Monochronic vs Polychronic Time

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Edward Hall:

"Monochronic time (M-time) and polychronic time (P-time) represent two variant solutions to the use of both time and space as organizing frames for activities. Space is included because the two systems (time and space) are funtionally interrelated. M-time emphasises schedules, segmentation and promptness. P-time systems are characterized by several things happening at once. [...] Americans overseas are psychologically stressed in many ways when confronted by P-time systems such as those in Latin America and the Middle East. [...] In a different context, the same patterns apply within governmental bureaucracies of Mediterranean countries: A cabinet officer, for instance, may have a large reception area outside his private office. There are almost always small groups waiting in this area, and these groups are visited by government officials, who move around the room conferring with each. Much of their business is transacted in public instead of having a series of private meetings in an inner office. [...] By scheduling, we compartmentalize; this makes it possible to concentrate on one thing at a time, but it also denies us context." (

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Commentary by Joi Ito at