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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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).

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New Article: “Resourcing under tensions: How frontline employees create resources to balance paradoxical tensions”

Anna Schneider, Julia Brandl (both colleagues at the Department of Organization and Learning, IOL), and IOL alumni Bernadette Bullinger have recently published a paper on “Resourcing under tensions: How frontline employees create resources to balance paradoxical tensions” in Organization Studies. The abstract reads as follows:

Managing resources and tensions at the frontline is crucial for organizational success. To advance our understanding of how frontline employees turn assets into useful resources under tensions, we draw on research on resourcing and practices of responding to paradoxical tensions. Our ethnographic study of employees in a multinational retail–fashion company finds three resourcing practices – situational reframing, organizational preframing and institutional deframing – that enable frontline employees to balance tensions. We contribute to both the resourcing perspective and to research on individuals’ responses to paradoxical tensions, first, by identifying the varying scopes of meaning (situational, organizational or institutional) that employees infuse potential resources with; second, by extending the notion of framing to understand how resourcing is accomplished interactively in tension-laden situations; and third, by explaining how employees’ construction of tensions is related to their dynamic moves between resourcing practices.

Check out the full article via the journal webpage. In case you or your institution don’t have access please write us or the authors to receive a copy.

Selling products or life stories? The storytelling of “hero” entrepreneurs

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

“The worlds most powerful person is the greatest storyteller” – Steve Jobs (1995)

Nowadays, the Silicon Valley is brimming with firms whose CEOs and founders apparently are role models for today’s generation of young entrepreneurs. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page and alike are regarded as geniuses in their areas of expertise. To the wider audience they are especially known for their entrepreneurial success story. How often did we hear the story about Bill Gates and how he made up his way from working in his garage to become the CEO of one of the world’s most famous companies? Or Mark Zuckerberg – do we start thinking about Facebook or do we maybe first think about the lucky college dropout?  

A relatively coherent group of people that share a similar background and hold certain attributes in common can – theoretically – be defined as a social category. In my master thesis, I investigated how the category of today’s “hero” entrepreneurs has been formed. Specifically, I analyzed how the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs “tell their story” which, I argue, influences how the social category of the hero entrepreneur is shaped and understood.

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Call for Proposals to SMS Special Conference on “Open, Crowd and Participatory Strategy: Strategy, Technology & Power”

At next year’s special conference of Strategic Management Society (SMS) on “Designing the Future: Strategy, Technology and Society in the 4th Industrial Revolution”, March 27-27, 2020 in Berkeley, Julia Hautz from the neighbouring Department on Strategic Management is co-organizing Track on “Open, Crowd and Participatory Strategy: Strategy, Technology & Power”:

Strategy processes are becoming more open by increasing transparency and inclusion. This openness is even more relevant when managers engage with grand societal challenges and complex, emergent technologies characterized by radical uncertainty. Inclusive strategizing makes more strategic information available and enables more internal and external stakeholders to engage in strategic conversations. Under which conditions is it beneficial for companies to open their strategy process, and when should they opt for more secrecy? What are the intended and unintended consequences of openness along the strategy process? What are potential “side effects?” What is the right balance of “openness” and “closure” in the strategy process? What are the barriers for more openness, and how can they be overcome? Additionally, it is intriguing to investigate how new technologies alter the very process of strategy and, consequently, impact social and organizational structures, power distribution and roles of an organization. This track welcomes all research proposals related to these themes across a variety of methodological and theoretical perspectives.

Deadline for the submission of proposals is October 3, 2019. Please check out the full call for proposals as a PDF.

Looking back on the 10th Sociology of Conventions Workshop in Innsbruck

Guillemette de Larquier, Kenneth Horvath, Lisa Knoll, Rainer Diaz-Bone, Julia Brandl

From April 26-27, 2019, the 10th Sociology of Conventions Workshop with the topic “Conventions@Work” took place at University of Innsbruck. Together with Bianca Schoenherr, Katharina Zangerle provides a summary of key discussion points of the workshop over at the blog “Économie des conventions“:

Variety in regard to disciplines (e.g., Sociologist, Economists, Historians), origin (e.g., France, Switzerland, Germany, France and Austria), empirical interests (e.g., from migration, health, the digital, social policy, science, farming, to intellectual property regulations and information security…), but connected through the common theoretical perspective, characterized the audience composed of about 35 scientists. Besides, it was the workshops format, which allowed the presenters adequate time (45 minutes) to make clear their arguments and respond to the assigned discussants’ and audiences’ responses of different sorts, that triggered the discussion. The following overview serves to communicate current developments in the community, but makes no account to be complete.

Read the full blog post here.

 

 

Call for Applicants: Three Doctoral Fellows in Management Accounting

Silvia Jordan and Albrecht Becker, both professors in the area of Management Accounting and thus part of the Department of Organization and Learning at the University of Innsbruck, are hiring three doctoral fellows by October 2010 (PDF of the call for applications in German and English):

Positions 1 and 2: Research assistants in the Austrian Science Fund (FWF)-funded research project „Healthcare quality assessment in Austria: Discourses and performances“
  • Assistance and co-operation in the research project „Healthcare quality assessment in Austria: Discourses and performances“
  • 3-year contract, 75% (30 hours per week)
Position 3: Research and teaching assistant in the management accounting group
  • Assistance and co-operation in research and teaching in the management accounting group
  • 3-year contract, 75% (30 hours per week)
What you can expect

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Learning from Disasters: A ‘Framing’ Perspective

Was the launch of Siri a “disaster”? Depends on how you frame it. (Foto, CC BY-SA 2.0

This research essay is authored by Melissa Köhler, student in the master program Organization Studies at University of Innsbruck.

‘We do not learn from experiences… we learn from reflecting on experiences.’ (John Dewey)

Unexpected and unusual incidents in organizational life often result in a change from stable conditions into situations that are ‘far from equilibrium’ (Rudolph and Repenning, 2002). Even if undesirable incidents entail an organizational breakdown and misery, organizations can try to make sense of the circumstances. They have the possibility to reflect and learn in order to prevent such occasions, or to improve their response the next time. To understand how organizations learn from disasters, current scientific literature mainly analyzes very popular incidents such as the Mount Everest climbing accident in 1996 or natural catastrophes. In order to gain substantial insights on how organizations learn from disastrous situations, this focus on extreme incidents seems quite narrow-minded. Who defines whether a specific event is a disaster or not? A ‘Framing’ perspective could help to induce a better understanding on how organizations learn from such situations.

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