The use of time in the design, conduct and write-up of longitudinal processual case study research
In reflecting on 30 years of fieldwork experience in conducting longitudinal case study research on organizational change, this chapter focuses on the way time is used to direct empirical practice and inform conceptual analysis. It commences with a discussion on the temporal nature of change and the difficulties of accommodating nonlinear conceptions of time into longitudinal research designs. From a processual perspective, an understanding of change focuses attention on the underlying processes of flux and movement, of emerging and interlocking patterns and sequences of activities that configure and reconfigure forms of organizing. Organizations are viewed as evolving phenomena that experience variations in the scale and scope of change as they are continuously reconfigured through activities and choices. In viewing change as a dynamic process that is ongoing in organizations - both as emergent incremental processes and as captured in large-scale radical change initiatives - temporality and contextualization are central (see Dawson 2003b). However, whilst a conventional conception of time can be used as a chronological stopwatch for marking the beginning and end of defined change initiatives, it is not able to capture the nonlinearity of time and space in which our current interpretation of events are influenced by past experiences and future expectations.