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Today, concerns about academics’ contribution to the future of our planet are growing. While climate scientists have long recognized that their scholarly lifestyle is part of the  problem and have developed various kinds of solutions, management scholars are just beginning to more extensively reflect not just about their research agendas, but about their own behaviour as scholars. Management scholars’ environmental impact is not the only issue at stake. Rather, there are problems with a loss of meaningfulness in research work driven forward by rankings, not content, and with a rise of scientific misconduct. Arguably, these issues are related to the ways in which the scholarly community is organized.

The research network “Grand Challenges and New Forms of Organizing”, funded by the German Research Foundation, has taken it as its mission to unpack the reciprocal relationship between societal grand challenges and new forms of organizing. In the spirit of this research agenda, the network has also started to reflect about the challenge of making scholarship itself more sustainable again. During one of its workshops held in March 2019, the network formed working groups around four areas of sustainable scholarship that can be seen as highly interrelated and complementary, thus creating difficulties for change:

  1. How can we reduce our flying in the light of demands placed on visibility in international research communities?
  2. How can we make academic careers more sustainable and meaningful?
  3. Is the strong focus on theoretical novelty by our leading journals itself an unsustainable practice?
  4. What are alternatives to supporting the unsustainable business model of proprietary publishing?

Environmental impact of scholars

The first topic probably needs little explanation in terms of the grand challenge at hand: flying habits as a major contributor to carbon emissions and thus the climate crisis. Science is a collective endeavour and face-to-face exchanges with peers and colleagues are important for us to learn, share ideas, develop new research projects and form social ties. The academic conference cycle helps to structure the otherwise largely unstructured research work by providing fixed deadlines. Yet, the mobility requirements placed on scholars by a hyperactive academic system that is highly “projectified” and values international connectivity, frequent exchanges and visibility arguably stand in no relationship to intellectual development. As it stands, the affordances provided by digital technology are underutilized. Of course, no one is suggesting that we should stop meeting and interacting, but rather that we should think about the modes of travel we use and the quantity of events we fly to each year. Various initiatives already exist that raise these questions. The “Flying Less” initiative founded in 2015, for instance, demands that universities work towards reducing flying by staff and students. This, of course, stands in direct contrast to targets set by governments around the world – and supported by accreditation organizations – that universities increase the international exchange of their staff and students. The group also pledges that we, as academics, “work with university-based members to meet key professional objectives in ways that do not require flying and that are sustainable”.

The workshop group has discussed some concrete measures that could be taken in this regard. These should be read more as a brainstormed collection of ideas and not as fully thought out policy proposals, since each immediately raises follow-up questions and could easily be criticized as a kind of “sustainability police”, a problem that we also discussed. As research has shown, concerns about grand social challenges are often tied to radical changes in behaviour, so that those raising these issues are quickly labelled as spoilsports, whereas the majority prefers to live in a state of denial. Radical changes in behaviour definitely means spoiling the existing game a bit and are by no means easy, but, as will be outlined below, there are also new joys to be gained, such as a more meaningful work life and, ultimately, a planet our children can still live on.

Universities could make it their standard policy to offset carbon emissions for flights and provide financing for it. The CBS has a sustainable event guide and a sustainable campus policy, which help to institutionalize sustainability concerns among faculty, administrators and students. Universities could also provide additional incentives for scholars to take the train, such as allowing first class travel, or disincentives, such as “flagging” the number of flights of each scholar in the internal reporting systems. Those universities that operate with their own travel agency could have a policy to always check train options first before thinking about the plane – the CBS, for instance, already has such a policy in place. If scholars want to take the plane even though there is a train available, they could be asked to justify it, and norms could be exerted that a certain number of hours on the train is acceptable (at CBS, the norm is eight hours). Universities could also systematically measure how many carbon emissions they are producing through scholars flying to conferences and set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by a certain percentage. A study by the University of British Columbia has done exactly that, and it turned out that “business-related air travel emissions at UBC total 26,333 to 31,685 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission each year, equivalent to 63 to 73 per cent of the total annual emissions from the operation of the Vancouver UBC campus”. If reducing such emissions does not work on a voluntary basis, universities could restrict the number of flights per person per year – a suggestion already made by an ETH scholar. Universities could also invest more in virtual meeting room technologies and ease access to them, as well as urge governments and accreditation agencies to consider carbon emissions in the targets they put out.

Scholars can start raising awareness among colleagues to not automatically take the plane, but also think about the train or alternative modes of travel. Giuseppe Delemestri is leading by example here and, together with Helen Etchanchu, has begun to rally collective support among organization scholars in their recent pledge to attend the EGOS conference by train. Following the Scientists for Future initiative, the joint train ride of the people supporting the pledge has led to the Organization Studies for Future website. Even though alternative modes of transport often require more time than flying, which might stand in conflict with family and other professional obligations, the colleagues behind the EGOS by train initiative show that this time can be used very productively for work. And whereas life as academics on an aeroplane might negatively impact on the kind of knowledge that is produced, the time gained through slow travel may actually enhance and enlighten thinking, help in being more constructive, and engage in more meaningful work. Scholars at the Freie Universität Berlin have recently published a pledge to “voluntarily forego short-haul flights up to 1.000 km if the route can be covered by train in 12 hours”.

Professional associations could also start to delegitimize air travel, e.g. by asking each registering conference participant about their intended mode of travel and actively suggesting train options. Conference organizers could also more actively think about alternative modes of participation, though this is a very contentious issue since it requires rethinking the financing models of conferences and in setting up suitable technology revenue. Again, people suggesting virtual modes of interaction are quickly perceived as wanting to spoil the fun of personal meet-ups. Yet, as outlined in this recent Conversation article, the fun need not be spoiled. For instance, multiple site conference formats exist that include both physical interaction in regional hub sites (e.g. one on each continent) and virtual connections. Alternatives are physically held, but no-fly conferences that include distant participants virtually. Either way, a combination of more localized meet-ups combined with virtual interactions – which might even be an asset for knowledge development – and arranging for longer and more fruitful stays if transatlantic flights are made, resulting in them having to be taken less frequently, might be a promising path forward. These changes will likely also contribute to academics’ career sustainability (see below). Smaller but by no means less important steps are to reduce plastics and meat consumption at conferences, given lifestock’s production terrible climat impact.

Career sustainability and meaningfulness

The concept of career sustainability refers to the idea that a sustainable career enjoys not only longevity, but also a meaningful sense of development, conservation and renewal of career-related resources (Van der Heijden & De Vos 2015). As recently argued by Elango Elangovan and Andy Hoffman, the sustainability of academic careers may be threatened by a sense of meaninglessness resulting from a one-dimensional focus on A-journal publications. Along with an increased focus on quantified performance measures and a growing sense of careering in the neoliberal business school, unethical research practices seem to have become the norm rather than the exception. Building on the inspiring article by Elangovan and Hoffman, the network’s debate revolved mainly around the question of what we as researchers can do to enhance a sense of meaningfulness in their academic life. A central question was what academics can give back to their fields of research, especially in the context of researching grand challenges. Many have reported feeling a strong sense of despair resulting from the focus on quantifiable outputs, often in top journals, and the lack of attention paid to the content of the research and the values and emotions of the scholars engaging in this research. One suggestion was to shift the focus of academic conversations much more to the empirical contexts at hand and the emotions involved in doing the research which, as scholars like Gail Whiteman have already outlined, are often strong. Furthermore, thinking about open access forms of publication might provide a stronger sense of giving something back to the public than publishing in proprietary journals – although this strategy is currently not without problems (see below).

The group also discussed that many academics feel emotionally worn out by constantly hearing about the publication successes and productivity of peers and colleagues through social media self-marketing. Most academics are culpable of engaging in this practice, not least because they understandably seek attention for months of hard research work. One solution would be to publicly share news about failures as well – rejections, unpursued research topics, failed motions, lectures that did not go well. Research has shown that the practice of painting perfect selves on social media can lead to depression and feelings of inadequacy.  The readily available publication and citation counts might have the same effect on scholars. As a solution, every academic could be much more careful in painting realistic, not imaginary perfect public pictures of themselves. Everyone can contribute to shift conversations towards content, not performance. PhD program directors could develop more balanced targets and requirements that go beyond a pure focus on A-level publications. Of course, these targets are developed based on university targets, which are developed in the light of targets set by governments and accreditation agencies, which is where we can begin to see the systemic nature of the problem at hand.

The scholary community might even impose an emissions cap on publications. If each faculty member would only be allowed to publish one article a year, guesses are that this article will be rather meaningful and well-received, because others would actually have the time to read rather than cursorily scan and ritualistically cite it. Some funding bodies such as the German Science Foundation or the Austrian FWF have picked up on the problem of academic over-production by allowing applicants to submit only a list of their five or ten most significant publications. And as with climate change, professional associations can be a strong force in questioning current practices. Organization scholars like Alfred Kieser and Margit Osterloh, for instance, have been a strong voice in the context of the German Business Scholar Association in delegitimizing the excessive use of rankings both publicly (such as the Handelsblatt ranking)  and in committees.

The theoretical novelty imperative

The third discussion tried to unpack the possible tension between a strong focus on theoretical novelty by leading journals and pressing empirical challenges. While a strong case has already been made for “rigor, not rigor mortis” in the context of grand challenges research, the credo of theoretical novelty which is repeatedly stressed in editorials is rarely questioned. This credo can be seen as part of a larger societal development in which, throughout the 20th century, the ideal of creativity, individualism and novelty has become the norm in all societal spheres (Reckwitz, 2012). But do grand societal challenges not require scholarship to focus on using the theoretical toolkit at hand – theories of institutionalization, collective action or path dependence, for instance – to explain complex empirical problems and offer insights into how change could be triggered and enacted? The solutions discussed by the group largely revolved around the role of journal editors as agenda-setters and evaluators of what counts as a “theoretical contribution”. One specific idea was to redefine the notion of phenomenon-driven research so that it suits the theoretical standards of leading journals, yet allows for greater room for empirical problem-solving. Of course, some solutions are already in place, such as the foundation of the Academy of Management Discoveries Journal with a stronger focus on pressing empirical situations. Yet, more can be done to put the useful theories we as organization and management scholars have about lock-in and change dynamics on multiple levels into the service of analysing and solving empirical problems at hand.

Open access and open science

A final topic the group discussed revolved around the benefits of open science and the unsustainable business models of proprietary publishers that extract tax money at multiple stages of the publication process (reviewers that work in their free time/on their university payrolls, the research that is being paid for by tax money, fees for making content open access, selling licences to university libraries) while adding little to the research process themselves. While the benefits of open access to knowledge, particularly regarding grand challenges, have often been discussed, the major management journals are not open access. Articles can be made open access through the payment of a fee, but not every scholar has the necessary funds to cover these costs. Pressures for change are currently exerted by scientists as well as by librarians that cancelled their contracts with Elsevier. Network member @leonidobusch has already blogged widely about these initiatives here and elsewhere. Furthermore, several European funding bodies have formed the cOAlition S initiative, requiring that “scientific publications that result from research funded by public grants must be published in compliant Open Access journals or platforms”. However, as Jerry Davis emphasized during the recent EGOS subplenary on “Grand Challenges: Populism, Post-Truth and False Futures”, current open access journals such as PloS One have been associated with fake science. Thus, a main challenge that remains is finding ways of governing and editing open access journals, and making them comparable to other, proprietary journals that are currently the basis for career and tenure decisions e.g. by including them in rankings.

Epilogue

While none of these four issues might directly count as a societal grand challenge in itself, each is arguably a smaller-scale representation and enactment of larger societal problems. Furthermore, as with other grand challenges, the issues are highly interconnected and thus difficult to change. For example, proprietary publishing business models have played a part in an excessive use of quantitative measures, which has contributed to intensified pressures for visibility and related mobility and a decreased sense of meaningfulness. Many academics feel trapped into a market logic that incentivises publication quantity, visibility and citation counts at all costs. This certainly holds for junior scholars that are held in precarious non-tenured or tenure-track positions with hard performance measures, but increasingly also for tenured scholars who are micromanaged by target agreements. Many of the measures outlined above are small steps rather than major systemic changes. Clearly, individuals cannot be expected to solve our society’s – and our discipline’s – grand challenges. Yet, individuals can act as role models and therefore inspire debate and collective action. So, for now, the research network’s suggestions are as follows:

  • Let’s find leaders within our communities that act as role models for each of the above issues and let’s find areas in which we ourselves can take on such a role. It does not have to be in all areas simultaneously. Each step counts. Displaying changed behaviour helps to inspire others.
  • Let’s not shy away from asking uncomfortable questions and discussing uncomfortable solutions; from intervening and challenging our peers and colleagues; or from consulting and empathizing with them if needed.
  • Let’s appeal to core representatives and gate keepers of our academic community such as journal editors or PhD program organizers. Let’s approach our professional organizations, university administrations, funding bodies and accreditation agencies asking them to take the above issues into account in devising policies and normative statements. Change in public policies is most likely to occur if it is demanded bottom-up.
  • In short, let’s draw on our own toolkit as social scientists, which should equip us well for actively addressing, rather than shying away, from grand challenges. Particularly, in the spirit of our research network, let’s look at new forms of organizing critically – as drivers of new problems and as potential solutions – for the challenges faced by our own field.

March 12-15, 2019, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Creativity is one of the key concepts, yet among the most slippery ones of present-day Western societies. Today, the call for creativity spans far beyond typically “creative” fields and industries towards becoming a universal social norm. Creative processes, however, are fundamentally surrounded by uncertainty. It is difficult to know ex-ante what will become a creative idea and, due to its destructive force, it is also highly contested. This inherent uncertainty associated with creativity thus spills over to other social spheres, too.
The DFG-funded Research Unit “Organized Creativity” is studying creative processes in music and pharmaceuticals – as representatives for creativity in the arts and in the sciences. The goal of the unit is to understand in greater depth those practices of inducing and coping with uncertainty which are employed by various actors involved in creative processes.

Target Group
The Spring School provides space for exchange between advanced doctoral students, early postdocs and several senior scholars that do research on creativity either in the context of innovation research or in the fields of business and management studies, economic geography, psychology or sociology. Combining lectures from renowned scholars (Prof. Dr. Dr. Karin Knorr Cetina, Prof. David Stark, Ph.D., Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Prof. Dr. Elke Schüßler, Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow) with the presentation, discussion and development of individual papers, this call invites advanced doctoral students and early postdocs from all disciplines concerned with creativity and uncertainty to join our discussion in Berlin. The working language will be English. Read the rest of this entry »

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On the 24th of April 2018, many people around the world commemorated the over 1000 lives lost and the 1800 people injured during the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Global Garment Supply Chain Governance Project, together with King’s College London, took this date as an opportunity to bring together the community of international scholars investigating the consequences of this disaster for the governance of labor standards in the global garment industry. Given the high and immediate policy relevance of this topic, the conference was not just purely academic: several representatives from lead firms, supplier factories, policy makers and civil society actively participated in debating and interpreting the research results, and also constituted the strong opening panel. So what are the news for global governance?

A focal point of the debate was the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a five-year multi-stakeholder, transnational collective agreement co-signed by over 200 brands and the UNI and IndustriaALL global unions that not only commits brands to pay into a centrally organized safety inspection regime and to ensure continuity of orders for a limited period, but also demands the introduction of worker participation into safety committees in garment factories and provides for legally binding arbitration mechanisms if complaints are unresolved. While Mark Anner, Jennifer Bair and Jeremy Blasi argue that the Accord is not unprecedented, pointing to the “jobbers agreements” drafted between workers, contractors, and lead firms in the US apparel supply chain to ensure fair prices and stable orders in the earlier 20th century, most would agree that the Accord’s governance model is unique in a global supply chain context. Thus, it is often hailed as a solution to the industry’s ongoing and pressing problems regarding labour standards. The Accord departs most from previous initiatives in that it is a collective approach for addressing the “race to the bottom” dynamic of competing on the lowest possible labour standards characterizing the garmen industry since decade – an issue which lead firms only now begin to see as a collective action problem. In analyzing the history of the Accord, Juliane Reinecke and Jimmy Donaghey  point out, however, that the Accord was not crafted as a reaction to the Rana Plaza disaster. In fact, it existed previously as a memorandum of understanding on building and worker safety by two lead firms following earlier factory accidents – but other lead firms were not interested in signing it before the fatal factory collapse occurred. Does the Accord stand up to these hopes?

As argued by Miriam Neele, on the panel as Head of Signatory Engagement of the Accord, the Accord program has now covered approximately over 2 million workers in the Bangladesh garment industry and has ensured the remediation of about 85% of the factories covered by the Accord. Data on over 1000 garment workers collected by Naila Kabeer, London School of Economics, likewise indicates that there has been positive change on those issues that Western lead firms can influence, such as building safety and working time, at least in those factories covered by the Accord and by the US-driven Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Both Frank Hoffer (on the panel as representative of the new Action Collaboration Transformation initiative) and Giesela Burckhardt from the German NGO Femnet, however, stress that wages still need to go up – an issue that is simply not covered by the Accord. Additionally, there is some scepticism as to the actual scalability of the Accord model to other issues and other countries. The renewal of the Accord in Bangladesh has resulted in a rather slow process of getting brands to sign up to the agreement again, and the initiative has faced intense critique from various Bangladeshi stakeholders who think that the Accord has lost its purpose in Bangladesh. In a study conducted by Steve Frenkel (UNSW) and Chris Wright (University of Sydney) and myself shortly after the Rana Plaza disaster we found that intense stakeholder pressure was a main driver behind firms’ willingness to sign the Accord. In the absence of such immediate pressure, it seems that the majority of firms is only reluctantly willing to engage in stricter forms of labour standards regulation, such as those embraced by the Accord.

At least four additional problems must be noted. First, as argued by Kabeer, certain worker-related issues cannot be influenced by Western brands. Most importantly, these are the (mis-)behaviour of supervisors and the still very low level of unionization and worker representation in Bangladesh. Here local stakeholders are called upon to bring forward changes. Second, as repeatedly noted by Dorothee Baumann-Pauly and her colleagues from the NYU Stern school of business, the current safety schemes has at best created “islands of compliance” in which some of the best, most well-financed factories are getting better, while the smaller, already struggling factories remain off the radar – and have notoriously poor standards. Third, the Accord remains an auditing tool – and audits can easily turn into mere reputational devices for lead firms rather than creating actual accountability and liability for brands and their auditors, as Carolijn Terwind, lawyer at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), highlighted on our panel. Fourth, evidence from a survey on 150 factory managers in Bangladesh conduced by Shahidur Rahman (BRAC University) and Kazi Mahmudur Rahman (ULAB) suggests that lead firms rarely support factory’s remediation efforts financially. Thus, while suppliers value continuity of orders, they feel heavily squeezed between ongoing price pressure exerted by lead firms and increased demands regarding infrastructure and working conditions.

An important structural condition must be noted though, which in my view is a core boundary condition for seeing continued improvements in labour standards in Bangladeshi garment factories: unless digitalization is able to replace manual labour in this industry, large volumes of garment production will remain in Bangladesh because, as China continues to reduce its capacities, no other country is to date able to absorb the high demand for garment production. In this sense, the race to the bottom is currently on hold – an unforeseen opportunity for stakeholders in the West as well as in Bangladesh to continue pressing for stricter regulations and better labour standards in this industry.

The German Science Foundation is funding a new research unit based at Freie Universität Berlin with the topic “Organized Creativity: Practices for Inducing and Coping with Uncertainty“.

The research unit examines the challenging question of how creativity can be socially organized. It comprises four projects, each of which examines different dimensions of uncertainty in a specific area of organizing practices: collaborative practices, temporal practices, and regulatory practices.

Doctoral positions (and one postdoc) are open at the different partner universities of the research unit, which is comprised of the following scholars:

Prof. Dr. Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität Berlin (spokesperson)
Prof. Jana Costas, Ph.D., Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder
Prof. Dr. Leonhard Dobusch, Universität Innsbruck
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher, Hafen City University, Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert, Freie Universität Berlin and IRS Erkner
Prof. Gregory Jackson, Ph.D., Freie Universtität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Sigrid Quack, Universität Duisburg-Essen
Prof. Dr. Elke Schüßler, Freie Universität Berlin and (from 1.5.16) Johannes Kepler Universität Linz

Please access the individual job offers here (in German only) and check out the general project website for further information.

 

Yesterday night, the representatives of 196 nations reached what The Guardian called “the world’s greatest diplomatic success” at the 21st UN climate conference, COP21, in Paris. After the dramatic failure of COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 to reach an agreement for committing the nations of the world to cut carbon emissions, Paris was hailed as the “our best chance to safe the planet“.

I observed the intense build-up towards the Paris COP with much apprehension because, based on a historical analysis of the COPs leading up to the Copenhagen event, my coauthors and I detected the staging of a COP as a “high-stakes” event as potentially problematic for reaching a successful outcome. In our paper, we argued that in the light of extremely high fragmentation in the field developing prior to Copenhagen, the staging of COP15 as a high-stakes event backfired, exacerbating feelings of distrust and unbridgeable disagreement among the negotiating parties. We identified agenda-setting, the possibilities for informal interaction and negotiation leadership as crucial factors influencing the success of negotiations. We also argued that an intense and frustrating pre-COP meeting cycle could decrease the negotiators’ motivation.

The Paris COP allows us now to reflect on our argument and “test” whether our findings can be used to explain its outcome. Somewhat in contrast to our argument, COP21 was also preceded by intense years of negotiations, often on a daily basis. Yet, while the negotiations prior to Copenhagen revolved around the highly contested technical details of the Kyoto Protocol’s policy instruments, they were marked by diplomatic achievements such as the climate accord struck between the USA and China prior to Paris.

In line with our findings, the way the Paris COP was “enacted”, particularly by the negotiation leaders, was a key to its success. For instance, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his colleague Laurence Tubiana – maybe paradoxically – formally installed informal meetings to enable consensus-building in small groups and prevent fragmentation. When the deal threatened to fail, the French negotiation leaders formed working groups and asked dissenting parties to chair these groups, thus forcing them into a proactive leadership role. Additionally, the staging of COP21 decidedly differed from previous COPs: usually the heads of states come in at the end of the negotiations, but were asked to open the meeting in Paris, thus setting a clear mandate for their negotiators to reach a consensus.

Following David Victor, we questioned in our paper whether the UNFCCC’s principles of inclusiveness and consensus can be upheld or are in the way of a climate deal. In the light of clever negotiation leadership and intense preceding diplomatic efforts outlined above, COP21 has shown that the inclusion of small countries can actually be an important force for change and ambition, as the UNFCCC has envisioned. Indeed, it was the small island states and least developed countries that formed a “high ambition coalition” leading to a 1.5-degree temperature target in the new agreement, which is more ambitious than the previous 2 degree target, but necessary to ensure the survival of countries in low-lying coastal areas.

At least for a short moment, today I feel hopeful for the world my daughters will live in in the future thanks to “the miracle of Paris”. Of course, it remains to be seen what the ratification process will look like in the next year – the history of the Kyoto Protocol tells us that what is hailed as a miracle today may eventually turn out to be a devil in disguise in the future.

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of a new English-language textbook on the management of inter-organizational relations written and edited by Jörg Sydow, Gordon Müller-Seitz and myself and published by Palgrave. While several textbooks on specific topics such as strategic alliancesoutsourcing and offshoring or social networks are already out there, there was to date no comprehensive textbook dealing with different forms of inter-organizational relations from a management perspective that could be used in English-language courses on managing alliances and networks.Palgrave Bild

Several academically-oriented books such as the Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations or the book Managing Dynamic Networks are useful to complement teaching, but are – in our experience – too theoretical to structure an entire course. Conversely, practitioner-oriented texts like the Manager’s Guide to Choosing and Using Collaborative Networks can only complement, but not fill an entire university course. A case collection on alliance management has been edited by the Ivey School of Business, but this collection does not include textbook chapters.

Our new book aims to include both an introduction to several forms of inter-organizational relations and the underlying academic debates as well as a collection of case studies highlighting particular managerial issues. In an effort to promote research-led teaching, all cases were developed on the basis of research projects conducted by members of the Research Group Inter-firm Networks and the Group’s international network. The book is structured in six parts, four of which comprise the main forms of inter-organizational relations that are distinguished: strategic alliances and networks, regional networks and clusters, global production and supply networks, and innovation and project networks. Especially the chapter on global production and supply networks includes a debate about transnational governance issues and discusses, for instance, the challenges associated with transnationalizing professional services or issues of accountability and liability in global production networks.

Five case studies are available for each of these network types, each focusing on particular management challenges. For strategic alliances and networks, for instance, Jörg Sydow together with Horst Findeisen, Vice President at the Star Alliance Services GmbH, wrote a case on the institutionalization of new management structures in the Star Alliance. For regional networks and clusters, Chacko Kannothra and Stephan Manning from the University of Massachusetts in Boston developed a case on the new impact sourcing trend and its implications for regional development in India. For global production and supply networks, Miriam Wilhelm from the University of Groningen presents details from her in-depth research on Toyota’s practices for managing cooperation and competition. In the chapter on innovation and project networks, Leonhard Dobusch wrote about the development of the international network organization behind Wikimedia.

Overall, this book tackles not only a border-crossing issue – management practices and challenges arising outside of hierarchical organizational boundaries – but also aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice in a new textbook format geared towards advanced bachelor, master and MBA students. The book is complemented by a companion website where teaching notes, a glossary and further informative links for each case are provided.

This post is provided by our regular guest blogger Elke Schüßler. Elke Schüßler is Assistant Professor of Organization Theory at the Management Departement at Freie Universität Berlin.

Daniel Henninger (Foto: Dow Jones Events, CC-BY-ND)

Daniel Henninger (Foto: DJEvents, CC-BY-ND)

Yesterday, the article „Why Can’t the Left Govern?“ written by Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and a former Pulitzer Price finalist, made it to the Wall Street Journal’s most popular article within a few hours. At the time of writing this post, the article received over 1000 comments.

I would not have stumbled across this piece of journalism had it not been based on a study by Charles-Clemens Rüling, Bettina Wittneben and myself recently published in the Academy of Management Journal on the problems of UN climate conferences in advancing transnational climate change policy. In an adventurous logical jump, Henninger links our analysis of the field maintenance mechanisms that have eaten their way into the transnational climate policy process to a worldwide crisis of the Left generally and US president Obama’s reform of the US healthcare system through what is known as „Obamacare“ specifically.

While indeed the reform of the US healthcare system has been a daunting struggle for almost a century and, as such, may exhibit some parallels to the task of mitigating climate change, there are several reasons for considering this jump as adventurous.

Read the rest of this entry »

This post is provided by our “guest blogger” Elke Schüßler. Elke Schüßler is postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Management at Freie Universität Berlin.

The 17th climate summit in Durban has just concluded and the target of developing binding decisions for greenhouse gas emission caps post-2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol – the “only game in town”, as it is often called inside the climate policy community – will end, has moved further afar. The main outcome of a uniquely long and strenuous negotiation process in this South African city was to postpone the development of such a treaty to 2015.

In a previous blog entry, Leonhard Dobusch and I have analyzed the role of music industry conferences as so-called “field configuring events” and the role they play in the contestation and possibly innovation of copyright regulation. Together with Bettina Wittneben (WiSE Institute) and Charles-Clemens Rüling (Grenoble Ecole de Management), I am conducting a similar analysis of the role of climate summits in the field of international climate change policy.

This field was established by the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and has since been marked by a series of international policy conferences carrying forward the United Nation’s climate change negotiation process: the annual ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP) together with a series of mid-year ‘Meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies’ (SB) held in the context of the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Recent research has underlined the role of international conferences as “catalysts of change, especially as organizations and governments struggle to develop global solutions to complex problems” (Hardy & Maguire, 2010: 1358). Read the rest of this entry »

This post is provided by our “guest blogger” Elke Schüßler. Elke Schüßler is postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Management at Freie Universität Berlin.

As part of a larger research program on so-called field configuring events (FCEs) in the German music industry, Leonhard Dobusch and I took a closer look at the question of how the issue of copyright is represented at – and in turn framed by – music festivals, fairs, and conferences where the issue of copyright (or, more generally, the question of the future of the music industry in its multiple forms) is discussed by a diversity of field actors (see working paper). The concept of FCEs comes from organization theory (see Garud 2008 for a scholarly example) and refers to events as temporally and spatially bounded arenas for networking, sensemaking, and debate with a potentially larger impact. We consider such FCEs as a discursive focusing lens hosting different “discourse coalitions” and their respective “story lines” (see Hajer 1993) and argue that the way the event landscape evolves can be taken as a representation of how the field evolves with respect to certain issues.

Empirically, we first analyzed at the evolution of the event landscape in the pre- and post-Napster period (1995-2001 and 2001-2009, respectively). We identified 27 events in the German music industry that fulfilled our selection criteria and that we classified as conservationist, reformist, radicalist, or neutral with respect to copyright. We observe a steady rise in the number of events, from only 3 in the year 1997 to 20 in the year 2009 (see Figure 1).  There is now a larger number of radicalist and reformist than conservationist events and, accordingly, the majority of newly founded events had either a radicalist (5 events) or a reformist (7 events) orientation.

We further conducted a comparative in-depth discourse analysis of three selected events in the year 2009, a critical year for the German music event landscape: the traditional main industry event, the “Popkomm”, sponsored predominantly by the major labels and canceled in 2009 with reference to “illegal downloads”; the all2gethernow (a2n), an impromptu collective act of the independent players in the industry to fill the gap and to counter the claims of the Popkomm; and the c/o pop festival founded in Cologne in 2004 associated with the digital music business. Our aim was to identify compatible and incompatible story lines, associate them with certain actor groups (not) participating at these events, and link them to the related event- and field-level practices. In a comprehensive media analysis we identified 34 different claims with respect to copyright made in the context of these events and, again, classified them as conservationist, reformist, radicalist, or neutral.

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The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
September 2019
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