panel and audience.

Part 2


Part 2 is open only to pre-registered participants.

Researchers will receive feedback on their own process research projects in small group round table discussions with the presenters and other facilitators. Potential participants will submit short papers about their process research projects; we encourage, but do not require, participants to share their challenges associated with representing process, in keeping with the theme of the first part of the PDW.

Registration Information

Part 1: No registration is require for Part 1 of this year’s PDW.

Part 2: Download and complete the 2016 Part 2 Workshop Form. Send the completed form to Andrew Juneau (ahvstaff@umn.edu) by July 3 July 10, 2016.


Website coordinators: Andrew H. Van de Ven, Harry Sminia, Jennifer Howard-Grenville