Disorganization At Work: What Is It, How Does It Work and Why Does It Matter?

Dinuka Herath, Davide Secchi, Fabian Homberg

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


“Disorganization” also referred to as ‘mess’, ‘deviation,’ or ‘disorder’ is a concept embedded in the view of organizations as complex human systems. The word hints at organizational phenomena that deviate from organizational schema and procedures in an unplanned and unstructured manner. This is a concept that is yet to be given full attention by management scholars, despite its continuous appearance partially under different labels throughout the history of the discipline for over five decades. Currently, there is a need for contributions that synthesize these various branches of management thinking into a coherent narrative. In addressing this gap, this article presents a review that synthesizes and integrates these various strands of literature on disorganization with the intent to explore whether and to what extent disorganization can contribute to management theory and practice. As such in this paper we systematically gather, review, organize and integrate the extant literature (n. 157) around the concept of disorganization to map the evolution of the concept. In so doing, we lay out a foundational body of literature that highlights the importance of enhancing our understanding of management through the integration of disorganization into our conversations about modern business. As such this paper presents the theoretical infrastructure for the definition, analysis, and treatment of disorganization management. Through the exploration and analysis of the literature, we propose new conceptualizations while mapping out the development of the concept over time. This is followed by exploring the implications these developments present to both management theory and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022
EventThe 82nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management: A Hybrid Experience - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


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