Sub-theme 11: The Works of Branding: Shaping Organizational Identities and Practices

Martin Kornberger
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Dan Kärreman
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and Lund University, Sweden
Majken Schultz
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Call for Papers

Inspired by EGOS' 2011 theme Reassembling Organizations, we propose a track that explores and exploits a new form of organizational assemblage – the brand. The proposed track invites scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to present ideas on the work of branding as it unfolds in private and public organizations. We suggest a holistic approach towards brands: brands are aesthetic expressions of organizational identity; increasingly, especially in service and knowledge intensive organizations, the brand is linked back to the organization's culture. Simultaneously, brands relate organizations to their external environments: they are the building blocks of lifestyle-driven consumer society. In so doing, brands link the sphere of production and consumption, transforming both management practice and society at large.

While we are interested in exploring the practices of branding, and follow their traces as they traverse the organization and its relationships to its multiple stakeholders, we are curious to learn how brands emerge from and impact on organizational identity, culture and other key concepts of organizational theory. Doing so we push an interdisciplinary agenda: we attempt to explore how organization theory can contribute to our understanding of brands and how branding can contribute to organization theory, with the aim to facilitate an interdisciplinary dialogue. Following this approach we propose to explore some of the following research questions:

  • How do brands impact on both production (organization) and consumption (lifestyle)? How are external and internal affects of branding related?
  • How can we describe practices of branding? How is branding work accomplished? Who are the people involved in branding work? What are the tools, techniques and theories-in-action that they use? How do they perform their work?
  • How does the relatively new practice of brand management impact on other organizational structures and practices? How does branding interact with other organizational functions such as strategy, marketing or HRM? How does the brand interact with networks and other more fluid organizational structures?
  • How does the brand impact on and emerge from organizational and other collective identities (e.g. professional and occupational)? How does the management of meaning, accomplished, negotiated and contested in the brand, shape sensemaking of internal and external stakeholders?
  • How are external stakeholders involved in the co-creation of the brand? What are the implications for brand management of increasing stakeholder involvement in branding processes?
  • How does branding work in a global setting, where multiple identities assemble and connect to create brand meaning? What is the role of the heritage of brands in shifting cultural contexts?
  • How can we study brands critically to find out in how far they exercise power upon their internal and external environment by using and manipulating symbols and perceptions? How can branding be mobilized for managerial control and how can this be resisted?

We are looking for theoretically innovative and/or empirically interesting papers that are inspired (but not confined) by the research questions above. We would like to encourage submissions that provide answer to the question: how can the concept of brand re-invigorate the debate in organization theory? What new avenues for research does the concept delineate? We hope that contributions from diverse fields of scholarships including identity theory, corporate communication, design, discourse analysis, cultural studies, marketing, organization theory and others, will help to question taken for granted assumptions and offer surprising perspectives. In doing so, we want to ensure a truly interdisciplinary discussion that will open up new avenues for research.


Martin Kornberger 
Dan Kärreman 
Majken Schultz