Are artifacts such as the consultancy slide-show, the valuation formula or the consumer test representations of an external reality? Or do they rather constitute, in a performative fashion, what they refer to? One of the official objectives of PERFORMABUSINESS (as stated in the project’s official “Description of Work”) is “to provide an empirically-grounded theorizing on the problem of the performativity of business”: not an easy task, given the wide array of manners in which the notion of performativity has been put to work in social-scientific literature (starting with the seminal work of Jean-François Lyotard), and given also the overwhelming variety of business sites and business-oriented forms of knowledge that feature performative elements (definitely not only finance). If things go well, however, 2013 will be the year in which The Provoked Economy: Economic Reality and the Performative Turn, a book that attempts at fulfilling this task, will see the light.
The book is an extensive elaboration of the materials that were submitted for my Habilitation Thesis. The proposed theoretical vocabulary draws from a pragmatist, process-oriented tradition in philosophy and concentrates on four specific problems: the problem of description (what kind of thing does a description produce?), the problem of the simulacrum (what are its truth and effects?), the problem of provocation (what does it mean to say that reality is really real when it is provoked, and hence realized?) and the problem of explicitness (what it is for reality to be bound to explication?). The empirical illustrations are based on original research on back-office operations in the financial industry, the automation of stock exchanges, consumer testing in market research, the pedagogy of financial valuation and the implementation of performance indicators in public management. The final manuscript is near completion and a contract with a publisher is in preparation. News on the finalization of this work (a crucial PERFORMABUSINESS deliverable) will be posted here soon.
Update (June 2014): the book is out!