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The Transcendent Organization
Gustavsson, B. (1992). The Transcendent Organization. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

Organizations are human constructs, and unless the organizational analysis takes into account a wider discussion of the relationship between the subject and the object the analysis ends up in relativism, anarchism, and confusion. There is a danger when we make the organization objective to such extent that it is viewed as an entity outside ourselves. Understanding of an organization is a collective phenomenon given by the prevailing fundamental assumptions in society, and is transferred by symbols, including language.

It is argued that there is a need to go beyond, to transcend, the objective understanding of the organization. To transcend the objective status of the organization does not mean to replace one objectification with another, but to transcend to more abstract and holistic levels in consciousness. It is suggested that pure consciousness, the most fundamental and abstract level of consciousness, is fundamental and common to all humans and also unites mind and matter, as some quantum physicists suggest. The existence of a collective consciousness is also shown, as indicated by the so-called field-effects of consciousness in several studies. Collective consciousness is defined as the average degree to which the individuals in a group reflect pure consciousness. It is argued that collective changes in the in the behavior and perception in groups of people are possible.

The general perspective of consciousness and collective consciousness is applied more specifically to organizations. The Transcendent Organization exists — beyond the concrete objects we call organization — in the collective consciousness of the members of the organization in the dynamic interplay between the knowers, known, and process of knowing. The meanings expressed in the goals, visions, and "culture" of the organization form a particular collective consciousness of the organization. It is also argued that the level of the collective consciousness of the organization determines the quality of its behavior in terms of adapting to the environment, creativity, and the members? autonomy.

Some of the suggestions of the Transcendent Organization are studied empirically on managers and employees practicing meditation in two top management teams and in one company. The results illustrate that the taken for granted notions of organizations were transcended, that change processes coming from within the organization were started by raising the level of consciousness, and that field-effects of consciousness were indicated in small groups.

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