Science Fiction and Organization

Science Fiction and Organization

Science Fiction and Organization

Science Fiction and Organization


This international collection explores how science fiction can enrich studies of organization. This book draws upon perspectives from across the arts and social sciences, encompassing innovative approaches to both organization theory and the reading of science fiction


Science fiction 'methodology' meets the social and organizational sciences

David McHugh

The faster you travel the more forward visibility you need.

(Sutcliffe, 1996)

Although SF has been characterized by Clute and Nichols (1993) as a genre mainly determined by publishers, this chapter deals with SF as a paraliterature (see below) that embodies an SF methodology which James (1994) argues mainstream authors often fail to handle adequately. This notion of an SF methodology is founded in the very beginnings of science fiction and will be central to any possible articulation of SF and the field of organization. In support of such projects, this chapter aims to examine the reciprocal conceptualizations that have been produced by SF and the social sciences and in particular organization and management theory. One of the editors of this volume said that this was in danger of becoming a 'fan's paper'; well it is and I am. I am a fan of SF and of organization theory and I think both can enrich and illuminate the world. Our job here is to explore the limits of how they might do this together.

Before looking at what the social and organizational sciences want from SF this chapter will explore the provenance, conceptions, attractions and domain of SF. First though, we need to ask whether there is a relationship between SF and social science at all? For myself the question is very simple, the relationship is in me and in the way in which both domains have informed my worldview. The synergistic influences on the directions my interests have taken are something I will try to document as we go along. I will later examine previous attempts to analytically link the two domains. These have not had any great success and have more often come from those with an interest in SF than social science. On a superficial level both are inclusive of science, though much SF contains little recognizable science and many (especially in the organization field) don't like the appellation social 'scientist'. A more pertinent question is whether SF has a consistently different relationship to social science than does literature in general? My own experience here is germane in that for a number of years I ran a course in

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