The perpetual motion of the change machines

Mark Hughes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


The forward looking rhetoric of organizational change is in many ways the antithesis of management and business history. In the 1700s societies were gripped by an obsession with the promotion and promise of perpetual motion machines. In the pluralist spirit of this conference these machines are revisited offering an alternative critical metaphor to understand organizational change today. The paper’s analytical framework was inspired by Bloch’s (1995) interest in perpetual motion machines, the alchemy of transformation and the anticipatory consciousness of earlier centuries. This framework is applied to three high profile change machines of recent decades. Conclusions are drawn from comparing the perpetual motion machines of the 1700s with today’s change machinery highlighting the importance of remembering the future, the social construction of the future and the applicability of anticipatory consciousness as a radical means of understanding innovation and change.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication29th Annual British Academy of Management Conference
Place of PublicationPortsmouth Business School
PublisherBritish Academy of Management
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2015
Event29th Annual British Academy of Management Conference - Portsmouth Business School, 8-10 June 2015
Duration: 8 Sept 2015 → …


Conference29th Annual British Academy of Management Conference
Period8/09/15 → …


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