Sub-theme 21: Organizational Working Time Regimes: Exploring Dynamics of Persistence and Change

Georg Schreyögg
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, & University of Graz, Austria
Dan Kärreman
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, & Royal Holloway, University of London, UK
Blagoy Blagoev
Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Call for Papers

This sub-theme invites researchers from all over the world who study organizational working time regimes, their evolution, persistence, consequences for work-life balance, and approaches to changing them. Recent studies reveal the difficulties in advancing changes in the temporal organization of work, in particular in professional service firms which have traditionally expected their highly qualified employees to commit to a regime of long working hours, constant availability to clients and superiors, and an ever-increasing pace of work (e.g. Costas & Grey, 2012; Michel, 2011; Perlow, 1999; 2012). Such working time regimes have been widely criticized for their detrimental effects on productivity, employee well-being and gender equality in the workplace. However, reports on firms’ experiences with change initiatives reveal disappointing results (for a recent review, see Putnam et al., 2014): managerial efforts to attenuate the long hours patterns often fail, whilst the established working time regimes largely persist despite their drawbacks for individuals and companies.

This sub-theme is concerned with the reasons for such persistence, among them organizational path dependence (e.g. Sydow et al., 2009), forms of organizational control and power (e.g. Alvesson & Kärreman, 2007; Becker & Messner, 2014; Costas & Grey, 2014), gendered cultural norms (e.g. Bailyn, 2006; Williams, 2010), reified occupational identities (e.g. Ashcraft, 2013), and the use of communication technologies (e.g. Barley et al., 2011; Mazmanian et al., 2013). The sub-theme will focus especially on the mechanisms that drive processes of stability and path dependence in working time patterns; self-reinforcing processes feature prominently here. In line with the general theme of the 32nd EGOS Colloquium, the suggested sub-theme also aims to discuss how the control effects of working time regimes can be understood in terms of unobtrusive and distributed forms of power that challenge traditional dichotomies such as those between the powerful and the powerless or the controlled and the controlling (e.g. Costas & Grey, 2014; Michel, 2014).

The sub-theme invites longitudinal studies and other approaches that look at the evolution of organizational working time regimes and the social dynamics underneath their persistence and the often-failing change initiatives, which have been promoted in organizations. Thus, the sub-theme seeks to foster dialogue and exchange both through empirical inquiries and theoretical arguments related to understanding the ways in which working time regimes are constructed, enacted, stabilized and changed in organizational contexts. Exploring both stability and change provides a particularly advantageous avenue for studying the nature of time regimes as part of corporate strategy and as culturally embedded phenomena. Studies of interest would proceed on different levels of analysis (i.e. individual, organizational, industry and/or national/global levels) and explore working time regimes in multiple institutional environments.

The sub-theme particularly invites contributions that focus on one or more of the following questions:

  • How are working time regimes enacted in different organizations, industries and institutional environments?
  • What kind of organizational temporal structures (e.g. boundaries of work vs. non-work), rhythms (e.g. periods of intensive vs. non-intensive work), and orientations (e.g. concerning the past, present and future) are prevalent in different organizational contexts?
  • What are the effects of existing working time regimes for individuals, organizations and societies (e.g. in terms of work-life conflict, health, gender issues, changing demographics, etc.)?
  • How are bodies entangled in the continuous (re-)production of working time regimes? What dynamics arise when the different rhythms of bodies, families, organizations and industries meet and/or collide?
  • How do business models and corporate strategies relate to working time regimes?
  • How do working time regimes become path dependent? What role do initial conditions play in triggering such path dependence?
  • What processes and mechanisms drive the persistence and/or path dependence of working time regimes?
  • What processes and mechanisms advance change in the temporal organization of work?
  • What is the impact of organizational control and unobtrusive forms of power on the stability and/or change of working time regimes?
  • What is the relation between systemic and self-reinforcing processes, on the one hand, and individual agency, on the other, in particular when individuals do not conform to and/or resist established working time regimes?
  • What processes and interventions are most likely to succeed at modifying and/or breaking highly institutionalized working time regimes?
  • What kinds of working time regimes can foster sustainable forms of working and living?

The sub-theme intends to foster an exchange of theoretical ideas and empirical research results across those or related questions. Papers that discuss such issues, empirically or conceptually, with respect to recent or more historical developments, are cordially invited for submission.

Papers will be available in advance of the Colloquium. All paper presentations will be commented by an assigned discussant from the group. Session leaders will be asked to provide an open and encouraging atmosphere for discussion. Special discussants will be asked to summarize the discussions thereby cutting across the various papers presented. In order to allow for as much discussion as possible among the participating scholars, paper presentations will be restricted to 10–15 minutes.




  • Alvesson, M., & Kärreman, D. (2007): "Unraveling HRM: Identity, Ceremony, and Control in a Management Consulting Firm." Organization Science, 18 (4), 711–723.
  • Ashcraft, K.L. (2013): "The Glass Slipper: 'Incorporating' Occupational Identity in Management Studies." Academy of Management Review, 38 (1), 6–31.
  • Bailyn, L. (2006): Breaking the Mold. Redesigning Work for Productive and Satisfying Lives. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Barley, S.R., Meyerson, D.E., & Grodal, S. (2011): "E-mail as a Source and Symbol of Stress." Organization Science, 22 (4), 887–906.
  • Becker, S.D., & Messner, M. (2013): "Management control as temporal structuring." In: K. Kaarbøe, P.N. Gooderham & H. Nørreklit (eds.): Managing in Dynamic Business Environments. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 141–162.
  • Costas, J., & Grey, C. (2012): "Outsourcing your Life: Exploitation and Exploration in 'the 4-Hour Workweek'." In: M. Holmqvist & A. Spicer (eds.): Managing 'Human Resources' by Exploiting and Exploring People's Potentials. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 37. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 221–247.
  • Costas, J., & Grey, C. (2014): "The Temporality of Power and the Power of Temporality: Imaginary Future Selves in Professional Service Firms." Organization Studies, 35 (6), 909–937.
  • Mazmanian, M., Orlikowski, W.J., & Yates, J. (2013): "The Autonomy Paradox: The Implications of Mobile Email Devices for Knowledge Professionals." Organization Science, 24 (5), 1337–1357.
  • Michel, A.A. (2011): "Transcending Socialization. A Nine-Year Ethnography of the Body's Role in Organizational Control and Knowledge Workers Transformation." Administrative Science Quarterly, 56 (3), 325–368.
  • Michel, A.A. (2014): "Participation and Self-Entrapment. A 12-Year Ethnography of Wall Street Participation Practices' Diffusion and Evolving Consequences." The Sociological Quarterly, 55 (3), 514–536.
  • Perlow, L.A. (1999): "The Time Famine: Toward a Sociology of Work Time." Administrative Science Quarterly, 44 (1), 57–81.
  • Perlow, L.A. (2012): Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24-7 Habit and Change the Way you Work. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
  • Putnam, L.L., Myers, K.K., & Gailliard, B.M. (2014): "Examining the tensions in workplace flexibility and exploring options for new directions." Human Relations, 67, 413–440.
  • Sydow, J., Schreyögg, G., & Koch, J. (2009): "Organizational Path Dependence: Opening the Black Box." Academy of Management Review, 34 (4), 689–709.
  • Williams, J.C. (2010): Reshaping the Work-Family Debate. Why Men and Class Matter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Georg Schreyögg is currently Professor of Management and Organization Studies at the School of Business & Economics of Freie Universität (FU) Berlin, Germany, and at the School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, University of Graz, Austria. He is also the former Director of the Research Center of Organizational Path Dependence at FU Berlin. He received his two doctoral degrees from Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. He has written nine books, has edited numerous volumes and has published more than 150 articles on organization theory, leadership and corporate governance. His recent research has focused on uncertainty management, organizational path dependence and organizational capabilities.
Dan Kärreman is currently Professor of Management and Organization Studies at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, and Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. He is also affiliated to the Lumos group, Lund University, Sweden. His research interests include critical management studies, knowledge work, identity in organizations, leadership, innovation and research methodology. His work has been published in 'Academy Management Review', 'Journal of Management Studies', 'Human Relations', 'Organization', 'Organization Science', and 'Organization Studies', among others. His most recent book is "Qualitative Methodology and Theory Development: Mystery as Method "(SAGE Publications, 2011, with Mats Alvesson).
Blagoy Blagoev is currently a post-doctoral research associate at the Department of Management, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. He received his PhD in management and organization studies from Freie Universität Berlin. His research interests include organizational change and persistence, path dependence and culture in management consulting firms, and organizational temporality.