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A theme is a pervading idea which serves to organize and align a strategy, objectives, offerings, etc. of a business organization. Identification of themes simplifies explanations and understanding while it validates the elements of the theme. When viewing the parts or elements of a theme, the view of the whole can be formed from the views of the parts.

Themes in complex responsive processes of relating --
Themes are an essential element on complex responsive processes. Themes are repeated patterns that develop and occur in human interaction through categorization of experiences. This process produces identity and difference -- the sameness of identity and difference of changes in that identity. Aspects of themes include such things as values, norms, ideology, emotions, and desires. First, categorization is addressed, followed by themes.

Categorization (Stacey, 2001, 154-156) --
Categorization of phenomena is essential to making sense of the world. Without categorization, all stimulation to the senses would be received a priori equal. In that case, what would be received is noise, which is of no value to the receiver. Categorization includes, excludes, and categorizes stimuli for the benefit of the receiver. Categorization reflects knowledge (see intelligence hierarchy). Changes to categorizations reflect changes in knowledge - the creation of knowledge and the emergence of meaning. In the context of complex responsive processes, experience categorization is the basis for creation of identity and ideology, making up the themes that provide order to organizations.

The logic of categorizing experience --
The act of naming or categorizing an experience is an act of breaking that experience up into different parts, and relating those parts to each other. To categorize is to place experience in one category rather than another, thereby identifying a difference from other experiences not placed in that category. There are two broad classifications of the effects of categorization --
  • Symmetric Logic -- The effect of categorizing is to locate similarity within the category, so obliterating differences between experiences in that category. This is called symmetric logic.
  • Asymmetric Logic -- The other effect of categorizing is to locate and emphasize the difference between those experiences in different categories, emphasizing the difference and obliterating the similarity between them. This is called asymmetric logic.

Identity and categorization - symmetric and asymmetric logic --
Identity and ideology form through categorization of experience. At the center of identity is symmetry, an unconscious symmetry that cannot be tested without destroying that identity (Stacey, 2001, 154). These categories are viewed as natural. Technically, they are not viewed explicitly, only implicitly, as 'truth.' In any discourse, there are categories taken to be natural, the equivalent of identities. These categories are homogenized and hidden from questioning. Natural categories constitute the social unconscious -- what is being made unconscious is the power differential. People cluster around their similarity -- the symmetrical -- to hide the difference of power within the group while preserving unconsciously sensed power differences between the groups. Experience categorizations become entrenched as ideologies, which make behavior seem right and natural. The use of the logics of symmetry and asymmetry serves to obliterate some differences and highlight others, so polarizing experience. What is unconscious is basically the themes sustaining identity and defending against its fragmentation or destruction.

Organizational change and knowledge creation --
The ongoing communicative interaction in organizations causes both stability and transformation. Communicative interaction simultaneously patterns human experience in two opposing ways 1) as stability, continuity, and identity and 2) as potential transformation. Any organizational change, any new knowledge creation, is by definition a shift in patterns of communicative interaction, hence a shift in power relations and, therefore, a change in patterns of inclusion and exclusion. Anxiety is thus an inevitable companion of change and creativity and so it follows, are destructive interruptions in communication. Any change in the process of communicative interaction must at the same time constitute a shift in power relations and, therefore, a change in the patterns of who is ""in"" and who is ""out"", identity, and ideology.

Themes (Stacey, 2001) --
Themes and variations organize an individual's experience in the living present. Themes are patterns of experience that pattern interaction, having the characteristics of habit and spontaneity. Experiences are not organized in isolation, but by historical themes.

Theme emergence --
Experiences emerge, are organized, out of and depend upon the evoking and provoking responses from others -- with personal organizing themes for any individual depending as much on others as on the individual concerned. Complex responsive processes recursively form themes and variations. Communicative action of a body, with itself (its mind) and between bodies, the social, are story lines, narratives, and propositions, and propositional frameworks, constructed by those relationships at the same time as those story lines and propositions construct the relationships. They are all complex responsive processes of relating that can be thought of as themes and variations that recursively form themselves.

Variation and organization --
What is organizing itself in the ongoing gesture-response of complex responsive processes is the patterning of communicative interaction between people as narrative and propositional themes, in which variations arise when those interacting are diverse. See variation and organization.

  • Narrative themes -- the narrative-like themes form, and are formed by, the process of communicative interaction at the same time. Communicative interaction patterns itself in a self-organizing way in which patterns emerge from patterns, constituting the history of interaction.
  • Propositional themes -- the organizing themes do not take only narrative forms -- another form is that of propositions, or rules, and these also pattern communicative interaction in much the same way, this time producing emergent abstract-systematic frameworks, such as law, organizational procedures, or scientific theories.

Thematic pattern formation --
History constructs thematic patterns that select or enact bodily gestures in the living present at the same time as those gestures evoke and provoke responses in others, similarly selected or enacted by their history of experience, all in circular processes that reproduce and potentially transform the historical thematic patterns. The history of interaction, or experience, is what patterns people's relating to each other, based on the simultaneous narrative and propositional themes. Individual and collective identity emerges from narrative and propositional patterns.

Complex Responsive Processes of theme and identity formation (Stacey, 2001, pp 162 - 187) --
Aspects of complex responsive processes of relating are temporal processes of interaction between human bodies in the medium of symbols patterning themselves as themes in communicative action. These themes, with all their multiple aspects, are continuously reproducing and potentially transforming themselves in the process of bodily interaction itself. These themes are the emergent enabling constraints within which individual and collective identity and difference are perpetually constructed as continuity and potential transformation. The themes flowing from the past to the present, have multiple aspects made up of the multiple dimensions of identity.

Dimensions of identity --

  • roles related to fulfilling the organizational purpose
    • formally defined roles and relationships
    • informal roles and relationships
  • what people do consciously and unconsciously as they act jointly in a purposeful manner
    • the act of defining identity tends to obliterate what it is not, making what it is not unconscious
    • the formal identity of the organization is likely to be conscious
    • informal relationships are likely to be conscious
    • processes of great importance in sustaining identity are excluded simply because they are unconscious
  • relationships and practices considered to be legitimate
    • legitimate - those communicative interactions that are acceptable to conduct openly in public
    • illegitimate - illegal
    • shadow - themes, felt consciously or unconsciously to be inappropriate to conduct openly in public

Types of themes based on the three dimensions of identity --
Variations of the temporal process of themes flowing from the past to the present based on key dimensions of identity --

  • formal-conscious-legitimate -- themes reflecting the official ideology -- proclaimed visions, values, cultures, hierarchically defined roles, policies, procedures, plans, ways of using tools, such as information control systems.
  • informal-conscious-legitimate -- formal-conscious-legitimate themes are not sufficient on their own to for an organization to function. They are supplemented by the informal-conscious-legitimate themes and ...
  • informal-unconscious-legitimate -- ...supplement to formal-conscious-legitimate
  • informal-conscious-shadow -- this theme has the quality of spontaneity, often reflect unofficial ideologies, both conscious and unconscious.
  • informal-unconscious-shadow

Theme emergence --
Themes, like all knowledge, are continually formed. Some themes are reproduced with minimal variation, others arise spontaneously.

    Themes continuously reproduced with minimal variation -- as habits, customs, and traditions -- institutionalization, institutionalized configuration of patterning themes, expressing the official ideology, reflecting the current power relations they sustain are of the following types --
    • formal-conscious-legitimate
    • informal-conscious-legitimate
    • informal-unconscious-legitimate
    Themes arising spontaneously -- that may well undermine official ideology and so shift power relations. These are the precursors to legitimate themes
    • informal-conscious-shadow
    • informal-unconscious-shadow