New Publication: »Organisatorische Komplexität in sozialen Bewegungen: Das Beispiel globaler Dschihadismus«


In a new paper published by Momentum Quarterly, I look at the modalities of organizing in the global jihadist movement. One reason for the resilience of the movement is the combination of different modes of organizing, such as hierarchical organizations and networks. I argue that some of the difficulties in effectively countering global jihadism result from a misconception of the movement as being either a hierarchy or a network. The “rhizome” metaphor of French philosophers Deleuze and Guattari can help us to better grasp the organizational complexity of the phenomenon, and might help us to think about new ways to deal with global jihadism. The abstract reads as follows:

This article illustrates the “rhizome” metaphor of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari with the example of global jihadism. The aim of the article is twofold: first, it shows the potential of the metaphor to contribute to a better understanding of dynamic modalities of organizing. Second, it contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of global jihadism as an empirical phenomenon. By implementing the rhizome metaphor, it becomes apparent that the organization of global jihadism extends beyond an either/or duality of hierarchy and network, but that it is an organizational multiplicity which comprises both hierarchical and network dimensions at the same time. The extent of those dimensions is constantly changing.

The full open access article (in German) can be found here.


Book Review of »Free Speech« by Timothy Garton Ash

Some time ago I was invited to review “Free Speech. Ten principles for a connected world” written by the British historian and writer Timothy Garton Ash. The review has now been published in the journal Organization Studies. The full text is available at the journal’s website. Here is a brief excerpt of my review.

Although the book is almost encyclopaedic, its main aim is not simply to represent the freedom of speech debate and its various positions, but to intervene in the world and to contribute to its transformation. It “invites a conversation about free speech” (p. 142), develops, promotes and defends a liberal position, and proposes principles of how to organize our relations in the “mixed up, connected world as city” (p. 19), that Ash calls “cosmopolis”. In this “crowded world”, he argues, “we must learn to navigate by speech” (p. 4). For students of organization, the book offers many points of entry for reflecting on the current conditions of organizing and its relation to free speech. How do organizations influence, control, and limit what we can say? What are the forms of power that shape and organize what we can say and see in and through the internet? What are the transformative potentials of organizing created by the affordances of the internet? (How) can “free speech” be organized, given that any form of organizing implies closure and exclusions? What are the organizing principles for a self-governing community, in which the principles of “free speech” can be actualized?

The internet has fundamentally transformed life in general and the conditions of communication in particular. It not only offers new possibilities of “free speech”, but also reveals its fundamental ambivalence. “[N]ever in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression as this. And never have the evils of unlimited free expression – death threats, paedophile images, sewage-tides of abuse – flowed so easily across frontiers” (p. 127). Unknown freedoms of expression and unprecedented forms of control and surveillance coexist and create an ambivalent space of experience.

In case you are interested and your institution doesn’t have access to the full-text, I would be happy to send it to you via e-mail.

New Publication: »Closing for the Benefit of Openness« in Organization Studies

My sister, Laura (Radboud University in Nijmegen, NL), our colleague Gordon Müller-Seitz (TU Kaiserlautern), and I have looked at an open strategy-making process of Wikimedia, the non-profit foundation behind the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. In the paper “Closing for the Benefit of Openness?“, which is now open access available at the journal Organization Studies, we find that “simply” opening up preexisting organizational processes tends to reproduce or even reinforce social inequalities already in place. To enable broad participation and to reach out to particularly marginalized groups, openness is depending on certain forms of (procedural) closure. Pleas find the abstract of the paper below:

A growing number of organizations subscribe to ideals of openness in areas such as innovation or strategy-making, supported by digital technologies and fuelled by promises of better outcomes and increased legitimacy. However, by applying a relational lens of inclusion and exclusion, we argue that, paradoxically, certain forms of closure may be necessary to achieve desired open qualities in strategy-making. Analysing the case of Wikimedia, which called for participation in a globally open strategy-making process, we show that openness regarding participation in crafting strategy content depends on certain forms of closure regarding procedures of the strategy-making process. Against this background, we propose a two-dimensional framework of openness, in which content-related and procedural openness are characterized by a combination of open and closed elements.

Thanks to an open access agreement between Dutch universities and the publisher Sage, the fulltext is open availble.

New Publication: »Politics of Disclosure: Organizational Transparency as Multiactor Negotiation«

Creating transparency is oftentimes imagined as something that can easily be turned on or off. Zooming in, transparency is hard work. In a new paper published in Public Administration Review, Leonhard Dobusch and I have traced the multiactor negotiations that led to the creation of an overarching Open Data program in the city administration of Berlin. The abstract reads: Continue reading “New Publication: »Politics of Disclosure: Organizational Transparency as Multiactor Negotiation«”

Neue Studie: »Mögliche Wege zum Schulbuch als Open Educational Resources«

Ausschnitt des Studiencovers von Daniela Gnad, Salzburg Research Forschungsgesellschaft m.b.H., unter Verwendung einer Abwandlung des OER Global Logos von Jonathas Mello (CC-BY 3.0)

Im Rahmen der „Schulbuchaktion“ werden in Österreich seit 1972 Schülerinnen und Schüler unentgeltlich mit Schulbüchern versorgt. Pro Schuljahr werden auf diesem Wege mehr als 100 Millionen Euro für über 8 Millionen Schulbücher verausgabt.

Kein Kriterium für diese substantielle öffentliche Investition sind bislang jedoch offene Lizenzen, die im Zeitverlauf zu einem kontinuierlich wachsenden Bestand an frei zugänglichen Lernunterlagen führen würden. Um die Möglichkeiten für eine Öffnung der Schulbuchaktion für offene Lehr- und Lernunterlagen (Open Educational Resources, OER) näher zu untersuchen, wurde deshalb Salzburg Research vom Bildungsministerium mit der Erstellung einer Machbarkeitsstudie beauftragt. Die von Sandra Schön, Katharina Kreissl, Martin Ebner und mir verfasste Studie ist seit kurzem auch offiziell auf der Webseite des Bildungsministeriums unter Creative-Commons-Lizenz zugänglich (PDF der Studie).

Book Review of »Organizational Wrongdoing« edited by Palmer, Smith-Crowe, and Greenwood

Earlier this year I was asked to serve as an Organization Studies book reviewer for ‘Organizational Wrongdoing’ edited by Donald Palmer, Kristin Smith-Crowe, and Royston Greenwood. My review has now been published in the most recent issue of Organization Studies. The final paragraph summarizes my reading of the volume as follows:

The final chapter of the volume (Chapter 16 by Chugh and Kern) then returns to the individual level in presenting suggestions on how to conceptualize and practice “ethical learning”. The chapter is a truly worthy conclusion, providing concrete suggestions for management practice. At the same time, it is also prototypical for the volume as a whole, focusing on reflection at an individual level instead of more collective and political processes of dealing with organizational wrongdoing. The latter perspective would not only put more emphasis on processes of subjectivation in the course of attributing “wrongdoing” to individuals, but might also arrive at different suggestions for practice such as ideas related to criminal law for corporations. This would reflect the, at least partially, emergent character of organizational wrongdoing. Given the importance of political processes and institutional contexts for organizational wrongdoing highlighted by several of the contributions in this volume, political organizing based on solidarity is probably as important as ethical learning by individuals.

The full text of the book review is available at the journal’s website. As usual, please send me an e-mail in case you are interested but your institution does not provide access to the journal.


Neue Studie: Perspektiven für Open Educational Resources in Nordrhein-Westfalen

Innerhalb der bestehenden Rahmenbedingungen verstärkt die zunehmende Digitalisierung von Lehrmaterial zwei bestehende Probleme an Schulen: Zum einen gefährdet die Verbreitung von minderwertigen oder tendenziösen aber kostenfreien Onlinematerialien das Neutralitätsgebot der schulischen Lehre. Zum anderen bewegen sich LehrerInnen und SchülerInnen im alltäglichen Umgang mit Material mehr und mehr in urheberrechtlichen Graubereichen. In einer kürzlich veröffentlichten Studie (PDF, PDF-Kurzfassung) für das Forschungsinstitut für Gesellschaftliche Weiterentwicklung (FGW) habe ich gemeinsam mit Leonhard Dobusch Vorschläge dazu entwickelt, wie beide Probleme durch eine Öffnung der Lernmittelfinanzierung für Open Educational Resources adressiert werden können.

Continue reading “Neue Studie: Perspektiven für Open Educational Resources in Nordrhein-Westfalen”