EGOS Honorary Member 2016


Haridimos Tsoukas

Laudatio by Ann Langley

Dear EGOSians,
It is my great privilege and pleasure to introduce to you the 2016 EGOS Honorary Member: Haridimos Tsoukas.
Hari will be our 18th Honorary Member… and the only one so far hailing from Greece, where we held the 31st EGOS annual Colloquium last year in Athens. Hari and the Athens organizers offered us a stimulating and challenging theme very dear to Hari’s heart: “Organizations and the Examined Life: Reason, Reflexivity and Responsibility.”
Well Hari – I hope you are sitting comfortably because we are about to “examine your life!” However, no worries… I think everyone will agree with me that Hari Tsoukas’ scholarship, commitment, wisdom and professional virtues more than fulfil the criteria laid out by the EGOS Board. In fact, he is not only an exceptional scholar, and a committed EGOSian, but a remarkable academic entrepreneur, an inspiring teacher, an engaged politician as well as a great colleague and friend. And I am going to briefly say a word about each of these.
First, the scholar: Hari Tsoukas is currently Columbia Ship Management Professor of Strategic Management at University of Cyprus and Distinguished Research Environment Professor of Organization Studies at Warwick University. He obtained his PhD at Manchester Business School in Organizational Sociology. He has also held academic positions at the Universities of Essex, Strathclyde and ALBA Graduate School of Management.
He is known as a prolific and influential writer who has marked the field of in important ways and indeed, is still doing so. He has received multiple honours for his work (most recently his nomination as Doctor of Science at University of Warwick in 2014). For those interested in such things, three of his papers have been cited over 1000 times in Google scholar. However, it is not just the volume of his work and his citation counts which are impressive but his highly original theoretical style that draws on philosophical roots to develop novel insights into organizations and organizing. He deals with complex subject matter but does so in a way that is always novel, engaging and accessible. Some of his particularly influential pieces include his work on knowledge, on epistemology, on complexity, on metaphor, and on change as organizational becoming. His work seems also in some ways distinctively “European”, based as it often is on philosophy, and the sociological theories of process and practice. Yet he has published successfully in both the top European and North American journals, and is author or editor of 15 books.
Second, I want to talk about Hari the EGOSian. As I mentioned, Hari played an important intellectual role behind the scenes of the 31st EGOS Colloquium in Athens. But perhaps his most remarkable contribution has been as Editor of Organization Studies from 2003 to 2008. I was privileged to be one of the first “Senior Editors” at Organization Studies during his tenure. At the time, the number of submissions was growing rapidly and it was getting beyond the capacities of a single person to manage all the editorial responsibilities. I was very impressed with the way Hari reorganized the editorial process, making it much more decentralized, and yet instilling a kind of collective emulation around standards of quality in editing and in content that I believe still benefits the journal today. In some sense, he took Organization Studies over the inflexion point to become the widely recognized outlet that it is today.
This brings me to the next item: Hari Tsoukas as academic organizer and Entrepreneur. Hari has influenced the field not just through his own writing, but in the way that he has managed to bring people together to discuss and develop ideas that he believes are intellectually important. Indeed, while at Organization Studies, he inaugurated the “Organization Studies Summer Workshop” (again still in place to day) as a high quality small conference on a specific theme, usually of particular relevance and interest to the EGOS community, but drawing in others too. After his stint at Organization Studies, he initiated the “International Symposium on Process Organization Studies” and invited me to join him in developing this which I have been delighted to do. However, Hari was and still is definitely the entrepreneurial partner in this activity. For each symposium, he has broadened our thinking by introducing us to different strands of process philosophy outside the managerial mainstream. The symposium is known for its relaxed and stimulating style, but also for its fascinating keynotes including the most renowned philosophers in the world that management scholars rarely have a chance to listen to. These are part of Hari’s special touch.
Beyond these research related activities, it is perhaps less well known that Hari Tsoukas also contributes in some surprising ways to practice. In the language that our colleagues from the UK have taught us, he has “impact”. Despite an intellectual profile that might appear at first sight far removed from what many businesses might think they need, he teaches a highly successful and popular Executive MBA course at Warwick and at Alba University that draws on Aristotelian thinking. It is called “Leadership and the Art of Judgement” and in its Warwick version, it involves amongst other things drawing on Shakespeare and the Greek Tragedies to introduce MBA students to the principles of phronetic judgement.
On a different front, Hari has recently become engaged in the Greek political debate, both as a candidate at the most recent general election and as a commentator on the Greek situation both in Greek media, and for CNN. He gave a memorable talk to the doctoral and junior faculty workshops at EGOS 2016 in Athens about the origins of the crisis that was at that very moment playing out on the streets. He has written a book in Greek on the situation and published a paper in European Management Journal on this topic. While many of us bemoan the fact that our political elites are forever consulting economists and ignoring organization theorists, Hari Tsoukas did not wait to be asked and is always willing to address the important issues of the day. This is something that all of us might learn from.
Finally, it would not be right to end this brief talk without saying just a few words of personal appreciation. I have been privileged to work with Hari on a number of projects over the past several years: a special issue of Academy of Management Journal, the PROS symposium and book series, and the “SAGE Handbook of Process Organization Studies” that is forthcoming later this year. Hari – it has always been a great pleasure to work with you – stimulating, challenging and great fun! And a special thank you for providing me with an excuse to go to a Greek island every year…
In summary, Haridimos Tsoukas is an original thinker who has made important and influential contributions to scholarship in organization studies and to the EGOS community. We are proud to have you as our 2016 Honorary Member!