From blind dis/obedience to responsible organizing?

Photo Credit: Pete Linforth

By Richard Weiskopf

On my way home, I often pass a café, which displays an anarchistic saying in its show window: “Even more dangerous than the virus is blind obedience”. There is much about this saying that is correct and important. Much has been written and researched about “blind obedience” and its dangers. “I have only done my duty” – many “obedient” perpetrators have used this justification formula in an attempt to evade responsibility or to justify their own moral failure. But just as dangerous as “blind obedience” is “blind disobedience”. When one thinks of the various so-called “Querdenker” who today protest and defend themselves against the “restrictions” and “coercive measures” of the government in the context of managing the Corona crises, this becomes very clear. One must fear the “blind disobedience” at least as much as the “blind obedience”.

So perhaps the distinction between obedience and disobedience is not the core of the problem, but rather the blindness that is associated with them. Blindness – as a metaphor for the unreflected reaction to some impulse – is the problem.

Continue reading “From blind dis/obedience to responsible organizing?”

LehrePlus!-Preis 2020 für den Kurs “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid19”

Alle zwei Jahre werden an der Universität Innsbruck Preise für exzellente Lehre vergeben. Und angesichts von insgesamt 44 hochkarätigen Einreichungen freut es mich ganz besonders, dieses Jahr den Hauptpreis erhalten zu haben – und zwar für den mit Elke Schüßler von der Universität Linz gemeinsam konzipierten Kurs “Organizing in Times of Crisis: The Case of Covid19”. Vielen Dank auch an alle anderen, die zum Gelingen des Kurses beigetragen haben!

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ConJunction 2020 NEXT Friday – Guest Panelists and presenters confirmed!

For the Organization Studies Students and Alumni Day taking place on Zoom next week, guests for the panel on “Organizing in Digital Times” are confirmed. They are alumni Josefin Brüning, currently HR Change & Transformation Manager at Viega Holding GmbH & Co. KG; Sarah Nobis, currently serving as People and Culture Manager at Swarm Analytics; and Hannah Schupfer, currently a doctoral research fellow at the University of Oslo.

For this fifth addition to ConJunction is something new to our format (aside from being held online). Three masters theses will be presented to inspire future research for current students, as well as generate discussion:

Elena Ruh – Corporate Health Programs between the Ethics of Care and Corporate Colonialization
Lukas Nagel – Spaces of responsibility in algorithmic decision-making. An explorative study illustrated by the avalanche risk assessment of Skitourenguru
Melissa Köhler – Ambivalences of spaces for ‘other’ organizing: A heterotopology on Virtual Spaces in a Large-Scale Corporation

The event will be hosted via Zoom by Prof. Richard Weiskopf, Prof. Leonhard Dobusch, and Dr. Birthe Soppe. Representing the graduating class is Alina Seebach, with a valedictory speech.

Who: Organization Studies (OS) community
What: “Organizing in Digital Times”
When: Friday, November 20, 4:00 p.m. – 06:30 p.m.
Where: Zoom

Please find the program under this link and register here.

The event can be accessed via this Zoom link.

We look forward to your online attendance.

New Article in Organization Theory: Transparency and Accountability: Causal, Critical and Constructive Perspectives

Earlier this year, the journal Organization Theory launched as the sister journal to Organization Studies, similar to the distinction between AMJ (empirical) and AMR (theoretical) at the Academy of Management. Part of Organization Theory is a “Conversations and Controversies section”, where Maximilian Heimstädt and I managed to publish an article entitled “Transparency and Accountability: Causal, Critical and Constructive Perspectives”. The abstract of reads as follows:

Given the excessive power of Google and other large technology firms, transparency and accountability have turned into matters of great concern for organization scholars. So far, most studies adopt either a causal or critical perspective on the relationship between the two concepts. These perspectives are pitted against each other but share some basic assumptions – a fact which limits organization theory’s ability to fully grasp the management of (digital) visibilities. To address these limitations, we therefore propose a third, constructive perspective on these concepts. A constructive perspective turns transparency and accountability from analytic resources into topics of inquiry, allowing organization scholars to study how people in and around organizations put them to work and with what consequences. We introduce sites of ethical contestation as a new methodological strategy to conduct surprising and unintuitive empirical research from a constructive perspective.

The other article of the controversy has been authored by Richard Whittington and Basak Yakis-Douglas, who wrote about “The Grand Challenge of Corporate Control: Opening strategy to the normative pressures of networked professionals”. Both articles are available open access.

Save the Date: ConJunction Students and Alumni Day on November 20, 2020

The 5th annual ConJunction Students and Alumni Day of the Organization Studies (OS) community of the University of Innsbruck will take place online.

The theme this year is “Organizing in Digital Times”. The event will take place on November 20, from 4:00 p.m. to 06:30 p.m. on Zoom.

Register for the event here.

The complete program can be access here.

Efficiency, Efficiency, Everyhwere Efficiency: From a Linguistic Detail to a Paradigm in Organization Studies

This reflection essay is authored by Fabian Lugert and Richard Kempert, students in the master program Organization Studies at University of Innsbruck.

As students of Organization Studies, we often find ourselves in discussions, less often they get as intense as the one we had over the meaning and performativity of the word efficiency. This was challenging for us, because we constantly get confronted with the terms “efficiency”, “efficient” or “inefficient”. Subjectively perceived the word stem is used in every paper we read, which is not surprising as it is widely used and variable in its use. The most general definition of “efficiency” seems to be “doing the things right” (Drucker 1963). Other sources differ in their explanations. For example, the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “the good use of time and energy in a way that does not waste any” (Cambridge Dictionary “Efficiency”). Another explanation provided by the dictionary: efficiency is “a situation in which a person, company, factory, etc. uses resources such as time, materials, or labor well, without wasting any” or “a situation in which a person, system, or machine works well and quickly” (Cambridge Dictionary “Efficiency”).

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Aspen Institute’s ‘Ideas Worth Teaching Award’ for the Course ‘Organizing in Times of Crisis’

Hosted by the the Business & Society Program within the renowned Aspen Institute, the “Ideas Worth Teaching Award” is one of the most prestigious awards for teaching in business and management education. And I am very happy and proud to announce that the collaborative open course “Organizing in Times of Crisis” is among the winners of the 2020 competition – selected out of over 100 nominations.

As recipients of the award, Elke Schüßler (University of Linz) and myself had the honor to introduce our joint course in no longer than 45 seconds:

Check out the official press report by University of Innsbruck as well as articles on the university’s website in English and German.

EGOS 2021 Call »Openness as an Organizing Principle: Revisiting Diversity and Inclusion in Strategy, Innovation, and Beyond«

Logo of the 37th EGOS Colloquium 2021 in Amsterdam

The 37th EGOS Colloquium will take place from July 8–10, 2021 in Amsterdam, NL, and for the forth time after 2015 in Athens2017 in Copenhagen and 2019 in Edinburgh, I will co-convene a sub-theme on organizational openness. This year I am happy to team up with Violetta Splitter (University of Zurich) and Marieke van den Brink (Radboud University Nijmegen). Please find the Call for Short Papers (about 3.000 words) of Sub-theme 48: “Openness as an Organizing Principle: Revisiting Diversity and Inclusion in Strategy, Innovation, and Beyond” below, submission deadline is Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 23:59:59 CET:

Over the course of the past decade, we can observe a growing trend towards (calls for) greater openness in various organizational contexts such as open innovation, open government, open strategy or open science. To some degree openness has been recast as a programmatic organizing principle, promising not just gains in efficiency (e.g., Chesbrough & Appleyard, 2007) but also in terms of transparency (Ohlson & Yakis-Douglas, 2019), accountability (Whittington, 2019) and inclusiveness (Mack & Szulanski, 2017). At the same time, we can observe a growing body of literature on diversity and inclusion that addresses openness in terms of inclusive organizing (Ferdman & Deane, 2014; Mor Barak, 2016; Nkomo et al., 2019; Shore et al., 2018; Zanoni et al., 2010).

Particularly regarding inclusiveness, however, we see a detachment of research on openness in various organizational contexts (e.g. strategy or innovation) from other scholarly debates on diversity and inclusion that address inclusive organizing as such (for an exception see Dobusch et al., 2019). With this sub-theme we seek to make a connection between these two separate research streams because we see three particular avenues for crosspollination that will advance our knowledge about inclusion, diversity and open organizing:

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Vortrag bei der Ars Electronica 2020: “Neue digitale Öffentlichkeit für neue Formen solidarischer Verantwortlichkeit”

Im Rahmen des diesjährigen Ars Electronica Festivals in Linz war ich auf Einladung von Walter Ötsch Teil eines eintägigen Symposiums zum Thema “COVID-19 Crisis: Wie könnte/kann sich die Gesellschaft ändern?”. In drei Sessions durfte ich dabei neben Ötsch selbst noch mit der Philosophin Antonia Birnbaum, der German-Zero-Aktivistin Evelyn Bodenmeier und dem Soziologen Sighard Neckel unter Moderation von Ö1-Journalistin Renata Schmidtkunz diskutieren. Mein Vortrag widmete sich dem Thema “Neue digitale Öffentlichkeit für neue Formen solidarischer Verantwortlichkeit”, die Slides finden sich wie üblich bei Slideshare:

Den Livestream des ganzen Tages gibt es auf YouTube, sollten Videos der einzelnen Sessions verfügbar gemacht werden, werde ich diese hier zeitnah ergänzen.

Approaching the Power of Algorithmic Decision-Making

This essay is provided by Ajla Nesimovic, former student in the master program Organization Studies at University of Innsbruck, and based on her master thesis.

“This master thesis is a story,” are the first words of my thesis. If you are now frowning and thinking what the heck I am talking about, then you are definitely not alone. Once an inspiring person taught me that managing expectations could be helpful as it might give a sense of motivation and direction. Now that I have told you that my master thesis is a story you are probably expecting a lot of fairy tale and little scientific appropriateness. You are not that far off! I definitely write a lot about ambiguities and contradictions of theorists. In later sections, I critically reflect on my very own work and further identify it as an invention with a lot of ambiguities and contradictions too. Nevertheless, my supervisor wanted me to write a blogpost about my master thesis. I suppose, it’s because of the jokes.

The story is multilayered as it consists of various story lines which are differing from each other but are still overlapping and coexisting. My master thesis, therefore, can be read in many different ways: as a love letter to the study program Organization Studies; as an imaginary and intellectual debate between my AI professor and myself; as a story about myself; or as a story about algorithms. I am not offering these different opportunities to potential readers by accident, since this thesis was guided by an interpretation of Deleuze’s and Guattari’s process philosophy (1994).

Continue reading “Approaching the Power of Algorithmic Decision-Making”