For the first time, the Colloquium of the European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) will be held outside Europe! As a city historically based on different cultures, Montréal has long been considered a hub for people and merchandise flowing between North America and Europe. It is thus a perfect location to explore the theme of the 29th EGOS Colloquium: Bridging Continents, Cultures and Worldviews.
The Colloquium will be an opportunity to construct multiple bridges between different ways of understanding contemporary organizations and of doing, communicating and publishing organizational research. The bridge metaphor conveys the idea of connection, of unity, of meeting half way.
Yet, in the words of Simmel ("Bridge and Door", Theory, Culture & Society, 1994: 5):
"It would be meaningless to connect that which is not separated."
Thus, there is a dialectic tension underlying the notion of bridging that offers multiple possibilities for imaginative interpretation and critical reflection.
The emphasis on Continents, Cultures and Worldviews suggests three axes for exploration.
The idea of Bridging Continents is an important one for an academic organization whose name identifies it as intra-continental, but whose geographic reach and appeal has expanded rapidly in recent years. The theme of bridging continents echoes a longstanding preoccupation of organizational scholars with the challenges of managing across national and continental boundaries. It raises societal and political questions about the formation and functioning of transcontinental and transnational institutions at a time when economic, environmental, and technological issues are increasingly planetary in scope. The theme offers opportunities to consider bridging across the classic continental divides between north and south and between east and west. There are also critical questions about who benefits and who loses from bridging, and about what valued specificities may be destroyed or undermined through bridge-building.
The idea of Bridging Cultures underlines the importance of examining organizational topics and issues in a multicultural context, inclusive of marginal voices. Cultural diversity includes but goes beyond an interest in the influence of national cultures on management and organizations. Organizations can be seen as a nexus of multiple logics, circuits of power and divergent identities oriented around professions, occupational groups and generations. From a more macro perspective, the impact of immigration policies on workforce diversity and mobility has implications for organizational development and society. Living with a more diverse society requires competencies and strategies to deal with the inherent tensions of increased pluralism. The notion of Bridging Cultures suggests a need to consider ways to build organizations and societies that recognize diversity rather than suppressing it.
The idea of Bridging Worldviews refers to the desire to make the 29th Colloquium an arena for researchers from diverse horizons and
theoretical frames to exchange ideas and develop new ways of understanding. There is room for considering potential connections between problem-centered, theoretical and critical research paradigms. Bridging Worldviews invites organizational researchers to debate the advantages and risks of bridging disciplines, theories and methods in organizational knowledge production, transfer and diffusion.
It suggests reflection on paradox, dialectics and pluralism. It calls for consideration of how dialogue between research and practice might expand the scope and range of management and organization theory. Bridging worldviews might also lead to a discussion of who or what may be playing the role of bridge (e.g., universities, conferences, journals, social networks on line and so on), and how these bridges may influence patterns of collaboration and the shape of emerging scholarship for better or worse.
We expect that proposed sub-themes for this Colloquium will take seriously the metaphor of bridging but with permission to stretch the envelope in multiple ways (wrapping the bridge? burning bridges? living under the bridge?). Under the bridging metaphor, we propose to examine organizational topics and ideas through the lenses of connection, dialogue, interplay, synthesis and hybridization, in dynamic tension with separation, distance, boundaries, diversity and pluralism. Colloquium participants will be invited to address different ways through which bridging might occur, whether and why bridging might be desirable, and how research in organizations might contribute to bridging diversity while enabling and rejoicing in it.
Montréal et sa joie de vivre vous attendent!