08.23, or 823, is not only the year when Crete was conquered by the Saracens from the Byzantines and the birth year of Charles the Bald, later crowned King of the West Francia and the Holy Roman Emperor. It is also the name and symbol of a current day research community at the Umeå School of Business and Economics with a profound interest in projects, practice and temporary organizations.
The name, 08.23, may appear unwieldy to some but the story behind it is straightforward. 08.23 is the time on Tuesday mornings when we meet to discuss current research. It started as an 8.15 meeting but we seldom began until 5-10 minutes later since people tend to be late for morning meetings. Instead of sticking to the unachievable 08.15 plan, we adjusted to practice and decided to set the starting time to 08.23. Lo and behold – ever since people is there on time (well, with some exceptions that is).
This story nevertheless shows the importance of practice and how the constant battle between plans on one hand side and the actual behavior on the other hand side may cause conflicts or, at least, misfits and tensions. A similar observation can be done in most social science areas as well, where theories and models outlining expectations and desired behavior are at odds with how people, groups and organizations actually work. Research could focus on the theories and evaluate practice accordingly or it could focus on the practice and build theories in view of that. We believe that the latter option is where we can make a contribution based in organization science and social practice perspectives. Thus, as you may see, 08.23 carries the symbolic values we like to promote in our research and is quite a suitable name for our group.
08.23 is also a joint commitment to research and to each other’s endeavors. It is meant to be a community of support for the scholarly work we do in order to promote excellence in the research output. To that end, 08.23 is more than a Tuesday morning meeting. It represents a multitude of activities, our culture of doing research, our research agenda and, most important, our focus on research excellence.