Jörg Sydow

EGOS Honorary Member 2021


Laudation by Amalya L. Oliver

Dear Jörg,
Dear friends and colleagues,
Dear EGOS community,
It is an enormous honor and privilege for me to give this laudation on behalf of the EGOS Board for Professor Jörg Sydow, who so richly deserves the award of EGOS Honorary Member. Personally, Jörg has been a role model for me, not only as a brilliant scholar and innovative thinker, but also as a wise academic supporter and facilitator.


Research and Scholarship

Jörg's research is in the field of Management and Organization Studies. He is currently Professor at Freie Universität Berlin where he holds a Chair for Inter-firm Cooperation at the Department of Management. Like past recipients of the award, Jörg has contributed enormously to organization studies research through his written scholarship, but also through building institutional infrastructures for interdisciplinary research and knowledge transfer, and through his leadership in the scientific community.

I would like to describe only a few highlights of his notable career achievements.
Jörg has approached organization studies from a wide spectrum of ideas, including political science, public administration, sociology, geography, organizations and management and even medicine. He is known among students as a professor viewing “business administration as a social science”. His scholarship revolves mainly around inter-organizational relations and temporary organizations in different contexts. In these fields he has advanced a unique perspective that is qualitatively oriented, time- and history-sensitive, and practice-oriented. Theoretically, he is drawing on structuration theory, theories of organizational history, and path dependence.
Since 1988, Jörg has published many research papers in journals including Organization Studies, Organization Science, AMR, and Research Policy, along with numerous professional reports, book chapters, and books. He has been recognized with several awards for his scholarship.

What are his main contributions?

First, his piece on the structuration of networks (with Arnold Windeler) discusses the issue of reflexive agency of participants in inter-firm networks and how structures of signification, domination, and legitimation shape network processes.
In 2004, Jörg started working on temporary organizations, (with Lars Lindkvist and Robert DeFillippi). This major contribution has moved the conversation about projects and project management forward.
Another highly influential piece on interorganizational networks offered an impressive review of the literature (with Keith Provan and Amy Fish) and received the Journal of Management Scholarly Impact Award.
Similarly, his groundbreaking theoretical piece on organizational path dependence published in the Academy of Management Review in 2009 (with Georg Schreyögg and Jochen Koch), received the AMR Decade Award. These and other publications were instrumental in advancing the idea that we should study inter-organizational collaborations and temporary organizations from a relational and processual perspective in explaining their functioning and effectiveness.

Infrastructures for Interdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Transfer

Through many research grants, Jörg has not only established fruitful multidisciplinary ties and collaborations, but also has created connections to management practice. Working in the field of academic research is important, yet contribution to society at large is most valuable. Jörg has intensely engaged with practitioners in Germany to disseminate sound theoretical and empirical insights on collaborations, networks and projects by bringing his academic knowledge into the work of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology.
Similarly, his recent textbook with Elke Schüßler and Gordon Mueller-Seitz, “Managing Inter-Organizational Relations”, includes not only important theoretical perspectives on different network forms, but also presents a unique selection of case studies on networks and project management, derived from his empirical study on inter-organizational relations.

Jörg, the Person

Collaborations have been not only Jörg's research interest, but also his practice. Through multiple collaborations, Jörg has built interdisciplinary bridges between management scholarship and other disciplines.
Jörg is a generous academic who shares his knowledge and advice in many forms and has been on the editorial teams of many prominent journals in the field. In addition, he has been a dedicated organizer of conferences and workshops, including a great number of sub-themes at EGOS.
What is really impressive is his dedication to young organizational scholars. Jörg has successfully established funded research projects to provide research opportunities for many junior scholars. These projects were highly collaborative and interdisciplinary in nature, and they created socializing grounds for aspiring organization scholars. Many of his doctoral students have become known professors themselves.
In my collegial view, Jörg is innovative in his thinking and passionate about his work. It has been a great privilege for me and many other scholars to interact with him over his long career. I have met many young and bright scholars to whom Jörg has been a mentor. They all have valued his gracious mentorship and are inspired by him and his joy of giving freely of his time and expertise. He has always been sincere, reliable, open and innovative, expressing excellent scholarship and high levels of commitment to research. Most of all, he is a person of utmost integrity and modesty.
We are honoring today these most wonderful contributions that have benefited the field of organization studies as a whole.
Jörg, thank you for what you are to so many of us! The EGOS Board and the EGOS community are honored and delighted to accept you as an Honorary Member of EGOS! Please accept our warmest congratulations!