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Full Access Working Time on Mars

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Working Time on Mars

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The constancy of clock time as an effective work support technology has made it almost impossible to imagine a modern organization where time, specifically standard clock time, is not a component of the organizational infrastructure. Demonstrating the degree to which clock time has become embedded within the organizational sphere are the ways in which clock time operates as though it were a natural phenomenon, rather than a human-built technology (Adam, 1990; Anderson, 1964; Bluedorn, 2002; de Grazia, 1964; Zerubavel, 1981). The naturalization of clock time within organizations is evidenced by the reified assumption technology of clock time is fixed and cannot be modified to support contextually based temporal rhythms of work.

The opportunity to challenge particular notions about the relationship between time and work is found in the organization of NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers mission (MER). In addition to standard clock time, the MER mission employed an extra-terrestrial version of standard clock time, known as “Mars time,” to track the presence and absence of sunlight on Mars. Drawing on empirical data, I foreground the inadequacies of the time support technologies that led me to question the use of standard clock time as a way of ordering the experience of time on Mars. I argue that the naturalization of clock time within post-industrial organizations contributed to this occasion in which the scientific exploration of Mars was conducted according to an agrarian era temporal rhythm but for which work support was organized around an industrial era time/work relationship.

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