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Time: A Kaleidoscopic Image of Bermuda's Sacred Financial Phenomenon and the Wealth of Social-Environmental Diversity

The Twenty-First Century human has: "Palaeolithic emotions; Medieval institutions; and God-like technology.” Dr Edward O. Wilson (Costa & Wilson, 2010, p. 18) Bermuda’s corporate centred economy has been less affected than other countries by the global financial crises in the opening years of the twenty-first century. Bermuda however, is experiencing intensification legacies of deprivation associated with systemic social fragmentation and environmental depravation. Such legacies of deprivation are increasingly associated with the form of capitalist dynamics intensifying the world over regardless of whether economic achievements in a nation are on the rise or in decline. I chose not to stand silently in witness to this exacerbating deprivation. I aspired to contribute to its transformation. I was aware of the significant private sector resources channelled into social and environmental philanthropy. None seemed to make a significant or sustainable overall difference. While my pragmatic aspirations were to make a contribution to the transformation of Bermuda’s social and environmental legacies, my deeper philosophical questions were about the efficacy of the potential of research activities to facilitate change. On this dimension, I sought to explore the extent to which a researcher could contribute to change by engaging leaders in conversations that might intensify commitment to or the direction of their actions around socio-environmental decline. Bermudian leaders, known for publicly expressed concerns similar to mine, were invited to join me in this research. To ensure the anonymity of those who preferred this, in this Report they are collectively referred to as the Corporate A Team – the CATS. Our conversations revolved around a seemingly all-encompassing social logic driven by economic priorities. I heard stories of significant effort to bring about social and environmental improvement, at times thwarted by others. Consistently within and across conversations, the priorities of the corporation 3 were explicitly or implicitly assumed. Despite their expressed concerns about the social and environmental decline they were aware of, it was as if leadership was mesmorised by their perception of an important need to serve the financial economy as a priority. At two significant points in the research process I found myself in a state of paralysis – unable to see my way forward to meet my aspirations to contribute to a transformation of this decline in the wellbeing of Bermuda through this activist inspired project. My project had been framed on the now well-established analyses of critical organisational theories with my aspirations pinned to their transformative intent. In the face of seemingly intractable conversations that prioritised corporate over social and environmental welfare I experienced a form of paralysis. I felt stuck. I allowed myself a time of rest and reflection. This rest and reflection generated a passion not to round off this project with a conclusion that the transformative aspirations of critical theorists just could not bear fruit in this case. Decision time! There are times when it is important to walk away from normalised ways of thinking. I began an intensive search for some radically different theories to help me understand the paralysis I had reached and a way forward. My attention was drawn to the emerging applications in organisational studies of the social implications of work in the field of quantum theories. Phase Two of my work had begun! Now the fast evolving ideas about quantum storytelling provided the infusion into my thinking of quantum materiality with storytelling (Boje & Jørgensen, 2014). Quantum Storytelling is the pattern of assemblages of material actants, non-human beings, and humans doing a Quantum version of Storytelling in the inseparability of spacetimemattering (Boje & Henderson, 2014). Older ideas about autopoiesis (Maturana & Varela, 1992; Maturana, Varela, & Maturana, 1980) came to my attention. These describe the self-motivated living organisation in living systems. Further insight was provided by theories of organisational miasma explained by Gabriel (2012, p.1139) as a “contagious state of pollution, material, psychological, moral and spiritual that afflicts all who work in a particular organization.” The research in Phase Two invited the observation of the interaction of space and diverse notions of time: ‘Aion’ expressed as a ‘time of eternal and/or enduring cycles’, ‘Chronos’ as ‘time on the clock’, and ‘Kairos’ as ‘time in creativity.’ The framing of a space to reflect on the significance of time led me to design a heuristic device I call a moon gate. Time was made the keystone of the moon gate. Different aspects of time, when reflected onto my re-consideration of my fieldwork, created a prism lighting up the twists and turns of kaleidoscopic images of the chaos of the markets and the creative diversity of people and nature. The recognition of Chronos and Kairos allowed for the noticing of synergies sparked by their appearances in terms of the time-space-mattering relevant in these modern ‘liquid times’ (Bauman, 2013; Bauman & Donskis, 2014). I offer suggestions for future research for productive currency in the contested space of Aion, Chronos and Kairos time. Ideas for meaning making are proffered as a contribution towards changing the mind-set of corporate leadership in a country historically organised in the tradition of an entrepreneurial for-profit enterprise. Bermuda has elements of what sociologist and social critic, Charles Derber (2000), calls a ‘corporation nation’ – a society controlled by powerful corporations and characteristics of what American feminist economist Nancy Folbre imagines as a ‘CorporNation.’ She describes a CorporNation as an island corporation in a fictional scenario.1 She imagines CorporNation as a 1 For an expanded definition, for the terms Corporation Nation and CorporNation, see Appendix F. 5 make-believe country owned by a multinational organisation that “takes no responsibility for human needs … it considers the maintenance of human life as conflicting with worker productivity” (2006, p. 211). Folbre opinion is that in her mind the CorporNation is likely to enjoy unprecedented success in global competition, at least until other corporations adopt the same strategy. She goes on to predict that in the future “… some will operate from space stations or previously uninhabited planets, rather than islands” (Folbre, 2006, p. 212). Despite its formal transformation into a modern day democracy, Bermuda, with its origins as a jurisdiction framed as a corporation is still run on a forprofit basis, a chimera being materialised as Corporation Nation. There is a strong presence of both the elements of a Corporation Nation and characteristics similar to Folbre’s CorporNation in Bermuda. To extend the thinking of Derber and Folbre, I combine both terms together to name Bermuda as a ‘corpor-nation.’ The term ‘corpor-nation will be used in this thesis to identify the Island as both a Corporation Nation and CorporNation type organisation. Trade and markets are necessary to any form of collective wellbeing. The shaping of markets to benefit corporate welfare over the wellbeing of people and planet however is unacceptable to me – be that in the context of a corpor-nation or a corpor-world. I believe in and work for a world that is sensitive to maintaining a fulcrum point based on the wellbeing of people and planet. This work is an expression of this commitment and my explorations of research.
Type of thesis
St Jane, M. (2016). Time: A Kaleidoscopic Image of Bermuda’s Sacred Financial Phenomenon and the Wealth of Social-Environmental Diversity (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11029
University of Waikato
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