The Agency of Organizing

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Agency is certainly a central concept in all of organization theory. The idea of a communicative constitution of organization (CCO, you know) has here and there given agency some thought, but no coherent treatment of the concept has existed until today.

Boris Brummans has taken on the editorship of the latest Routledge volume on The Agency of Organizing. Here’s the backcover story:

The Agency of Organizing explains why the notion of agency is central to understanding what organizations are, how they come into existence, continue to exist, or fade away, and how they function. Written by leading organizational communication scholars, the chapters in this edited volume present seven different theoretical perspectives on agency in the dynamics of organizing. Authors discuss how they conceptualize agency from their own perspective and how they propose to investigate agency empirically in processes of organizing by using specific methods. Through insightful case studies, they demonstrate the value of these perspectives for organizational research and practice.

Boris brings together a great number of scholars from or at least sympathetic to the CCO perspective. The table of contents almost reads like a who-is-who in organizational communication. Of course, there are notable exceptions, but the volume already has 240 pages.

  • Foreword: Theorizing Agency by Making the Implicit Explicit (Linda L. Putnam)
  • Introduction: Perspectives on the Agency of Organizing (Boris H. J. M. Brummans)
  • The Distribution of Decision Rights at ICANN: A Luhmannian Perspective on Agency (Steffen Blaschke)
  • Being Able to Act Otherwise: The Role of Agency in the Four Flows at 2-1-1 and Beyond (Joel O. Iverson, Robert D. McPhee, and Cade W. Spaulding)
  • Agency in Structurational Divergence and Convergence: Insights from Nursing (Anne M. Nicotera)
  • Targeting Alex: Brand as Agent in Communicative Capitalism (Dennis K. Mumby)
  • Releasing/Translating Agency: A Postcolonial Disruption of the Master’s Voice among Liberian Market Women (Kirsten J. Broadfoot,Debashish Munshi, and Joëlle Cruz)
  • Acting for, with, and through: A Relational Perspective on Agency in MSF’s Organizing (François Cooren)
  • Agential Encounters: Performativity and Affect Meet Communication in the Bathroom (Karen Lee Ashcraft and Timothy R. Kuhn)
  • Conclusion: Further Theoretical and Practical Reflections on Agency (George Cheney and Dean Ritz)

I already have master students in my class on Organizational Communication at the Copenhagen Business School read the introduction. Be sure to check out the entire volume while it’s fresh.

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