36th EGOS Colloquium
Organizing for a Sustainable Future:
Responsibility, Renewal & Resistance
University of Hamburg
July 2–4, 2020
36th EGOS Colloquium
July 2–4, 2020
In many late-industrial societies, new architectures of welfare have developed over the past three decades, with different
types of CSOs playing pivotal roles in this on-going transformation. In emerging or transforming welfare economies around
the globe, new forms of civil society mobilization and service-delivery are becoming an increasingly important part of the
welfare landscape. Importantly, civil society organizations and initiatives appear both early in the “input” and
agenda-setting phase of the welfare policy process (Reuter et al., 2014), and in the “output” phase where concrete
welfare services are produced and provided to a diverse set of communities. While this dual role for CSOs is not new (Heyse,
2011; Anheier, 2014), an increasing ambivalence characterizes the institutional context in which they are placed, with responsibilities
becoming more unclear.
The ongoing fragmentation and hybridization of the welfare architecture has consequences both for governance – as in control, steering and decision-making – of entire welfare eco-system, and for the character of service provision. The era of clear divisions between spheres of organizing and respective responsibilities has long passed. Today we find rarely embraced the prototypical divisions between the Weberian public agency (1978), the Coaseian business firm (1937) or the Titmuss voluntary agency (1970). Instead we face a constellation of diverse actors engaged in addressing the social and environmental challenges today’s welfare societies face. New problem solving approaches emerge, concerning modes of delivery (e.g., co-production, Brandsen et al., 2018), funding (e.g., social impact bonds, Edmiston & Nicholls, 2017; Cooper et al., 2016), resourcing (e.g., community-based enterprise, Huybrechts & Haugh, 2017), or modes of innovating (e.g., social movement-led innovation, Carberry et al., 2017).
In some areas CSOs are experiencing increasing competition from both for-profits and local government actors, leading to coping through organizational hybridity (Rhodes & Donnelly-Cox, 2014). In other areas, effective problem solving depends on cross-sector collaboration and diverse actor networks (Anheier et al., 2018). At the political end, ideological and political agendas of the different actors are increasingly fused with both profit motives and other types of interests as the welfare-related social contract is being re-negotiated. “Strategic action fields” (Fligstein & McAdam, 2015) within the area are becoming difficult to navigate for CSOs.
As it matures the emerging complex web of increasingly interdependent actors in the welfare field opens up for intriguing organizational issues and creates a potential for lasting contributions to organizational theory. For this sub-theme, we therefore call for papers that explore this organizational and institutional complexity and the organizational and institutional challenges related to the changing or evolving role(s) of CSOs in welfare provision and problem solving.
Exemplary questions include:
How are contemporary welfare systems and problem solving organized? (for example: pillarization versus cross-cutting challenges; collaborative settings versus competition, etc.)
Which new forms and principles of organizing do we see as compared to the past? (for example: co-production and co-creation; social impact bonds or other impact oriented finance; cooperative enterprise, etc.)
What are the specific roles of CSOs in this new context, and which changes does this bring or require at the organizational or institutional level? (for example: innovation; value guarding; lobbyism, etc.)
What types of civil society actors can we see (re-)entering the welfare provision arena? (e.g. faith-based CSOs in previously secularized contexts; social movement organizations, etc.)
What are the driving forces behind, and the consequences of, the increased hybrid character or mix of institutional logics in many welfare fields? (for example: complexity; paradox; ambiguity; dynamism, etc.)
We extend our invitation to organization scholars from a wide range of social science disciplines, focusing on contributions that develop scholarship on the new responsibilities of CSOs in relation to other actors and within changing institutional environments.