Imaginary technologies in healthcare organisations

The Oxford Handbook of Phenomenologies and Organization Studies offers a description of phenomenologies and post-phenomenologies, and how they relate to ongoing debates in Management and Organization Studies (MOS). Researchers from the NEGATE project were invited to make a contribution to the book.

Phenomenologies have been an important dimension of MOS. They are particularly helpful to understand organizing processes as experiences instead of mere representations or objectivations of the world. After introducing the thoughts of several key phenomenologists, the handbook on phenomenologies and organization studies explores various phenomenological issues for MOS, including new ways of organizing, entrepreneurship, decentred management, robots, artificial intelligence, algorithms, alternative organizations, communities and communalization, managerial techniques, cinematographic organizing, among others. Core conceptual issues, such as space, temporality, events, depth, ethics, embodiment, materiality, topology, imagination, techniques, emotions, or affects, are also included in this discussion.

The contribution of the NEGATE project in the chapter ‘In the future, as robots become more widespread’ discusses imaginary technologies that do not exist yet but are expected to be implemented in clinical work in the near future. Adopting a phenomenological view on the politics of organizational time, we illuminate how the rhetoric of futurity and protentional anticipation dominate managerial acts in healthcare organizations. This future-oriented management includes strategies of risk assessment, investments in emerging technologies, and other actions to reduce external uncertainty and move towards an enhanced capacity to cope with potential challenges. However, we suggest that potentially harmful consequences of emerging technologies cannot be established reliably in advance by investigation, experiments, and risk assessments. The phenomenological notion of embodied information infrastructure allows us to consider how visions of complex technologies intertwine with clinical practices in healthcare professionals’ work. We use two examples of imaginary technologies—automated decision-making (ADM) systems and care robotics—to concretize how the line between imaginary technologies and existing technologies becomes increasingly volatile in healthcare organizations.

Parviainen, J. & Koski, A. (2023) ‘In the future, as robots become more widespread’. A phenomenological approach to imaginary technologies in healthcare organisations’. In: The Oxford Handbook of Phenomenologies and Organization Studies, eds. François-Xavier de Vaujany, Jeremy Aroles, and Mar Perezts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 277–296.