Obituary for Marianne Risberg

It is with great sadness that EGOS has learnt that our friend Marianne Risberg passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday evening, September 29, 2010 after a long illness.

In her role as Executive Secretary, Marianne played a pivotal role in developing the European Group for Organizational Studies as a scholarly association and community. She took over the EGOS Executive Secretariat in 2001 and managed it until 2006. During this period, she built and developed an effective administrative infrastructure which enabled EGOS to keep pace with the rapidly growing membership while setting a distinctively personal and service-oriented style which became a role model for her collaborators and successors. For Marianne, EGOS was not just an academic association but a scholarly community with personal relations to be cultivated and nurtured. Building on the "Guidelines for the organization of EGOS Colloquia", drafted by the late Roland Calori following the EGOS Colloquium in Lyon in 2001, Marianne continuously and meticulously reworked EGOS procedures to make the Colloquia work like a well-oiled, yet distinctively human enterprise. In many ways, Marianne was at the central node of organizational learning and acted as the organizational memory of EGOS. Marianne's administrative and human skills were important for the managing the transition of Organization Studies from de Gruyter to SAGE as publisher. Working with Peer Hull Kristensen, David Wilson and then Sigrid Quack as Chairpersons, Marianne assumed a strategic role in developing the internet presentation of EGOS, its IT system and, together with Jean-Claude Thoenig and Frank den Hond as EGOS Treasurers, made EGOS the financially sound organization it is today. In all these functions, Marianne established a distinctively human approach and left a lasting mark on the organizational culture of EGOS.

It was in this fashion that she diligently trained up her successor as EGOS Executive Secretary, Angelika Zierer-Kuhnle, generously inviting her on many occasions to her home in Copenhagen and sharing with and conveying to Angelika her "tacit knowledge" of EGOS. Having once handed over the reins, Marianne was always on hand to offer her unsurpassable help and advice.

When Marianne decided to retire as EGOS Executive Secretary in 2006, she did so in the expectation of dedicating more time to her intellectual and academic interests. One would have hoped that she would have been able to follow her ambition and passion to write her already planned thesis in philosophy. The sudden discovery and rapid aggravation of her illness foreclosed the fulfilment of this lifelong dream.

Yet, intellectual and organizational leadership often arise, as James March and Steven Schecter tell us in their film on "Heroes and History: Lessons for Leadership from Tolstoy's War and Peace" in which Marianne herself appears, from a stream of consistent and constructive everyday reflections and practical action. In this respect, the philosophical and practical wisdom that Marianne gave to EGOS as an organization and the intellectual reflections she shared so generously with many EGOS members, a considerable number of which became dear and close personal friends to her, will live on and keep enriching our academic community.

Our thoughts are with Marianne's son Thomas and her family. She will be sorely missed by her friends and colleagues on the EGOS Board and by many EGOSians throughout the world.

Sigrid Quack
Peer Hull Kristensen
David Wilson
Eero Vaara
Angelika Zierer-Kuhnle



EGOS has set up an online book of condolences to give all those who knew and loved Marianne the opportunity to post their personal messages.

This book will then be handed over to Marianne's family at a later date.


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