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The 24th EGOS Colloquium 2008  

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Postdoctoral pre-colloquium workshop

PhD pre-colloquium workshop

Roland Calori Prize

EGOS Best Paper Award
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Organizing Committee

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Sub-theme 23:

(Re-)Considering Forms of Power in Organization Studies



David Courpasson
EM Lyon (France)

Damon Golsorkhi
ESC Rouen (France)

Mark Haugaard
National University of Ireland (Galway)

Call for papers

If, as Bertrand Russell put it in 1937, the laws of the social dynamics can be formulated only in terms of power, in organizational studies we need to reconsider the forms of power to better understand the combinations and dynamics between forms (Poggi, 2001). Indeed, power is often considered in a plurality of approach (relational, symbolic, systemic, structural and local to quote only the most common). This plurality allows us to apprehend the various forms of power in organizations. But it has also led to a reduced and impoverished vision of power.

A reduced vision, because the understanding of power is often summarized to a single dimension as Lukes (2005) among others puts it, and generally marked by partisan ontological and epistemological presuppositions which produce a monolithic vision of power. An impoverished vision, because those latter presuppositions do not allow to consider power as a polymorphic and multidimensional phenomenon which can be often exerted in an integrated way or being differently embodied according to the phases and the levels of its exercise.

Consequently, to enrich our investigation(s) of power forms and structures, we should reconsider the diverse ways through which certain dynamics of forms of power are concretely 'hybridizing' the micro-processual (because human beings are condemned partly to self-determination), organizational (because human beings need rules and boundaries) and institutional (because human beings are condemned to be partly determined either by their habitus and/or by the surrounding rules of the game) levels. The challenge becomes then to propose empirical studies and theoretical frameworks which allow us to connect the different levels on one hand, and to propose a more integrative vision of power on the other hand.

In this track we will strive to go beyond the dual approach of power opposing structural/oversocialized perspectives and situational perspectives, through theoretical and empirical contributions stressing power as a. continuously 'living' phenomenon.

In particular, the track will be widely opened to papers addressing issues such as, among other topics, but not exclusively:

  • How can we integrate the various forms of power in Organization Studies? How can we reconsider the exercise of power as polymorphic and multidimensional? What ontological and epistemological challenges are raised by an integrated perspective of power?
  • What are the various mediators and modalities of dissemination, structuration and/or aggregation of power within and between levels? How can actors influence them?
  • What are the various institutional and macroscopic modalities of expression and exercise of power, and how do they influence actors' situational practices?
  • How organizational power shapes intra-organizational practices and inter-organizational relations?
  • How do situated actors diffuse and disseminate their power(s) at the organizational and institutional levels?
  • How do certain contenders manage to disrupt the power of the dominants?

Key readings

Clegg, S., D. Courpasson & N. Phillips (2006): Power in Organizations. London: Sage Publications.

Haugaard, M. (2002): Power. A Reader. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Lukes, S. (2005): Power. A Radical View. 2nd expanded edition. Basingstoke. Palgrave.

Poggi, G. (2000): Forms of Power. Oxford: Polity Press.

About the convenors

David Courpasson is Professor of Sociology at EM LYON Business School (France). He is co-editor of Organization Studies and has recently published Soft Constraint. Liberal Organizations and Domination (2006), and Power in Organizations (2006) with Stewart Clegg and Nelson Phillips.

Damon Golsorkhi is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and Sociology at ESC Rouen Business School (France). He is working on different forms of power within and between organizations, Strategy-as-practice and organizational change and transformation.

Mark Haugaard is Lecturer in Social Theory in the Department of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland, Galway and has recently published Power: A Reader (2002) and Hegemony & Power. Consensus and Coercion in Contemporary Politics (2006) with Howard Lentner.