Sub-theme 26: Digital Media and Organization

Armin Beverungen
Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany
Timon Beyes
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Lisa Conrad
Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany

Call for Papers

We propose an encounter between organization and media studies on the question of digital media and their relation to organization. There is already a firm strand of organizational theorizing emerging out of process philosophy (Chia, 1998), the 'challenge of materiality' (Leonardi et al., 2012) and actor-network theory (Czarniawska & Hernes, 2005). However, there is a strong and heterogeneous contemporary tradition of media theory which is largely absent from this focus on technology and materiality.

One is what has been termed 'new German media theory' (Horn, 2008), which departs from the seminal work of Friedrich Kittler. It allows for the study of the invariably technological conditioning of organization and organizing (cf. Hörl, 2011) – its 'medial a priori' –, both in a media archaeological register and with regard to contemporary digital cultures. Other strands more directly focused on digital media include software studies (Fuller, 2008) and the reconsideration of media aesthetics in digital times (Hansen, 2006).

We suggest an encounter between these canonical and emerging strands of media studies and organization studies is timely for both sides. For organization studies, the effect of digital media on the corporate form and on processes of organizing more generally cannot be ignored. Consider, for example, 'enterprise resource planning' software such as SAP and its part in the reorganization of global supply chains (Pollock & Williams, 2009). In contrast, consider phenomena such as Occupy and Anonymous that posit new forms of organization through digital media (Baxmann et al., 2014).

For media studies, such an encounter is equally apposite at least since Rossiter (2006) called for the invention of new concepts of organization to think through 'organized networks'. Consider, for example, the way Galloway and Thacker (2007) speak of a 'new physics of organization' wherein the Internet (and protocol specifically) is not about disorganization, but rather new forms of hierarchy and control. Or consider the proliferation of concepts such as smart mobs or swarms (Vehlken, 2013) with which media studies seeks to grasp forms of organizing precipitated by digital media. Here media studies turns to contemporary, at times empirical studies of the kind of objects organization studies has long been concerned with.

We invite contributions addressing one or more of the following and indicative list of themes:

  • Media archaeologies of organization
  • Rewritings of organizational history (and the history of organization theory) as media history
  • Software studies of organization (from Excel and PowerPoint to Oracle and SAP)
  • Social media and organization (Facebook revolutions, Blackberry riots) and the ‘knot’ of connectivity and collectivity in the digital age
  • Digital media, ubiquitous computing and the organization of everyday life
  • New forms of surveillance and control (the organization of secrecy vs. transparency in digital culture)
  • "The problematic of a renewed empirical mode" (Rossiter, 2006): methodological implications of a media theory of organization




  • Baxmann, I., Beyes, T., & Pias, C. (2014): Soziale Medien – neue Massen. Zurich: diaphanes.
  • Chia, R. (ed.) (1998): Organized Worlds. London: Routledge.
  • Czarniawska, B., & Hernes, T. (eds): (2005): Actor-Network Theory and Organizing. Copenhagen: Copenhagen Business School Press.
  • Fuller, M. (ed.) (2008): Software Studies. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Galloway, A.R., & Thacker, E. (2007): The Exploit. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Hansen, M. (2006): Bodies in Code. London: Routledge.
  • Horn, E. (2008): "Editor's Introduction: 'There are no media'." Grey Room, 29 (Winter), 6–13.
  • Hörl, E. (ed.) (2011): Die technologische Bedingung. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.
  • Leonardi, P.M., Nardi, B.A., & Kallinikos, J. (eds.) (2012): Materiality and Organising. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Pollock, N., & Williams, R. (2009): Software and Organisations. London: Routledge.
  • Rossiter, N. (2006): Organized Networks. Amsterdam: INC/NAi Publishers.
  • Vehlken, S. (2013): "Zootechnologies: Swarming as a cultural technique." Theory, Culture & Society, 30 (6), 110–131.


Armin Beverungen works at the Digital Cultures Research Lab at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany. He holds a PhD from the University of Leicester, UK; previously, he was a Post-Doc Researcher at the Hybrid Publishing Lab at Leuphana University Lüneburg and a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of England, UK. He is a member of the editorial collective of 'ephemera'.
Timon Beyes is Professor of Design, Innovation and Aesthetics at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and Visiting Professor at the Institute for the Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany. He has a background in sociology and management studies. His research focuses on processes of organization in the context of urban culture, media and the arts.
Lisa Conrad graduated in media, cultural and business studies from Bauhaus University Weimar, Université Lyon 2, and University of Southern Denmark. Since 2009, she is a researcher at the Department of Media, Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany. Her dissertation project looks at the aspiration of instantaneousness as opposed to media obstinacy in organizational practices.