WORKSHOP: Collective Action in Crisis?

Organized by Ignasi Marti, Martin Kornberger, Joep Cornelissen, Corinna Frey-Heger, Marian Gatzweiler& Renate Meyer

Date: May 16 & 17 2019 

Time: Thursday 16 12noon – Friday 17 3pm

Location:Institute of Social Innovation, ESADE, Barcelona 

Context:The problem of the organization and governance of collective action surfaces as particularly apparent in crisis situations such as in war zones or the management of large-scale humanitarian emergencies. Such contexts often evade clear-cut classification and present challenges in terms of polycentric governance, distributed decision-making and collective sensemaking for the actors involved. The instability of these settings, and the pressing need for collaboration amongst actors that do not necessarily share a common history, tradition or identity make the organization and governance of collective action particularly challenging.  

Aim: With this workshop we want to investigate how collective action across a network of diverse actors is accomplished in such situations of crisis. Our focal question is: how can a collective of actors organize their capacity to act and make decisions in situations of crisis? 

Conceptual orientation:The project explores collective action as form of collaboration and coordination beyond the well-worn modes of the state, market and hierarchy. With the concept of collective action we zoom in on how heterogeneous networks of actors that transcend organizational and institutional boundaries address crisis situations. Key questions include how the collective develops a sense of purpose and identity, a shared strategic direction, and sustains coherence in action. We seek to explore the institutional, organizational and strategic forces that enable and/or constrain effective collective action and its governance. 

With crisis we delimit the empirical setting that we are interested in. We are inspired by the original meaning of the Greek word ‘crisis’ – which derives from krínein– meaning to decide and to incise: the crisis is the moment of decision, a radical interruption of temporality resulting in a loss of orientation that forces a decision which divides the flow of events into a before and after. In this sense, crisis situations are not only low-probability, high-impact events such as disasters, fires, or earthquakes; with the focus on crisis as decision-making under extreme contingency we also include empirical contexts addressing organizing under high uncertainty, in extreme contexts, or grand challenges.   

Possible questions we want to pursue include:

  • Management practices: what are the routines, practices, technologies, plans, etc. through which crisis situation are managed? 
  • Decision-making: How does decision-making within a network of actors sustain collective action during situations of crisis?
  • Polycentricity: How is coordination made possible under conditions of polycentric governance? 
  • Sensemaking: How do interfaces and technologies harness cognition distributed across networks? 
  • Performance: How is performance across the network evaluated, given that different actors might have different evaluative practices and principles? 
  • Power: How are conflicts (between actors etc.) resolved? What are consequences (intended and unintended) of collective action? 

The event: The workshop aims to provide a space for conceptual and empirical contributions as well as reflections on methods. The workshop is developmental and welcomes papers as well as work in progress. 

We have planned a follow up workshop in Rotterdam in autumn 2019 to continue the conversation and, based on progress in Barcelona, work collectively towards a joint publication (such as a special issue or edited volume). Participation in both workshops is desirable but not mandatory. 

Organizers: The workshop is a joint venture between 

  • Corinna Frey-Heger, Assistant Professor Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University  
  • Ignasi Marti, Professor Institute of Social Innovation, ESADE, Barcelona
  • Joep Cornelissen,Professor Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University  
  • Marian Gatzweiler, Early Career Fellow University of Edinburgh Business School 
  • Martin Kornberger, Professor EM Lyon, Visiting professor WU Wien and University of Edinburgh Business School 
  • Renate Meyer, Professor WU Wien and CBS

For more information please contact Martin Kornberger kornberger@em-lyon.comor Ignasi Marti



12-1pm                                Welcome & introduction Ignasi Marti & Martin Kornberger   

1-2pm                                  Marc Ventresca Organizing collective capacity in crisis:  Analytic imageries from                                                                          commons governance and action fields

2.15-3.15pm    Arjen Boin, Collective action in the face of crisis: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina

3.30-4.30pm    Daniel Geiger, Crafting Space: The Role of Spatial Practices in Managing Refugee                                                                       Camps

4.30-5.30pm    Open discussion: developing a research agenda

                                           Drinks provided   


9-10am                                 Madeleine Rauch, Emotions, Framing, and Grand Challenges: How do individuals cope                                                             with emotional stress when working in extreme contexts?

10.15.-11.15amJohn Amis, Responding to the Homeless Crisis: Personal Drivers of Collective Action

11.30-12.30     Juliane Reinecke, title TBC 

12.30-1.30       Open discussion: developing a research agenda

                                           Conclusion of event 

                                           Fingerfood provided  


The track address a major gap in our understanding – organising for resilience in contexts that are abnormal, exceptional, or extreme. This can involve the processes of anticipating, preparing for, responding to and learning from disruptive events in order to survive and prosper.

Our specific focus is on in extreme contexts where risks of severe physical, psychological harm or material consequences threaten the viability of an organisation and the safety and well-being of its organisational members. We will explore the theoretical, methodological and practical dimensions of the topic.

Track organizers: Professor David Denyer (Cranfield University); Professor Markus Hällgren (Umeå university); Professor Martina Linnenluecke (Macquarie University); Doctor Elmar Kutsch (Cranfield University); Dr Mark Hall (Birmingham University); Doctor Hugo Marynissen (Antwerp Management School)

The EGOS SWG on Organizing in and for extreme contexts is accepted!

We just received the happy news that the EGOS Standing Working Group on “Organizing in and for Extreme Contexts” was accepted! Starting in 2020, there will be (at least) four consecutive years with themes related to Extreme contexts! There was 99 supporters that responded to the request of support of the SWG. Without you this could not have happened! Thank you so much for the support to develop the research agenda even further! Hope to see you at a (EGOS) conference!! THANK YOU!!

Markus (Hällgren) on behalf of the organizing team; Anja Danner-Schröder, Mark de Rond, Samer Faraj, Daniel Geiger, Linda Rouleau, Kathleen Sutcliffe

AoM: ‘Not another survey’: Unconventional methodology in organization and management research

Saturday 11 August 2018, 10.15 to 12.45,

Sheraton Grand Chicago, Chicago Ballroom X: sponsoring Divisions: RM, OMT

Are you interested in using novel methodologies in your research?  Or do you think that journal editors will reject your papers if you ‘break the rules’?

This PDW has three aims:

  1. to assess the case for using unconventional methodologies
  2. to explore a range of non-traditional approaches
  3. to advise researchers planning to use unconventional methods.

Most researchers stick to two or three traditional methods for data collection, like surveys and interviews.  Is novelty dangerous?  Using the same old methods runs the risk of generating the same old findings.  The formulaic, template-based nature of our publications is attracting criticism.  There have been calls for more diverse, ‘polymorphic’ approaches.  Also, our participants see our methods as boring, and we have accounts of ‘survey fatigue’.

Who should attend?  This Workshop is designed for both new and experienced researchers who want to explore fresh possibilities in methodology, as well as researchers who are actively engaged in developing non-traditional approaches to their work.  We will explore unconventional research settings, data sources, designs, and data collection methods:

radio programme archives: Laurie Cohen (Nottingham U) and Joanne Duberley (Birmingham U)

innovation in unobtrusive methods: Andrew Knight (Washington U in St Louis)

using fiction, and research in extreme contexts: David Buchanan (Cranfield U)

netnography: Manuela Nocker (Essex U)

experiments in institutional theory: Alex Bitektine (HEC Montreal)

inter-organizational ethnography: Olivier Berthod (Jacobs U Bremen)

participant-led video diaries: David Buchanan (Cranfield U)

We have designed a participative ‘presentation – buzz group – plenary’ format, ending with a Q&A panel session.  There are three take-aways:

  1. you will learn about the uses, strengths and limitations of innovative methodologies, and how these can be adapted for use in your own research
  2. you will learn how journal editors judge research using unconventional methodology
  3. based on editorial advice, you will find out how best to present work relying on unconventional methods

There is no preregistration required for this Workshop.

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago in August!

For further information about this workshop, contact the organizers:

David Buchanan

Olivier Berthod 

Andrew Knight  

EGOS sub-plenary on “Institutions in troubled times and places”

Please observe that there is a sub-plenary dedicated to “Institutions in troubled times and places” organized at @EGOS in Tallinn that is very relevant to our research interests! Please find the description below, the full flier at the bottom.

WHEN: Thursday, July 5th; 14:00-15:30

Chair panelists are Renate E. Meyer (WU Vienna, Austria), Mark de Rond (University of Cambridge, UK), Charlotte Karam (American University of Beirut, Lebanon) & Marc Ventresca (University of Oxford, UK)


In troubled times and places, such as war, refugee crisis, terrorist or cyber-attacks, or other conflicts, our standard forms of organizing and institutionalized patterns of coordination are challenged, our cultural tool kit seems outdated and limited in offering swift response, and our learned roles and identities fail to provide appropriate scripts. In this sub-plenary we question the meaning and role of institutions in such troubled times and places, and discuss whether our organization theories, and institutional theory in particular, ‘work’ in these unstable contexts, allowing to comprehend and address their needs. We ask what an institutional lens can contribute to studying such contexts and also to engaging with the concerns of those involved in them on a practical level. The sub-plenary panel will discuss challenges of conducting research, such as difficulties of data collection and ethical dilemmas, implications for theorizing, e.g. its boundary conditions and possibilities for practical relevance, and potential for mitigating practical concerns of people immersed in such contexts.

To start and frame the debate, Mark de Rond will talk about practical and ethical issues of doing fieldwork in difficult contexts and the ‘usefulness’ of an institutional perspective. Charlotte Karam will talk about the challenges of doing research on emergent crises in the context of protracted instability, emphasizing the need to better theorize the salience of informality, and, from a more practical perspective, the need to more closely consider the ethical considerations of “research waste”. Marc Ventresca will consider complex institutional contexts as settings for research activity and how these contexts both change research practice and conduce to the focus on inhabited institutions.


Link to EGOS page

SWG for EGOS submitted

Thank you everyone that have supported the initiate to make #extremecontexts to a Standing Working Group at EGOS. We are overwhelmed by the support, 99 researchers from all the world took the time to help out! Really appreciate your help! Now we can only but trust the process, keep your fingers crossed!

REPORT:: Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking

A new global study by BSI (British Standards Institution) and Cranfield School of Management, finds that business leaders are struggling to balance risk with opportunity, threatening the long-term survival of their firms. The report, “Organizational Resilience: A summary of academic evidence, business insights and new thinking”, assesses half a century’s accepted wisdom on best-practice management, identifying an acute need for firms to embrace risk if they are to survive and thrive.

TEACHING RESOURCE: K2 – against all odds

A simulation on mindful leadership, based on the Events on K2 in 2008 developed at Cranfield University by the Leading Complex Change group and TripleEd at Umeå university.

K2, sometimes called Savage Mountain, is located on the Pakistan-China border.  It has the highest fatality rate of any mountain in the world, with approximately one in four climbers not making it back alive. One of the challenges of K2 is its sustained technical difficulty; its face is characterised by more than 45 degree angles with a rocky and icy surface, combined with sudden life-threatening changes in weather conditions. Climbers assemble at the base camp to attempt to summit this majestic mountain each year, typically between June and August.

Clearly most managers do not face challenges of this magnitude in their day-to-day work. However, by looking at such extremes we can identify concepts that can be applied valuably in more benign environments.

Johansson et al (2018) – At the external boundary of a disaster response operation: The dynamics of volunteer inclusion

In the present article, practices of inclusion of different types of volunteers in the response to a large-scale forest fire in Sweden are studied. Semi- structured interviews were conducted with three types of voluntary actors. The volunteers were organized to different degrees, from members of organizations and participants in emergent groups to organizationally unaffiliated individuals. Organized volunteers were the most easily included, particularly if they were members of voluntary emergency organizations. It was difficult for volunteers lack- ing relevant organizational affiliation to be included. Disaster response operations are dynamic, conditions change over time, and tensions between different modes, degrees, and levels of inclusion may arise. However, irrespective of changing con- ditions, practices of inclusion of highly organized volunteers work best.

Free access here