Title: A Theory of Imagination for Organization Studies Using the Work of Cornelius Castoriadis
Authors: Aris Komporozos-Athanasiou and Marianna Fotaki
Abstract: At a time when organizations are asked to imagine themselves anew in order to survive, organizational treatments of ‘imagination’ lack engagement with its profound political and generative nature. To address this gap, the paper draws on the works of Cornelius Castoriadis (1922–1997) and proposes a politically situated theory of imagination for organization studies. We build on Castoriadis’s core ideas of representation, signification and affect to develop a radical proposition: imagination is ‘where it all begins’, an inexhaustible psychosocial force driving organizations and organizing, and setting the institutionalization process in motion. To illustrate the great potential contributions of this proposition for organization studies, we discuss how three key persisting dualisms in organizational thinking, those between ‘representational’ and ‘non-representational’ inquiry, ‘body’ and ‘mind’, and between the ‘private’ and ‘public’, begin to dissolve when considered under our suggested framework. We then draw some important implications of Castoriadian imagination for charting alternative futures at times of economic and social crises, and identify some directions for future research.