Brief report from the Gothenburg Meeting Science Symposium 2017

By (guest contributor) Christoph Haug

On 23-24 May 2017, 50 scholars from 13 countries met for the first interdisciplinary gathering of meeting researchers (more info: https://kunsido.net/gmss). Sociologists, psychologists, linguists, social anthropologists, political scientists, organization and management scholars, and even some consultants with their practice oriented perspective mixed and met with much curiosity and willingness to transcend the disciplinary blinders that have isolated them from each other during the past 10-20 years of growing research on meetings.

The symposium was organized by Christoph Haug, currently as Marie-Curie Fellow at the Gothenburg Research Institute, after having come across so many different research groups and individuals who shared an interest in face-to-face meetings but who were often unaware of each other. Initially, the event was planned for 20-30 people, but turned out to attract a much larger community of scholars that were interested in participation.

The most manifest indicator for the symposium’s success is probably that participants started to discuss possibilities for follow-up events already the first evening. Two European universities are likely to host follow-up events in the coming years and CCO scholars with an interest in meetings as a specific type of communicative event are welcome to join this growing community. To be informed about upcoming events and to join the discussion already now, join the Kunsido online forum at https://forum.kunsido.net/signup.


EGOS 2017 Sub-Theme No. 05 “The Communicative Constitution of Organizing”

The EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) No. 05 Organization as Communication (formerly SWG No. 16) is happy to announce the sub-theme for the EGOS 2017 Colloquium in Copenhagen, Denmark (July 6-8, 2017).

The sub-theme No. 05 entitled “The Communicative Constitution of Organizing: Toward and Beyond (Formal) Organization” will be facilitated by Dennis Schoeneborn, Timothy R. Kuhn, and James R. Barker.

As you will see in the Call for Papers, the sub-theme places a special focus on the formative and constitutive role of communication for practices of organizing that occur toward and beyond formal organization. That said, we also invite conceptual or empirical papers that more generally apply a communication-centered or discursive lens to study organizational phenomena of various kinds.

We are looking forward to receiving your short paper submissions (max. 3,000 words) by Jan. 9th, 2017 via the EGOS website!

See you in Copenhagen!


Storify Report of EGOS 2016 PDW on CSR & Communication

If you would like to get a peek into what happened at the EGOS 2016 PDW on “CSR & Communication” in Naples/Italy, please check out our brief Storify report here (generated with friendly support of our social media expert, Annamaria Tuan, University of Pisa).

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And please also make sure of course to take a look at the video podcast of the panel debate that was posted earlier in this blog.

 


Workshop on “Large Social Phenomena” at the University of Warwick (Dec. 5-6, 2016)

Check out this exciting workshop on “Large Social Phenomena” at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK (Dec. 5-6, 2016), jointly organized by Davide Nicolini (U of Warwick) and Katharina Dittrich (U of Zurich). The Call for Papers explicitly invites communication-centered approaches – see here: Workshop on Large Social Phenomena.


New Book on Organizational Memory as a Function

My former colleague Felix Langenmayr (University of Zurich) just published an insightful book at Springer VS: Organisational Memory as a Function: The Construction of Past, Present and Future in Organisations. In his study, he applies a “communication constitutes organizations” (CCO) perspective (grounded in Luhmann’s theory of social systems) to examine how organizations construct their past, present and future. However, if we assume that organizations are constituted in and through communication, how do they ensure their constant reproduction? This ‘problem of connectivity’ is addressed by the functions of memory and oscillation, i.e. by how an organization selectively draws on past and future horizons as resources to construct a constant social reality in which communication is able to overcome its own improbability. Felix Langenmayr elaborates on memory as a functional solution to the problem of sustaining organizations as an interrelated network of communications. In that regard, as he writes, “the function of organizational memory is an answer to the problem that communication is not necessarily an ongoing process, but rather unpredictable and fragile” (p. 175). Felix Langenmayr grounds these theoretical considerations in an empirical study at a European online gaming and gambling company, demonstrating how organizations, given that they are not able to access their past or future, actively and selectively construct these time dimensions in the present. I can recommend the book to everyone who is interested in learning more about how the Luhmannian variant of CCO thinking can be fruitfully employed for conceptual and/or empirical inquiries!

Paper on “The Communicative Constitution of Anonymous” just published in JMS

Anonymous-logo-flag-1551A common feature of most organization-as-communication approaches is a processual view on organizational formation and reproduction, emphasizing the inherently precarious character of even the most bureaucratic organizations. But what about loose social collectives, such as online communities, terrorist networks, or hacker collectives? Is the notion of ‘organization’ useful for describing such fluid social collectives at all?

In a recent article published in the Journal of Management Studies (JMS)*, Leonhard Dobusch and Dennis Schoeneborn suggest using the term ‘organizationality’ for a gradual differentiation of social collectives regarding the degree to which they achieve the status of organizational actorhood. In the authors’ view, one crucial precondition of organizationality is the accomplishment of some form of collective identity through speech acts (“identity claims”) that try to delineate – and thus attribute – what the social collective is or does.

To address the research question on how identity claims contribute to the communicative constitution of fluid social collectives as organizational actors, Dobusch and Schoeneborn mobilize a ”communicative constitution of organizations” (CCO) perspective. Empirically, the authors are investigating the case of the “hacktivist” (i.e., hacker activist) collective Anonymous. Their study contributes to organization studies by showing that fluid social collectives (such as Anonymous) are able to temporarily reinstate organizational actorhood through the performance of carefully prepared and staged identity claims.

* Full reference: Dobusch, L., & Schoeneborn, D. (2015). Fluidity, Identity, and Organizationality: The Communicative Constitution of Anonymous. Journal of Management Studies, 52(8), 1005-1035 (the article is available open access until December 4, 2015).


Happy launch of new EGOS Standing Working Group “Organization as Communication”

The European Group of Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium in Athens/Greece (July 1-4, 2015) featured the launch of the new Standing Working Group “Organization as Communication” (OaC). The launch involved a number of activities:

  • The pre-colloquium Paper Development Workshop (PDW) Investigating the Constitutive Role of Communication for Organization and Organizing on July 1 (organized by Michael Etter, Nicolas Bencherki, and Consuelo Vasquez) brought together junior scholars with more experienced scholars for vivid conversations on how to further advance their resecarch projects and papers (more info on the PDW plus a video of the panel debate involving Linda Putnam, Cliff Oswick, and Dan Kärreman will follow in this blog soon…).
  • The sub-theme Organization as Communication: The Performative Power of Talk from July 2-4 (organized by François Cooren, Lars Thøger Christensen, and Dennis Schoeneborn) included a rich set of 36 papers and fruitful debates in the various sessions. As a special feature, Martin Brigham and Donncha Kavanagh used the final paper session for facilitating special meeting format that allowed participants to reflect on the “Sense of the Sub-Theme”. Their meeting minutes offer a nice summary of the sub-theme – you can download them here.

Next year’s EGOS Colloquium in Naples/Italy (July 6-9, 2016) will again include a PDW and a sub-theme organized by the Standing Working Group “Organization as Communication” (the Call for Papers will follow in the fall 2015). We hope to see many of you there (again)!