Sub-theme 31: Management and Organization Theory: A Game

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Convenors:
Steffen Roth
La Rochelle Business School, France
Ralf Wetzel
Vlerick Business School, Belgium
Monika Kostera
Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Call for Papers


In his play “Biography: A game”, Swiss dramatist and novelist Max Frisch gives a middle-aged researcher the opportunity to restart his life at any point of his biography and change his decisions and actions. The current digital transformation of management and organization is acting as director of a similar play. Since digitalization does not stop at randomly producing digital copies of analog content, this epochal transformation involves an option to jettison the obsolete among the analog concepts, which again opens a historic windows of opportunity through which we can review and redesign our collective biography as researchers in management and organization.
 
Frisch stage-manages biography as accumulation of mistakes and failures. The game is hence designed to have a bad end: The researcher keenly avoids any larger surprise, and after a small series of halfhearted modifications his situation is even somewhat worse than in his cheerless original biography. The key message received is that a unique opportunity deserves to be met by more than incremental change. The digital transformation of management and organization therefore is a veritable call to large-scale redesigns of both forms and contents of research in management and organization, while the second message sent by Biography is that such games end badly if researchers remain just actors in a play rather than also acting playfully, thus redirecting the game. In fact, play necessarily comes into play whenever transformations create situations similar to open spaces and first contacts, in which the contingent nature of the social world is particularly perceptible, as is the corresponding unsettling assurance that this world can and always must be re-/invented.
 
The objective of this sub-theme is to meet scholars who do or intend to conceptualize and develop management and organization theory as game. To this end, conceptual or concept papers as much as alternative formats are invited that go beyond addressing gamification as topic of management and organization theories or tool of management learning, respectively. In this sub-theme, we will be keen to read and listen to ideas how forms of play and game may considerable reshape the forms and functions of theorizing on management and organization, thus creating windows of opportunity for surprising and explorative scholarship.
 
These ideas may correspond to the subsequent non-exclusive list of tags, topics, and teasers:

  • Gamification: Tools, trends, and test cases for a serious or simply playful gamification of management and organization theory

  • Retooling: Experiences with or anticipations of new tools for theory design (Lego, computer programs, artworks, etc.)

  • Improvisation: Techniques of bricolage and yesanding for going beyond paradigmatic frames

  • Abduction: Explorations in speculative forms of reasoning and theorizing

  • Flirt: Ways to almost thoughtlessly and intuitively discover next steps, missing links, and hidden desires

  • Dance: Theory as only one side of an ever-oscillating distinction that keeps us in e-/motion

  • Sampling: Management and organization theory as techno science or: lessons to be learnt from electronic music DJs and VJs

  • Scratching: New strategies for decomposing theories or building theories from scratch

  • Backmasking: New sounds of old theories played backwards or reloaded

  • Reverse-engineering: Reverse theory engineering as practice for theory learning and new theory design

  • Digital transformation: Sources and codes for the digital transformation of management and organization research

  • Hacking: Creative-destructive (digital) tools for theory re-/design
     

Steffen Roth is Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the La Rochelle School of Business (France) and Professor of Sociology at the Yerevan State University (Armenia). He was awarded a PhD in management from Chemnitz University of Technology (Germany) and holds another PhD in organizational sociology from University of Geneva (Switzerland). He was Assistant Professor of Management and Organization at Rennes School of Business (France), Visiting Professor at the International University of Rabat (Morocco), the University of Cagliari (Italy), at the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), and at the Yerevan State University (Armenia). His research fields include organization theory, functional differentiation, next societies, ideation and crowdsourcing, and culturomics.
Ralf Wetzel began his career as an electrician. He joined Vlerick Business School as an Associate Professor of Organization and Management after extensive work experience in management and organization research and after being head of a joint research and consulting group. His career path led him from Germany to the UK, via Switzerland to Belgium. He applies art-based research like improvisation principles and theatre play in his work, especially for inquiring into topics like organization theory and behaviour, change management, consulting, leadership, organization and society. Aside of his academic writing, he loves to turn research results into art-based forms like fiction, accessible for non-academic readers.
Monika Kostera is Full Professor of Management at the Jagiellonian University, Kraków (Poland), as well as Full Professor at Durham University (UK). She has authored and edited over 35 books in Polish and English and a number of articles published in journals including ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Organizational Behavior’ and ‘British Journal of Management’, and she is associate editor of ‘Management Learning’. Her current research interests include the imagination and organizing, narrative organization studies, organizational ethnography and the humanistic turn in management. Her most recent books include “Management in a Liquid Modern World” (together with Z. Bauman, I. Bauman & J. Kociatkiewicz, 2015, Polity), “Occupy Management!” (2014, Routledge), and “Organizations and Archetypes” (2013, Edward Elgar).
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