Organizing at high speeds: temporal pathologies in the UK Artificial Intelligence field

Christopher Baird, Michelle O'Toole

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


This paper questions the one-sided thesis that ‘speed’ is a defining feature of successful organization. While organizations are continuously advised of the perils of slowness, much less has been written on the pathologies of speed. We report these pathologies as they emerged during an extensive two-year study of the UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) field. Here, through 30 interviews, attendance at 20 AI-events, and considerable archival data, we encountered numerous AI workers facing strong tensions between imperatives for speed in AI work on the one hand, and a desire to steer AI work in a ‘robust’ and ‘beneficial’ direction on the other. While an emphasis on speed is frequently linked with performance, our analysis reveals it led to profound issues of widespread ‘precarity,' ‘corner cutting,’ and ‘temporal desynchronization.’ This suggests that when ethical and responsible organizational practice is desired, speed imperatives may need to be discouraged. We develop these insights further through an engagement with two of the foremost theorists of speed - Paul Virilio and Hartmut Rosa - both of whom are relatively untapped theoretical resources for management and organizational scholars interested in speed, temporality and related issues.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes
Event80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management - virtual
Duration: 07 Aug 202011 Aug 2020


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