32nd EGOS Colloquium, Naples 2016


Call for sub-theme proposals



Organizing in the Shadow of Power

July 79, 2016

Naples, Italy


University of Naples Federico II

Dept. of Economics, Management, Institutions


(in cooperation with Parthenope University of Naples, Second University of Naples, University of Salerno)

Power is central to any form of organizing. Scholars have long debated its forms, dimensions, manifestations and outcomes in and across organizations. Power cann be some more visible, institutionalized, and legitimate, but also hidden, anarchic, illicit and even violent, erupting suddenly and disrupting organizational life like a volcano, an earthquake or other major exogenous event. It is no coincidence that the choice of this theme is so fitting for the Naples Colloquium a city living in the shadow of a volcano.

Power can be overt, covert or a mixture of both. However, all forms of power cast shadows, some sharp, others more obfuscated, with which individuals, organizations and societies must cope, or work around. Understanding and examining these processes underpins the general theme of this Colloquium. The exercise of power can be a potent means of improving productivity and growth. At the same time, it can result in exploitation and the creation of inequalities, often breeding fear and silence. Power can trigger subversion, attempting to undermine or putting up resistance against established authorities, institutions, and professional elites, mobilizing collective energies towards what is argued to be a greater good. Other countervailing processes can be characterized by persistence, marked by a "making do" attitude of agility, improvisation, and bricolage, backed by entrepreneurial spirit and informal networks.

Power, resistance, and persistence in organizations often exist side by side, alongside reactions to them, such as revolt, bargaining, sabotage, cynicism, complacency, inventiveness, or ignorance. Many scholars have examined and debated the various epistemologies of power and its exercise, and have attempted to characterize the complex mixtures of power, control, resistance and persistence, which more fully capture the interwoven and perhaps interdependent relations between power and resistance. They have examined resistance where some forms of it may be equally described as shadowy, covert and, occasionally, illegal. There is a rich stream of scholarship in these areas, which will help inform the Colloquium theme.

American anthropologist Jason Pine charted his experiences in Naples, translating a well-known Neapolitan expression "arte di arrangiarsi" to coin the phrase in English as "the art of making do". It describes the local "attitude" of handling a context marked by hidden powers and blurred distinctions in original, entrepreneurial, and informal ways. Naples has perfected this art of "making do" in the shadow of Vesuvius and its latent brutal power. Seen from the city, it does not appear like common images of volcanoes worldwide. There is no smoke or eruptive fissures on its sides. Seemingly quiet, it hides in its depths relentless magmatic movements and catastrophic potential, its ever-present threat internalized by the Neapolitans and characterized by a fatalistic attitude and scepticism toward coping with power making do. This fatalism in the shadow of the Vesuvius's power invites more reflection on whether and how power and resistance can be ignored or disregarded (as some organizational theorists do) and how, if dormant for long periods, they can surface periodically with unpredictable consequences.

The 2016 EGOS Colloquium seeks to engage with the topic of organization and organizing in the shadow of power, exploring and discussing what the shadow of power and organizing as "making do" might mean in and across diverse contexts. In particular, we invite sub-theme proposals that address, but are not limited to, the following questions and themes:

  • What are the grey zones of and limits to organizing? This theme examines the grey zones of organizing, those invisible, implicit, improvised, or unintentional aspects of organized life that operate at the margins and in the silences of 'formal' rules and structures and have effects beyond what is explicitly recognized or intended. It also invites explorations into the limits of legitimacy in and of institutions and institutionalization processes, where illegitimate activities can be employed, reproduced, and institutionalized.
  • How do hidden and overt arenas of power coexist and interact? This theme zooms in on the interstices of organizations and networks in the shadow and those in the daylight as arenas of power, well- or ill-defined and pregnant with tensions and paradoxes. This raises questions of whether the coexistence and interaction of shadow and light, risk and inertia, represent a distinctive context, which requires new perspectives, methods, and actions, or whether all organizations are traversed by such institutional and individual power games.
  • How do subversive and unconventional realities come into being and sustain their existence? This theme seeks to expand inquiries into the power of organizing from below, and erupting suddenly through the unheard voices of grassroots protest and other social movements (such as social media, for example).


We are looking for sub-themes that not only give a voice to the subversive or unconventional realities of organizing, but also those blending disciplines, questioning epistemologies, and exploring new methodologies in unconventional settings and ways.

A network of local universities has joined forces to host the 32nd EGOS Colloquium and ensure a rich mix of intellectual energies: University Federico II (founded in 1224, one of the oldest state-supported institutions of higher education and research in the world), University Parthenope, Second University of Naples, and University of Salerno.


  • First of all, please see the?Guidelines and criteria for the submission of sub-theme proposals for EGOS Colloquia.
  • Submissions are expected to include an outline of the proposed theme and the related area of interest (maximum of two pages), as well as a short description of the team of convenors, including their academic background and experience. The sub-theme proposals should connect to aspects of the general theme, if possible, yet avoid repetition of it in their titles.
  • Convenor teams should be international in composition (convenors from at least two countries) and should include at least one highly reputed scholar and one convenor experienced in organizing EGOS sub-themes. The maximum convenor team size is three scholars; proposals from teams of four or more convenors will not be considered.

Submission period (online via the EGOS website):
  • Start: Monday, October 6, 2014
  • End: Monday, December 15, 2014, 23:59:59 CET

For any further questions, please contact

  • either the EGOS Colloquium 2016 Organizing Committee in Naples ()
  • or Angelika Zierer, Head of EGOS Executive Secretariat ().