Save the date: EGOS Preconference “CCO in Practice” planned for July 1-2, 2014 (i.e. right before EGOS 2014 in Rotterdam)

As many of you may have already heard, the communication-centered perspective known under the label “CCO” (“communication as constitutive of organizations”) has been chosen to become a Standing Working Group (SWG) at EGOS (coordinated by Dennis Schoeneborn, Consuelo Vasquez, Tim Kuhn, and François Cooren), following the interest in the sub-themes on “Organiza­tion as Communication” over the past years. This means that at least four EGOS sub-themes in a row (i.e. in the years 2015-2018) will address (in one way or another) the constitutive relation between organization and communication. But given that the SWG will not officially start before 2015, we hope to be able to bridge the time in between with a EGOS CCO preconference 2014 in Rotterdam!

Three members of the CCO community working at Dutch universities are jointly preparing the preconference: Mark van Vuuren (U of Twente), Amanda Porter (VU Amsterdam), and David Novak (Erasmus U Rotterdam). The working title of the preconference is “CCO in Practice.” The preconference aims to be practical in at least two ways: first, a methodological workshop (e.g., about methods like video analysis) will focus on the practice of doing CCO-related research. Second, we will invite practitioners interested in a communication-centered perspective to explore the translation between CCO theories and practical issues. Prominent CCO scholars will be invited for keynotes and discussions. Of course, there will be time to socialize. So, please consider attending the workshop “CCO in Practice” (July 1-2, 2014, i.e. directly before the EGOS 2014 Colloquium)!

In order to come up with the best possible program, we invite you to (1) share with us the methodological issues that you are facing, (2) point us to practitioners who could be interested in attending this preconference and could help us reflect on the impact CCO scholarship for practice, and (3) any other helpful ideas or suggestions. Please send your ideas to the organizers (see below) – or please feel free to post them as comments here in the OaC blog!

With kind regards,

The organizing committee
Amanda Porter (VU Amsterdam)
David Novak (Erasmus U Rotterdam)
and Mark van Vuuren (U of Twente)


Impressions from the EGOS 2013 CCO sub-theme

This year’s European Group of Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium in Montréal/Canada featured a sub-theme devoted to the “Communicative Constitution of Organizations” (CCO). Sub-theme convenors Francois Cooren (U de Montréal), Tim Kuhn (U of Colorado at Boulder), and Dennis Schoeneborn (U of Zurich) were delighted to see so many promising and intriguing papers that all deal (in one way or another) with the CCO perspective. The sub-theme started off with an inofficial preconference workshop on “CCO & methods”, organized by Consuelo Vasquez (UQAM) and Steffen Blaschke (U of Hamburg), that resulted in intense discussions and helfpul feedback to early-stage research. The EGOS sub-theme itself was characterized by a great variety of paper presentations, fruitful discussions and feeback, as well as a lot of fun. The pictures below show, for instance, one of the entertainment highlights of the sub-theme: Maxim Ganzin (U of Alberta) and his charming assistant Amanda Porter (VU Amsterdam) spinning the “wheel of fortune”, as part of Maxim’s paper presentation on the role of myths in the communicative constitution of organizations. We are very much looking forward to continuing the conversations at EGOS 2015 in Tallinn/Estonia at the very latest!

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CSR as aspirational talk

The recent special issue on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the journal Organization features an intriguing article by Lars T. Christensen, Mette Morsing, and Ole Thyssen on “CSR as aspirational talk”. The authors mobilize a CCO/Luhmannian perspective to develop the argument that CSR communication, like all kinds of language use, can have a performative charakter, i.e. communication instigates rather than merely reflects reality. Hence, projecting an (oftentimes futuristic) aspirational ideal through talk, even if not fully reflected in organizational practices, can indeed be an important resource of organizational sensemaking and learning, ultimately paving the way for social change. Enjoy reading the article which can be found here.


Communicative Constructionism: new book

Organizations as communicative constructions combines various streams of research, e.g. the Montreal school, the structurationist perspective and the Luhmannian interpretation. They share a common interest in the communicative construction of organizations. A new book published ahead of time (yeah, it’s one of these rare events that the book was announced to be published in 2013 and is already available – I wish that would happen more often!) discusses the topic of communicative constructionism: a concept derived and developed upon Berger & Luckmann’s classical 1967 work on the Social Construction of Reality. If you look very carefully at the cover of the book you see the hidden reference.

The editors – Keller, Knoblauch & Reichertz – are well known social scientists. Their common biographical thread is the ambition to push the knowledge of science to a more communicative approach. The volume covers diverse topics from a basic introduction towards applied research and case studies. For organization as communication especially interesting is the piece by Ortmann (2013) on the phenomenology of decision making.

Unfortunately the volume is published only in German but it can add to the growing movement towards a communicative agenda in social sciences.

Book Info: Reiner KellerJo ReichertzHubert Knoblauch (Eds.) (2013): Kommunikativer Konstruktivismus: Theoretische und empirische Arbeiten zu einem neuen wissenssoziologischen Ansatz. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. ISBN: 978-3-531-19796-8 (Print) 978-3-531-19797-5 (Online)


Some impressions from the CCO-focused sub-theme at EGOS 2012 in Helsinki

The EGOS 2012 Colloqium in Helsinki featured one of the first CCO-focused mini-conferences on European soil. The sub-theme “Organizations as Phenomena of Language Use: Interconnecting Discourse and Communication“, convened by Joep Cornelissen, Tim Kuhn, and Dennis Schoeneborn, involved 22 exciting papers (selected out of 44 submissions). The presentations and vivid discussions shed light on various key dimensions of the organization-communication relations, such as legitimacy, identity, or the tension between emergence and purposeful design of organizational communication. Please find below two pictures from the sub-theme (powered by Hannah Trittin), incl. a couple of happy participants. And stay tuned for our related sub-theme at EGOS 2013 in Montréal (which will be jointly hosted by Francois Cooren, Tim Kuhn, and Dennis Schoeneborn)!


Fresh off the AMR Press: A Communicative Framework of Value in Cross-Sector Partnerships

Matt Koshman, Tim Kuhn, and Mike Pfarrer finally got their Communicative Framework published in the July issue of AMR. We’re glad to see the notion of organization as communication spread further and further. Congratz to our dear colleagues! Here’s the abstract of their paper:

Cross-sector partnerships (XSPs) are an important part of today’s organizational landscape and a favored strategy for addressing complex social problems. However, a discrepancy exists between the popularity and prevalence of XSPs and evidence of their ability to produce value with respect to the problems they address. We therefore offer a framework for increasing and assessing XSP value based on an alternative conception of organizational constitution rooted in communication theory. Our central argument is that the overall value of XSPs is not merely in connecting interested parties but, rather, in their ability to act— to substantially influence the people and issues within their problem domain. This ability, we argue, comes from the constitution of organizational forms that are distinct from their members and that display collective agency —the capacity to influence a host of relevant outcomes beyond what individual organizations could do on their own. Our primary contributions are developing a framework for understanding XSP constitution in terms of communication processes and explaining how XSP value can be increased and assessed through communication practices.

Be sure to check out the entire paper, Matt’s animated explanation of the communicative constitution of organization and Tim’s keynote answer to question, what if organization studies took communication theory seriously?


The Three Pillars of CCO Remain a Mystery

I’m a scientist with heart and soul, not all good natured as my coauthors can attest, but certainly trusting others to bring to the table what I lack in ambition, knowledge, and perseverance. That being said, I’m thoroughly disappointed when others I work with don’t do their job.

I regret to have to inform you that we lost the video recordings of our Three Pillars of CCO meeting from back in March. It’s not a failure of hardware or software, which would be something we could actually do something about. No, no, the media team here at the University of Hamburg responsible for the post-production of the recordings lost the external hard drive — as in physically lost it. Or so I’m told. No finger pointing.

The loss of the video recordings is more than unfortunate. It’s like losing an arm and a leg in the scientific face off we encountered in our meeting of the Three Pillars of CCO. I guess they remain a mystery for now. At least until we find the time to put our thoughts in writing.