PDW-05 [SWG-10]: Academia and Civil Society: Rethinking Expectations, Practices and Tensions

Christopher Wickert
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Arno Kourula
University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Salla Laasonen
Stanford University, USA, & University of Turku, Finland

Call for Applications



As academics, we tend to spend too much time researching civil society, instead of engaging with it. When business school scholars do engage with practitioners, it tends to be restricted to the corporate sector, deriving some sort of managerial implications. In this pre-Colloquium Paper Development Workshop (PDW), we invite scholars interested in rethinking the relationship between civil society and academia. In light of the environmental and social problems we face and that cry out for repair: is it enough if we continue treating civil society simply as a fascinating object of research? Or do we need to reimage our role as scholars with relation to civil society, and rethink the implications of our research?

To answer these questions, we need to start to sincerely engage with civil society, and potentially less so with theoretical gap-spotting in mind. For this workshop, we will gather a crowd of scholars from junior and senior levels and confront them with invited representatives of selected civil society organizations. Together, we will seek to find out what it is that civil society expects from us as academics and what we can potentially deliver.


Questions that we seek to discuss and answer in this workshop include the following:

  • What holds us back from engaging with, rather than researching about civil society?
  • Should we reconsider the „managerial“ implications part of our research?
  • What would count as impactful research from the perspective of civil society?

The expected outcomes of this PDW shall include practically-informed engagement strategies for researchers on how to reach out to civil society. Also, we will discuss academically-informed engagement strategies for civil society on how to reach out to academics.

This PDW will be based on interactive discussion groups and stimuli delivered by participants. Invited senior scholars will participate in the discussions and share their views. Importantly, we will also invite several NGO/civil-society representatives to challenge our views and engage in discussion. We seek for a group of about 35 participants.


The workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 09:00am–15:30pm.


Guests (preliminary)




All scholars interested in participating in this debate are invited to apply. However, preference will be given to early career scholars such as assistant professors, post-docs, and PhD students who are interested in the broader field of business & society, civil society, social movements, corporate social responsibility or related topics.

Please submit – via the EGOS website! – a single document of application (.doc, .docx or .pdf file) that includes:

  • On the first page: a short letter of application containing full details of name, address (postal address, phone and email), and affiliation
  • CV including list of publications and/or work in progress
  • Short and possibly provocative essay (1–2 pages text or a few slides PowerPoint) in which you address one of the above mentioned questions


Criteria for selection are:

  1. originality of ideas in essay;
  2. existing and potential future impact in the field of business and society;
  3. research focus and geographical location (to achieve diversity according to the EGOS 2014 Colloquium theme).


Christopher Wickert is an Assistant Professor at VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Prior, he was a research and teaching fellow at University of Zurich and St. Gallen and completed his PhD at University of Lausanne in Switzerland. His primary research interests focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and in particular determinants of CSR behaviour, such as firm size, identity orientation, and micro-practices of CSR managers. He is also interested in Critical Management Studies (CMS), business ethics, social entrepreneurship, and philosophy of science. Christopher's research has appeared in journals such as 'Business & Society', 'Human Relations', 'Journal of Business Ethics' and 'Organization Studies'.
Arno Kourula is an Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Business School, The Netherlands. Prior to UvA, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University in the U.S. and a research project manager at Aalto University in Finland. His primary research interests are corporate responsibility and cross-sector interaction. Arno's research has appeared in journals such as 'Business Ethics Quarterly', 'Business & Society', 'Corporate Governance', 'Energy Policy', 'Journal of Business Ethics', 'Journal of World Business' and 'Research Policy'.
Salla Laasonen is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University, USA. She is also a post-doctoral researcher at Turku School of Economics at the University of Turku in Finland, and starting September 2014 an Assistant Professor at Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) at Erasmus University, The Netherlands. Her primary research interests are corporate responsibility, cross-sector interaction, stakeholder engagement, and stakeholder dialogue. Salla’s research has appeared in journals such as 'Business & Society', 'Journal of Business Ethics' and 'Corporate Governance'.