Call for Papers for a Special Issue in Organization Studies: »Open Organizing in an Open Society?«

Please find below the Call for Papers for a Special Issue in Organization Studies on “Open Organizing in an Open Society? Conditions, Consequences and Contradictions of Openness as an Organizing Principle” (PDF), co-edited by Georg von Krogh, Violetta Splitter, Peter Walgenbach, Richard Whittington and myself. In case you are interested to submit a paper to the Special Issue, please also consider to submit a short paper version of it to the upcoming EGOS sub-theme 55 onOpen Organizing for an Open Society? Connecting Research on Organizational Openness . Submitting authors are not in any way obliged to participate at this sub-theme, and papers presented at the sub-theme are not guaranteed publication in the Special Issue. We just see this sub-theme as an opportunity to develop papers for submission. Deadline for submitting short papers to the EGOS sub-theme is January 14, 2019, deadline for submitting manuscripts to the Special Issue in Organization Studies is November 30, 2019. Continue reading “Call for Papers for a Special Issue in Organization Studies: »Open Organizing in an Open Society?«”

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.

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.


New Publication: »Whistleblowing, Parrhesia and the Contestation of Truth in the Workplace«


The article by Yvonne Tobias-Miersch and myself on whistleblowing as a critical practice has been accepted for publication in Organization Studies and is now available online. Check out the abstract here:

In this paper, we develop an approach to the study of whistleblowing as a critical practice that is involved in the contestation of truth and power in the workplace. We situate our analysis in the context of practice-based thinking and specify the social practice of whistleblowing with reference to Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘parrhesia’ (frank speech). We then introduce the case of Guido Strack, a former European Union official who worked as section leader at the Office des Publications Officielles des Communautés Européenne from 1995 to 2002. Strack spoke out against malpractice in the EU in 2001 and officially reported alleged financial misconduct in 2002. In our analysis, we focus on the interplay between and effects of different modes of truth-telling in the context of this specific organization – a context marked by the uneasy coexistence of different normative and discursive frames. We argue that the parrhesiastic modality of truth-telling threatens the established ‘working solutions’ that reconcile the tensions inherent in the regime of practices and thus introduces a ‘critical opening’ that harbours the potential for both personal and organizational transformation. We conclude by highlighting the potential of a nuanced understanding of parrhesia for studying ‘critical practices’ more generally.

In case you or your institution does not have access to the publication, I would be happy to provide you a copy of the article via e-mail.

Save-the-Date: 1st OS ConJunction Students and Alumni Day on Nov. 25, 2016

Uibk-logo-miniThe first Organization Studies ConJunction – Students and Alumni Day 2016 will take place on November 25th, 2016 at the SoWi-Campus, University of Innsbruck.

This day is a unique opportunity to connect with current and former fellow students of Universität Innsbruck’s Organization Studies (OS) Master program, to share experiences, to gain new and interesting insights into OS-topics and mainly, to spend a good time together in a relaxed atmosphere.

Inquiries should be sent to Further details on the event will be posted on this blog.