War, the intentional destruction of human beings, of human lifeworlds and modes of livelihood, may appear far from the usual preoccupations of organization studies but nevertheless constitutes a prominent manifestation of the organized character of the contemporary world.
The relationship between the organization of production (as exemplified by the factory) and the organization of destruction (as exemplified by the battlefield) is of course as longstanding as it is well-known. Weber saw violence and its monopolisation as crucial to the development of state bureaucracies and it might also be argued that the institutional form of the ‘arsenal’ has been the site of many organizational innovations such as Eli Whitney’s development of the ‘American System of Manufacture’ or the rejection of Taylorism at the Watertown Arsenal. More recently, the RAND Corporation came to be seen as synonymous with the development of military-managerial techniques which aspired to be as applicable to the organization of destruction as they were to the organization of production.
Yet, important and well-documented as such histories may be, what we wish to encourage in this workshop is a more direct engagement with contemporary forms of organized destruction such as ‘war’, ‘terror’ or ‘insurgency’ and with the apparatuses through which they are enacted. We therefore seek to understand the links between organization and destruction by military/para-military forces within the very circumscribed time frame of the still young (but already quite bloody) 21st century.