Organizations on the Move, and Related Cultural Dynamics
University Bw Munich (Germany)
Margaret E. Phillips
Pepperdine University (USA)
Sabanci University (Turkey)
Copenhagen Business School (Denmark)
Call for papers
Culture, by its very nature, is historically bound and, hence, tends to stabilize organizations. Once acquired, the collectively held basic beliefs, shared understandings, and cultural knowledge serve as lenses for framing problems and provide guidelines for what is considered “proper” behavior in a particular setting. These complexity-reducing and stabilizing functions of culture are helpful in times of continuity and when fast responses are needed. In times of change and upheaval, however, the same functions of culture may, on the one hand, create serious problems of inertia. On the other hand, the unsettled situation may be so upsetting and present such a threat to the organization's cultural core and identity that it may not be recognized and may even be denied by the organization's participants and stakeholders. While start-up organizations tend to thrive by their very unsettled nature to the point of threatening established competitors, often, established organizations need events or people to create upheaval in order to drive change. Nevertheless, all organizations need to change and must experience upset and upheaval to some degree in order to adapt to and survive in their changing environments.
In this sub-theme, we would like to explore the cultural dynamics of organizations on the move – those experiencing 'upset' in response to or in quest of change – in different phases of their life cycle and at different levels of analysis. To this end, we seek to investigate what it takes to recognize and acknowledge upsetting events that necessitate organizational change, how people, groups and organizational units cope with these circumstances, and, most importantly, what role culture plays in these processes.
In particular, we encourage longitudinal empirical studies that address the context of upsetting events (both internal and external to organizations) and provide detailed accounts of the related dynamics at the individual, group, organization, and/or inter-organizational level, if appropriate. More specific questions that we would like to address in this sub-theme include:
- What event / situation / person / group upsets and/or moves the organization?
- What are the major characteristics of the organization at the time of upheaval?
- How is the event / situation / perceived and received in the organization?
- What kind of dynamics evolve at different levels (individual, group/subunit, organization, inter-organization) and with different stakeholders?
- Which aspects facilitate, hinder, or complicate the situation?
- What kind of rhetoric and discourse are employed or developed to deal with the upsetting situation?
- What kind of response mechanisms do people / groups / subunits use or develop to deal with the upsetting situation, and with what kinds of effects?
- What sources of power are observed in use, and what are the effects?
- What cultural or sub-cultural realities or interpretations exist and/or evolve, and what are their effects?
- What have people learned from the situation and the experience?
- What can the researcher(s) learn from the situation both for organization theory and professional practice?
Boyacigiller, N., M.E. Phillips, J. Kleinberg & S. Sackmann (2004): Conceptualizing Culture. In: B.J. Punnett & O. Shenkar (eds.): Handbook for International Management Research. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2nd revised edition, 99-167.
Ravasi, D. & M. Schultz (2006): Responding to Organizational Identity Threats: Exploring the Role of Organizational Culture. Academy of Management Journal, 49 (3): 433-455.
Schumacher, T. (1997):West Coast Camelot: Rise and Fall of an Organizational Culture. In: Sackmann (ed.): Cultural Complexity in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
About the convenors
Sonja Sackmann is a professor in the Institute of Human Resources and Organization Research, University Bw Munich, Germany. Her research focuses on cultural issues in organizational settings, including culture and subculture formation, development, change, perpetuation as well as cultural dynamics and their implications for individuals, groups and the organization. She has published several books and articles in this area both in German and English.
Margaret Phillips is professor in the George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University, USA. Her research focuses on cultural influences on the behavior in and of organizations, management development in multicultural contexts, qualitative research methods, and the management of the arts.
Nakiye Boyacigiller is Dean of the Faculty of Management, Sabanci University, Turkey.
Majken Schultz is a professor in the Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. She has published numerous works on the relations between organizational culture, identity and image and recently argued the neglected role of culture when organizations are upset by identity threats. She has conducted two major research initiatives focusing on how culture influences corporate branding in complex and global organizations.