Sub-theme 76: Theorizing Organizing in ‘Historically Marginalized Societies’: Embracing, Calibrating or Distancing from Mainstream Organizational and Management Theories? --> HYBRID!

Sofiane Baba
University of Sherbrooke, Canada
Innan Sasaki
Warwick Business School, United Kingdom
Taieb Hafsi
HEC Montréal, Canada

Call for Papers

Historically marginalized societies are those societies that have experienced oppression, marginalization, and cultural genocide from a more dominant force at some point in their recent history through colonization, wars, and other forms of domination (e.g., Baba, Sasaki, & Vaara, 2021). Despite gaining their freedom and independence, many of these societies are coping with historical marginalization’s long-term psychological and sociological effects (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015). As a result, these societies continue to be tied with colonial legacy and institutions imposed by the dominant force while deliberately ignoring local identities. This situation generates strong tensions for these societies as they seek to (re)imagine their future ideal society as characterized by their unique identity and values (Djilali, 2017). It is all people’s right to be valued for who they are and for the cultural values and traditions they uphold. However, history and today’s society show that such fundamental human right is not always respected. In this vein, this sub-theme delves into the theorization of organizing in historically marginalized societies where cultural survival is vital, both in developing and developed countries. In particular, this sub-theme seeks to understand how actors navigate through these historical legacies, how they become who they really are, and how they try to influence the future of their society.
These societies are scattered worldwide, from the First Nations of Canada to those of Australia, from Northern Africa to Southern Africa, including Latin American countries and many more. These societies tend to have strong ontological differences from the Western view, i.e., circular view of time rather than linear, a strong role of traditions, religious beliefs and spirituality, collectivist societies rather than individualistic (Baba & Fortin-Lefebvre, 2021; Cilliers, 2018). While they are different, these societies are also simultaneously searching for themselves and their uniqueness (Stora, 2021). Historically marginalized societies have lost both material and symbolic resources due to colonization, wars, and other forms of domination (Bourdieu, 1962). Such loss is often followed by coping mechanisms like mourning, resistance, escaping, or accepting and adapting to survive (e.g., Alkhaled & Sasaki, 2021; Martí & Fernández, 2013). However, these losses have long-lasting effects, which scholars are still discovering. From what we know, they lead to instability in the society marked by historically deeply rooted ideological and political conflicts, to institutional voids, and overall, to identity issues (Harbi, 2001). But a common objective in these societies is usually the struggle to culturally survive and uphold their unique traditions, cultures, and way of life while being influenced by more dominant cultural values and systems, especially emanating from the dominant forces and former colonizers (Fortin-Lefebvre & Baba, 2021).
The Age of Enlightenment, the pivotal period of modernity, is probably still central to our vision of management and organizations: effectiveness, efficiency, rationality being the mottoes. In this quest to rationalize the behavior of organizations, management, and organizational theories have never been so abundant and popular. Paradoxically, these theories have never been so criticized for their questionable utility, the process that shapes them (Filatotchev, Ireland, & Stahl, 2022), their Western hegemony (Bruton et al., 2022), and their impacts on ecosystems (Parker, 2002). We build on Petriglieri’s (2020) insight that we need to put “to rest the way we conceive and portray and practice management” and that we “need a truly human management, one that makes room for our bodies and spirits alongside our intellect and skills”.
All in all, theoretically, it is worthwhile theorizing how actors in such historically marginalized societies organize themselves because management and organization theories remain considerably colored by Western realities and phenomena and this, for a long time (Kiggundu, Jørgensen, & Hafsi, 1983). Overall, we are interested in studies from around the world that explore and unpack how the culture, worldviews, and everyday life (individual, social and institutional) of historically marginalized contexts (re)shape our understanding of organizing and organizations. More specifically, with such an idea in mind, we suggest (but should not be limited to) the following possible research questions. Empirical, conceptual, as well as methodological papers are welcomed.
Cultural survival

  • What effects does the tension between modernity and tradition generate in historically marginalized societies? How does it affect organizations and the act of organizing?

  • What is the role of religion and spirituality in organizations and organizing in historically marginalized societies?

  • How do collectivist and traditional realities of historically marginalized contexts shape actors’ view of the Good Life and the role of businesses in society?

The “extremeness” of historically marginalized societies

  • How do organizational actors manage to survive and thrive in historically marginalized contexts considering the often-extreme nature of these contexts (corruption, lack of democracy, failed states, etc.)?

  • What is the role of spatiality and the territory in the way actors try to survive in extreme environments?

Colonial legacies

  • How do colonial legacies in various contexts generate enduring effects on institutions and organizations?

  • How do turbulent identity, culture, and history affect actors’ contributions to society and organizational structure dynamics?

Methods to study historically marginalized contexts

  • Should we, and how can we adapt our methodological tools to study historically marginalized societies which also have extreme-nature characteristics (e.g., ethics, trust)?

  • How can art-related (e.g., theatre, music) and oral traditions (e.g., traditional story-telling, fables and wisdom sayings) be used to give life to, and provide insights into the challenges of these settings?



  • Alkhaled, S., & Sasaki, I. (2021): “Syrian Women Refugees: Coping with indeterminate liminality during forcible displacement.” Organization Studies, first published online on August 3, 2021,
  • Baba, S., & Fortin-Lefebvre, E. (2021): “Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Marginal Ontologies and Sustainable Development Goals.” In: W. Leal Filho, A.M. Azul, L. Brandli, A.L. Salvia, & T. Wall (eds.): Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Cham: Springer,
  • Baba, S., Sasaki, I., & Vaara, E. (2021): “Increasing Dispositional Legitimacy: Progressive Legitimation Dynamics in a Trajectory of Settlements.” Academy of Management Journal, 64 (6), 1–46.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1962): The Algerians. Boston: Beacon Press.
  • Bruton, G.D., Zahra, S.A., Van de Ven, A.H., & Hitt, M.A. (2022): “Indigenous Theory Uses, Abuses, and Future.” Journal of Management Studies, 59 (4), 1057–1073.
  • Cilliers, J. (2018): “The Kairos of karos: revisiting notions of temporality in Africa.” Stellenbosch Theological Journal, 4 (1), 113–132.
  • Djilali, S. (2017): La Société Algérienne: Choix de la Modernité, Crise des Valeurs et des Croyances. Algiers, Algeria: Jil Jadid Editions.
  • Filatotchev, I., Ireland, R.D., & Stahl, G.K. (2022): “Contextualizing Management Research: An Open Systems Perspective.” Journal of Management Studies, 59 (4), 1036–1056.
  • Fortin-Lefebvre, E., & Baba, S. (2021): “Indigenous Entrepreneurship and Organizational Tensions: When Marginality and Entrepreneurship Meet.” Management International, 25 (5), 151–170.
  • Harbi, M. (2001): Une Vie Debout : Mémoires Politiques, Tome 1: 1945–1962. Paris: La Découverte.
  • Kiggundu, M.N., Jørgensen, J.J., & Hafsi, T. (1983): “Administrative Theory and Practice in Developing Countries: A Synthesis.”, Administrative Science Quarterly, 28 (1), 66–84.
  • Martí, I., & Fernández, P. (2013): “The Institutional Work of Oppression and Resistance: Learning from the Holocaust.” Organization Studies, 34 (8), 1195–1223.
  • Parker, M. (2002): Against Management: Organization in the Age of Managerialism. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  • Petriglieri, G. (2020): “Are Our Management Theories Outdated?” Harvard Business Review, June 18, 2020; available at:
  • Stora, B. (2021): Les Questions Mémorielles Portant sur la Colonisation et la Guerre d’Algérie, available at:
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015): Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, available at:
Sofiane Baba is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Sherbrooke, Canada. His current research focuses on strategic management, legitimation, and change, whether organizational, social or institutional. Sofiane has published many peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, encyclopedia articles, and case studies. His work mainly examines phenomena at the interface of organizations, society and institutions, with interest in sustainability and social issues.
Innan Sasaki is an Associate Professor in Organisation Studies at Warwick Business School, UK. She is interested in the theories of cultural reproduction, collective memory, and traditions in organizations and fields. Innan studies long-living and heritage-based craft firms, refugees, and indigenous people to understand how they culturally survive. Her work has received best paper awards and is published in leading peer-reviewed journals.
Taieb Hafsi is the Strategy and Society Professor of Management at HEC Montréal, Canada. He has written numerous articles and books dealing with strategic management and change. Taïeb’s work has been published in most major journals, including ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘British Journal of Management’, and ‘Journal of Management Studies’.