Role of Time in Organizational Studies
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0137
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0137
Time is an inescapable, fundamental, and ubiquitous part of everyday life that is interwoven with every aspect of work behavior. As speed has practically become an obsession in the business world, time is an increasingly dominant facet of employees’ work experiences. Although its importance is largely undisputed, however, time has traditionally been woefully neglected in organizational behavior and organizational psychology research. One of the most prolific authors on this topic, Joseph McGrath was among the first to study the intersection between temporality and groups as well as organizations. The perfunctory “we need more longitudinal research” in the discussion section of articles has become cliché, as almost every area of research in organizational science can better integrate temporality into research conceptualization and measurement. Although the numerous calls to make time more explicit in theories and studies seemed to largely go unheeded for decades, interest and momentum regarding time has been building in recent years. We provide bibliographic support for research on time at the individual, team, and organization levels as well as discuss national temporal culture and methodological work.
Overviews of the Role of Time in Organizational Studies
Much of the research on time has been conducted at the individual level, and a number of reviews nicely summarize this work. Joe McGrath was a pioneer in highlighting the literature’s neglect of time, calling attention to temporal problems, and overviewing conceptions of time, as seen in McGrath and Rotchford 1983 and McGrath and Kelly 1986. Following McGrath’s seminal work, Bluedorn and Denhardt 1988 provided a review of temporal research in the management literature, including both micro and macro organizational behavior studies. George and Jones 2000 as well as Mitchell and James 2001 argued for the need to incorporate time in theory building by explicitly specifying duration and when events happen. As the introduction to a 2001 special issue of the Academy of Management Review focused on time, Ancona, et al. 2001 called management research to actively incorporate a “temporal lens” instead of allowing time to be peripheral and implicit. Building upon their earlier temporal work, Bluedorn 2002 reviews the literature on time-based individual differences, and McGrath and Tschan 2004 provides a roadmap for researchers to consider temporality in methodological design. More recently, Roe 2008 illustrates that stability is the exception and change the rule in organization science, while Sonnentag 2012 organizes temporal research into broad categories to further empirical research.
Ancona, D. G., P. S. Goodman, B. S. Lawrence, and M. L. Tushman. “Time: A New Research Lens.” Academy of Management Review 26 (2001): 645–663.
Advocated that management research adopt a “temporal lens,” focusing on when behaviors start, how quickly they happen, and in what cycles.
Bluedorn, A. C. The Human Organization of Time: Temporal Realities and Experience. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.
This book describes several aspects of time from a variety of perspectives, including the human experience and construction of time, as well as the resulting realties. Concepts including polychronicity, subjective time, temporal depth, convergence, and time management are discussed in depth.
Bluedorn, A. C., and R. B. Denhardt. “Time and Organizations.” Journal of Management 14 (1988): 299–320.
Comprehensive review of various perspectives on time for micro- (e.g., individual differences, decision making, motivation) and macro- (e.g., strategy, culture) levels that concludes that much more research is needed on time.
George, J. M., and G. R. Jones. “The Role of Time in Theory and Theory Building.” Journal of Management 26.4 (2000): 657–684.
Identified key theoretical issues regarding temporality and reviewed various time dimensions. The duration of time states and types of dynamic rates are advocated as constructs to contribute to future theory development.
McGrath, J. E., and J. R. Kelly. Time and Human Interaction. New York: Guilford, 1986.
This book explores reasons why time has been neglected in theories and measures and offers an integration of conceptual and operational issues in the psychology of time. Discusses social entrainment theory, which proposes that routines internal to the team become synchronized with pacers external to the team.
McGrath, J. E., and N. L. Rotchford. “Time and Behavior in Organizations.” Research in Organizational Behavior 5 (1983): 57–101.
Overviews dominant conceptions of time and offers strategies for coping with temporal problems. Described the term entrainment to explain temporal processes in social and organizational behavior (e.g., organizations have annual cycles).
McGrath, J. E., and F. Tschan. Temporal Matters in Social Psychology: Examining the Role of Time in the Lives of Groups and Individuals. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2004.
This book examines the social psychology of time, temporal aspects of social psychological processes, and how temporality matters for research methodology.
Mitchell, T. R., and L. R. James. “Building Better Theory: Time and the Specification of When Things Happen.” Academy of Management Review 26 (2001): 530–547.
Urges the management discipline to be more precise with the timing, frequency, and stability of measurement in both theory and measurement.
Roe, R. A. “Time in Applied Psychology: Studying What Happens Rather than What Is.” European Psychologist 13.1 (2008): 37–52.
Calls for a paradigm shift in applied psychology by arguing that change is the status quo and stability is the anomaly for organizational phenomenon.
Sonnentag, S. “Time in Organizational Research: Catching Up on a Long Neglected Topic in Order to Improve Theory.” Organizational Psychology Review 2 (2012): 361–368.
Offers four ways in which time can be conceptualized in organizational research: time-related constructs (e.g., temporal focus), time-sensitive processes (how activities occur within a temporal continuum), time lags (when things happen), and temporal context (temporal boundary conditions for when propositions should hold).
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Abusive Supervision
- Applied Political Risk Analysis
- Approaches to Social Responsibility
- Assessment Centers: Theory, Practice and Research
- Authentic Leadership
- Bayesian Statistics
- Behavior, Organizational
- Behavioral Approach to Leadership
- Behavioral Theory of the Firm
- Between Organizations, Social Networks in and
- Brokerage in Networks
- Career Studies
- Charismatic and Innovative Team Leadership By and For Mill...
- Computational Modeling
- Conflict Management
- Corporate Social Performance
- Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB)
- Cross-Cultural Communication
- Cross-Cultural Management
- Cultural Intelligence
- Culture, Organization
- Data Analytic Methods
- Decision Making
- Emotional Labor
- Employee Aging
- Employee Voice
- Empowerment, Psychological
- Entrepreneurship, Corporate
- Entrepreneurship, Women's
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Faking in Personnel Selection
- Family Business, Managing
- Financial Markets in Organization Theory and Economic Soci...
- Findings, Reporting Research
- Fit, Person-Environment
- Goal Setting
- Hofstedes Cultural Dimensions
- Human Capital Pipelines
- Human Resource Management
- Human Resource Management, Strategic
- Human Resources, Global
- Human Rights
- Humility in Management
- Impression Management at Work
- Innovative Behavior
- Intelligence, Emotional
- International Economic Development and SMEs
- International Economic Systems
- International Strategic Alliances
- Job Analysis and Competency Modeling
- Job Crafting
- Job Design
- Job Satisfaction
- Leader-Member Exchange
- Leadership Development
- Leadership Development and Organizational Change, Coaching...
- Leadership, Ethical
- Leadership, Global and Comparative
- Leadership, Strategic
- Management History
- Management In Antiquity
- Meaningful Work
- Multinational Corporations and Emerging Markets
- Neo-institutional Theory
- Neuroscience, Organizational
- Organization Design, Global
- Organization Development and Change
- Organization Theory
- Organizational Adaptation
- Organizational Behavior, Emotions in
- Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs)
- Organizational Corruption
- Organizational Identity
- Organizational Justice
- Organizational Legitimacy
- Organizational Networks
- Organizational Performance, Personality Theory and
- Organizational Responsibility
- Organizational Surveys, Driving Change Through
- Organizations, Big Data in
- Organizations, Political Ideology in
- Organizations, Social Identity Processes in
- Pay for Skills, Knowledge, and Competencies
- People Analytics
- Performance Appraisal
- Planning And Goal Setting
- Psychological Contracts
- Regional Entrepreneurship
- Reputation, Organizational Image and
- Research, Ethics in
- Research, Longitudinal
- Research Methods
- Research Methods, Qualitative
- Resource-Dependence Theory
- Response Surface Analysis, Polynomial Regression and
- Role of Time in Organizational Studies
- Safety, Work Place
- Selection, Applicant Reactions to
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy In Management
- Self-Management and Personal Agency
- Service Management
- Shared Team Leadership
- Status in Organizations
- Strategic Human Capital
- Strategy and Cognition
- Structural Contingency Theory/Information Processing Theor...
- Team Conflict
- Team Newcomers
- Teams, Global
- Technology and Innovation Management
- Technology, Organizational Assessment and
- the Workplace, Millennials in
- Theory X and Theory Y
- Time and Motion Studies
- Training and Development
- Training Evaluation
- Unobtrusive Measures
- Virtual Teams
- Work and Family: An Organizational Science Overview
- Work Contexts, Nonverbal Communication in
- Work, Mindfulness at
- Workplace Commitment
- Workplace Gossip
- Workplace Meetings
- Workplace, Spiritual Leadership in the
- World War II, Management Research during