Sub-theme 53: Designing Innovative and Responsible Organizations: Cities, Communities and Workplaces [merged with sub-themes 54 and 55]

Stewart Clegg
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Steven Dhondt
Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
Nils Wåhlin
Umeå University School of Business and Economics, Sweden
Gilles Crague
Paris-Est University, France

Call for Papers

The world's population increasingly live in cities and cities have become the important drivers of globalization. Global cities across the globe invest time, energy and resources to craft urban strategies. Organization studies, not least its connection to the strategy discipline, has begun to discuss these issues (Czarniawska, 2003; Kornberger & Clegg, 2011; Kornberger, 2012) in an emerging agenda that addresses strategy and the city and the organizational challenges managers, planners, and other stakeholders struggle with in cities. Design and organizing of city development processes is an important strategic endeavour to investigate further. Cities provide advanced information and communication technologies to support the management of the global economy as well as serving as headquarters for global corporations. Rotterdam is a perfect example, owing its pre-eminence to geography, hinterland and trade. These worldwide shifts place cities, their management and organization, under considerable pressure as they seek to attract talent, move up city rankings, and remain economically and civically habitable spaces. The process of reimagining, rethinking and reshaping the identity of the city becomes an important quest.

Climate change and the global financial and Eurozone crises both constitute serious threats to future economic growth and societal well-being of many cities. Some, such as London, see their core business of finance under challenge as regulatory regimes are questioned. Others, such as Asian and Latin American megalopoles, face the challenges of growth rather than decline as peasants flock to become proletarians. Every 'happening' city is alike; every failing city is failing in its own way. Major questions for organization are confronted when we make such enquiry: How can we change city development processes and urban sustainability in ways that stimulate city residents while simultaneously providing a balance between business and society needs? How can cities be designed in space and time in order to stimulate urban commons for future generations? What politics of urbanity and civility do circuits of capital, property, and power relations intersect?

Strategy, informed by organization theory, embraces the play of power and politics both inside and outside organizations (Clegg et al., 2011). In line with this there is a search for a new grammar of organizing (Bengtsson et al., 2007) that contextualizes organizational attempts in a wider societal sense illuminating both ostensive and performative practices of organizing (Hallin, 2009).

We invite scholars to submit papers that address these challenges utilizing a range of approaches sensitive to the practice of city development processes. Sub-theme proposals may address, but are not limited to, reimagining, rethinking, and reshaping research on the following themes:

  • Sustainable cities and urban commons
  • Climate change and city development
  • Urban planning versus urban strategies
  • Formation of the projective city
  • Strategy-as-practice and city development
  • Cultural institutions and events as drivers for city development
  • Architecture and design as reflexive space in city development
  • City development in a brand society
  • Cities as digital communities
  • Everyday life and organizing in cities
  • Managing big and small cities – what are the contingencies of scale?



Bengtsson, Maria, Tomas Müllern, Anders Söderholm & Nils Wåhlin (2007): A Grammar of Organizing. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publications.
Clegg, Stewart, Chris Carter, Martin Kornberger & Jochen Schweitzer (2011): Strategy. Theory and Practice. London: SAGE Publications.
Czarniawska, Barbara (2003): A Tale of Three Cities. Or the Glocalization of City Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hallin, Anette (2009): Size Matters. Ostensive and Performative Dimensions of Organizational Size. Stockholm: The Royal Institute of Technology.
Kornberger, Martin & Stewart Clegg (2011): 'Strategy as Performative Practice: The Case of Sydney 2030.' Strategic Organization, 9 (2), pp. 136–162.
Kornberger, Martin (2012): 'Governing the City: From Planning to Urban Strategy.' Theory, Culture & Society, 29 (2), pp. 84–106.


Stewart Clegg is Research Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and Director of the Centre for Management and Organization Studies Research and a Visiting Professor at EM-Lyon, France, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, and Umeå School of Business and Economics, Sweden. He is one of the most published and cited authors in the top-tier journals in the Organization Studies field.
Steven Dhondt is Professor of Social Innovation, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, network coordinator of the European Workplace Innovation Network (EUWIN); senior research scientist at TNO, The Netherlands.
Nils Wåhlin is Associate Professor at Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Sweden. His research focus is practices of organizing, designing and strategizing with a special interest for city development processes. He now leads a three-year research study of European Capitals of Culture.
Gilles Crague is Director of the Social Sciences and Humanities Department at Ecole des Ponts Paristech, Paris-Est University, France. He studies how new business organizations interact (or avoid to interact) with communities in which they are located. More recently, his research has been extended to economic development and organizing of big cities. He co-edited a special issue of 'Sociologie du Travail' on responsibility and business organization (2012). His book on "Corporations and Territories" was published by Presses Université Laval in 2013.