Sub-theme 24:
Self-reinforcing Organizational Processes: Studying Stabilizing and Destabilizing Dynamics

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Georg Schreyögg, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Hüseyin Leblebici, University of Illinois, USA

Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Call for Papers

The sub-theme seeks to bring together researchers from all over the world who study self-reinforcing and escalating dynamics in organizations and networks in order to foster exchange of theoretical ideas and empirical insights that might be conducive to further understanding the stabilizing and destabilizing mechanisms that feature prominently in organizations and inter-organizational relations in a global economy. Examples of such self-reinforcing processes are self-justification (escalating commitment), increasing returns, network externalities, cognitive spirals and bandwagon effects. The sub-theme applies the general theme of the 27th EGOS Colloquium - Reassembling Organizations - to the dynamics of stabilizing and destabilizing in and between organizations. It focuses on the dialectics of making use of routines, its strong reinforcement and its (unintended) destabilizing consequences (escalating commitment, rigidification, dysfunctional flips, etc.).

The field of self-reinforcing processes provides a particularly advantageous context for exploring the consequences of organizing efforts (assembling - disassembling - reassembling), as it is rapidly developing on different levels: individual, groups, organizational, inter-organizational relations and organizational field, embedded in different institutional environments and numerous strategic contexts.

The sub-theme particularly invites contributions that focus on one or more of the following issues:

  • The role of initial conditions, internal and external to an organization, for triggering self-reinforcing processes
  • Self-reinforcing patterns in everyday organizing
  • Making self-reinforcement reflexive
  • Self-reinforcing processes as systemic forces that transcend individual routine compliance
  • Forms of organizational self-reinforcing processes and their development over time (network effects, economies of scale, complementarities, etc.)
  • Analysis of self-reinforcing processes in inter-organizational relations, focusing, e.g., on science-industry relations, regional clusters, local and global financial markets, etc.
  • Dynamics of self-reinforcement, forms, intensity, diffusion in organizations, etc.
  • The interplay among self reinforcing processes on different levels (individual, group, organizational, network, field, market level) and the various mechanisms that link these levels
  • Processes and interventions which are likely to modify or to stop self-reinforcement considering both intentional and unintentional activities (e.g. stopping events, break outs, paradoxical interventions, or unlearning)

The sub-theme intends to foster an exchange of theoretical ideas and empirical research across various substantive issues. Papers that discuss such substantive issues, and possibly others, empirically or conceptually, comparatively or monographically, with regard to recent or more historical developments, are cordially invited.

Sub-theme format

The sub-theme wishes to attract both high-quality contributions that are ready to be submitted to a research journal as well as research in progress that explores these challenging issues. It seeks to provide an opportunity for engaging in constructive dialogue and to encourage mutual learning among the participating scholars. All paper presentations will be commented by a discussant from the group. Session leaders will be asked to provide an open and encouraging atmosphere for discussion. Special discussants will be asked to summarize the discussions of at the end of each of three days thereby cutting across the various papers presented on that day. In order to allow for as much discussion as possible among the participating scholars, paper presentations will be restricted to 15-20 minutes.


Georg Schreyögg is currently Professor of Management and Organization Studies at the School of Busi-ness & Economics of Freie Universität Berlin. He received his doctoral degrees from Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. His recent research has focused on organiza-tional change, strategic management, and organizational capabilities. He is currently the chairman of the Berlin research group of organizational path dependence.

Hüseyin Leblebici is currently Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Business Administration. His recent research focuses on two interrelated macro organizational domains: The co-evolutionary processes in the profes-sions and organizational fields; and, the evolution of business models and how they im-pact on the industry evolution and the firms' competitive advantage. He is currently working on the historical evolution of business models in two-faced markets such as credit cards and its implication for the development of strategic business groups and institutionalization of industry practices. The focus of his empirical work within the pro-fessions and professional firms is the growth patterns of large corporate law firms in the US during the period of 1978 and 2007. He investigates how the institutionalized prac-tices of the legal profession influences the long-term growth patterns of professional firms.

Jörg Sydow is currently Professor of Management and Inter-firm Cooperation at the School of Busi-ness & Economics of Freie Universität Berlin and a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Business of Strathclyde University, Glasgow. His recent research focuses on management and organization theory; strategic partnering and inter-firm networking, especially in service and science-based industries; technology and innovation manage-ment, especially the management of innovation networks and clusters; and industrial relations.

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