Sub-Plenary 2-3

Infrastructure and Inclusion: Organizations and Inequality in Books, Banks, Broadband, and Bridges


Friday, July 5, 2024, 16:00–17:30 CEST

U6 Building – “AGORÀ” | Room: U6-P-1-02 | Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo, 1 | 20126 Milano

Christof Brandtner, emlyon business school, France
Diana Jue-Rajasingh, Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University, USA
Martin Kornberger, WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
Daniel Armanios, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Nicole P. Marwell, Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice, University of Chicago, USA
Marc Schneiberg, Reed College, Portland, USA
Silviya Svejenova, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Infrastructure has the power to both narrow and widen divides, connecting people through physical and digital structures while also serving as a tool for exclusion. From the construction of buildings and parks that create spaces for social interactions (Klinenberg, 2018), to bridges and roads that connect neighborhoods and cities into networks of innovation (Saxenian, 1996), to public busses that transport the poorest to work, to wires and code that democratize access to information, infrastructure is a crucial component of a connected and resilient society (Barberio et al., 2018; Shaw & Harigatti, 2018).

At the same time, infrastructure is a material representation of organizational and political interests, and when these interests are skewed, infrastructure can be used to exclude certain groups. Interstate highways divide neighbors into rich and poor, tunnels under bridges can be built to allow clearance to cars while keeping busses out (Jones & Armanios, 2020; Dutta et al., 2022), VIP busses to the pristine campuses of technology companies can substitute public transportation (Brandtner, Kornberger, & Douglas, 2022), and internet can be regulated to be blazing fast for some students while their colleagues are still loading the page (Porter, 2021).
Whether infrastructure is a tool of inclusion or exclusion, as an expression of taken-for-granted institutions and vested interests, it requires organizational efforts to be constructed, maintained, and contested. This panel discussion will delve into the ways in which organizations and partnerships among civil society organizations, private developers, and city agencies produce, prevent, and privatize crucial infrastructures, and how these efforts can either foster inclusion or perpetuate exclusion (Marwell, Marantz, & Baldassarri, 2020).
All organization scholars interested in place, infrastructure, civil society, alternative forms of organizing, and the organizational and institutional underpinnings of inequality are warmly invited to attend.
Four eminent social scientists will share their cutting-edge research on the interplay between organizations and the problem of inequality in infrastructure, covering topics such as the provision of books (Svejenova), bridges (Armanios), banks (Schneiberg), and broadband internet across social strata (Marwell).


  • Barberio, V., Höllerer, M.A., Meyer, R.E., & Jancsary, D. (2018): “Organizational Boundaries in Fluid Forms of Production: The Case of Apache Open-source Software.” In: Toward Permeable Boundaries of Organizations? Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 57. Leeds: Emerald Publishing Limited, 139–168.
  • Kornberger, M., Bowker, G.C., Elyachar, J., Mennicken, A., Miller, P., Nucho, J.R., & Pollock, N. (eds.) (2019): Thinking Infrastructures. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 62. Leeds: Emerald Publishing Limited.
  • Brandtner, C., Kornberger, M.,& Douglas, G. (2023): “Where Relational Commons Take Place: The City and its Social Infrastructure as Sites of Commoning.” Journal of Business Ethics, 184, 917–932.
  • Dutta, S., Armanios, D.E., & Desai, J.D. (2022): “Beyond spatial proximity: The impact of enhanced spatial connectedness from new bridges on entrepreneurship.” Organization Science, 33 (4), 1620–1644.
  • Jones, S.H., & Armanios, D.E. (2020): “Methodological framework and feasibility study to assess social equity impacts of the built environment.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 146 (11), 05020016.
  • Klinenberg, E. (2018): Palaces for the People. How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life. New York: Crown Publishing Group.
  • Marwell, N.P., Marantz, E.A., & Baldassarri, D. (2020): “The microrelations of urban governance: Dynamics of patronage and partnership.” American Journal of Sociology, 125 (6), 1559–1601.
  • Porter, E. (2021): “A Rural-Urban Broadband Divide, but Not the One You Think Of.” The New York Times, June 2, 2021.
  • Saxenian, A. (1996): Regional Advantage. Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Shaw, A., & Hargittai, E. (2018): “The pipeline of online participation inequalities: The case of Wikipedia editing.” Journal of Communication, 68 (1), 143–168.

Daniel Armanios is BT Professor and Chair of Major Programme Management at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. He will present his work on how physical infrastructure, such as bridges and streets, help in organizational search.
Christof Brandtner is Assistant Professor of Social Innovation at emlyon business school, France.
Diana Jue-Rajasingh is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, USA.
Martin Kornberger is Professor of Business Ethics at WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria.
Nicole P. Marwell, Associate Professor at the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice at the University of Chicago, USA, will present work on broadband internet as a tool for inclusive urban governance in the City of Chicago.
Marc Schneiberg, John C. Pock Professor of Sociology at Reed College, USA, will present on how different banking ecologies avoid or engage minority communities.
Silviya Svejenova is Professor in the Department of Organization at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. She will speak about the role of public libraries in providing both books and collaborative spaces.