Sub-theme 12: Surprising Organizations, Unexpected Outcomes: The Influence of Alternative Organizational Forms on Social Inclusion

Luciano Barin Cruz
HEC Montréal, Canada
Mário Aquino Alves
School of Business Administration of São Paulo (EAESP), FGV, Brazil
Bernard Leca
ESSEC Business School, France

Call for Papers

Alternative forms of organizing have increasingly attracted the attention of organizational researchers because of their potential to achieve social goals. While these alternative organizational forms go by different names in different literatures such as social entrepreneurship (Dacin et al., 2010), inclusive innovation (Georges et al, 2012), inclusive business (Halme et al., 2012), social business (Yunus et al., 2010), hybrid organizations (Battilana & Lee, 2014) or cooperatives (Cheney et al., 2014), they all seek to balance social mission with economic performance and they strive to find new ways of organizing and influencing social and economic development.
Our goal is to examine how these surprising alternative organizational forms contribute or fail to contribute in the improvement of social inclusion – i.e. conditions in which actors feel a sense of belonging to a society and acquire real capabilities to live with dignity and exercise their rights. While social inclusion is an important issue in development studies (e.g. Sen, 1999; De Soto, 2000) it is surprisingly almost absent from organizational research. Despite ongoing calls to explore the impact of organizations on inclusion in society, this phenomenon is mostly examined at the intra organizational level, often associated to the workforce diversity in an organization (e.g. Nkomo, 1992; Wooten, 2008).
We invite scholars to investigate the influence of alternative organizational forms in social inclusion, within and beyond the frontiers of organizations. Some studies, mainly targeting cooperative organizations and the microfinance sector, have started to move in this direction. For instance, some have considered social inclusion as the ability of impoverished or disenfranchised people to find a job or to take ownership over production means as it is the case of worker cooperatives (Paranque & Willmott, 2014; Leca et al., 2014). Others have insisted on the potential of social inclusion coming from the capacity of microfinance institutions to provide access to credit or to banking services (Boehe & Barin Cruz, 2013, Weber & Ahmad, 2014). Building on these previous experiences, we understand that social inclusion must be viewed not just as an outcome of alternative organizing, but also as an ongoing process. We advocate for the importance of analysing the ‘quality’ of social inclusion, precisely, a set of aspects that refine inclusion as an important construct in organizational studies: inclusion for whom and by whom (e.g. which actors?), where is inclusion needed (e.g. in which context?) and when is inclusion considered to be achieved (e.g. in which point in time and for how long?).
This sub-theme aims at addressing this important gap in organizational studies by documenting the theories, models and policies that could be mobilized to analyze the impact of alternative organizations on the ‘quality’ of social inclusion.

We welcome the examination of the following topics, as well as other relevant ones.

  • Which theories? How can we mobilize traditional organizational theory approaches such as institutional analysis and institutional work (e.g. Lawrence et al., 2009; Mair et al. 2012), performativity (Cabantous & Gond, 2010), research on social movements (Schneiberg et al., 2008, p. 637), strategy as practice (Vaara et al., 2012) and others to analyze the impact of alternative forms on the ‘quality’ of social inclusion? We also encourage studies discussing whether and how theories “from the South” can be reassembled with theories “from the North” to help explain the organizing of alternatives for social inclusion. For instance, how have the ideas of authors ,such as Guerreiro-Ramos (1976), Freire (2000), Ibarra-Colado (2006) contributed to the mobilization of emancipatory ideals, which in turn may reflect in the ‘quality’ of social inclusion? Which theories or representations inform alternative organizational forms in Latin American, African and Asian countries?
  • Which organizational models? A second set of questions relate to the alternative models of organizing that turn emancipatory ideals or theories into social reality. For instance, how social oriented-organizations can achieve social inclusion? What is the impact of cooperatives, hybrid organizations or social entrepreneurship in the promotion of different types of social inclusion and what is their impact on the ‘quality’ of inclusion? Is there one organizational model more prone to favour social inclusion? Importantly, what forms can social inclusion take? Are there relevant differences in the context of Latin American, African and Asian countries that would account for the need of varied organizational models?
  • Which policies? A final set of questions concerns the policies developed to favour social inclusion and the social mechanisms at work. What inclusiveness policies are efficient and which ones are not? Under which conditions can a policy adopted in the South/North be successfully translated into the North/South to improve conditions for social inclusion? How can inclusiveness policies be actually fostered to help actors establish and develop alternative forms of organizations? How can actors influence the building and the transformation of inclusiveness policies?



  • Battilana, J., & Lee, M. (2014): “Advancing Research on Hybrid Organizing –Insights from the Study of Social Enterprises.” Academy of Management Annals, 8, 397–441.
  • Boehe, D.M., & Barin Cruz, L. (2013): “Gender and Microfinance Performance: Why Does the Institutional Context Matter?” World Development, 47, 121–135.
  • Cabantous, L., & Gond, J.P. (2010): “Rational decision making as ‘performance praxis’: Explaining rationality’s eternal retour.” Organization Science, 22, 573–586.
  • Cheney, G.; Santa Cruz, I.; Peredo, A.M., & Nazareno, E. (2014): “Worker cooperatives as an organizational alternative: Challenges, achievements and promise in business governance and ownership.” Organization, 21 (5), 591–603.
  • Dacin, P.A., Dacin, M.T., & Matear, M. (2010): “Social entrepreneurship: why we don't need a new theory and how we move forward from here.” Academy of Management Perspectives, 24, 37–57.
  • De Soto, H. (2000): The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. London: Bantam Press.
  • Freire, P. (2000): Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy, and Civic Courage. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • George, G., McGahan, A.M., & Prabhu, J. (2012): “Innovation for inclusive growth: towards a theoreticalf ramework and a research agenda.” Journal Management Studies, 49 (4), 661–683.
  • Guerreiro-Ramos, A. (1976): “Theory of social systems delimitation: A preliminary statement.” Administration & Society, 8 (2), 249–272.
  • Halme, M., Lindeman, S., & Linna, P. (2012): “Innovation for inclusive business: intrapreneurial bricolage in multinational corporations.” Journal of Management Studies, 49, 743–84.
  • Ibarra-Colado, E. (2006): “Organization studies and epistemic coloniality in Latin America: thinking otherness from the margins.” Organization, 13 (4), 463–488.
  • Lawrence, T. B., Suddaby, R., & Leca, B. (2009): Institutions and Institutional Work. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Leca, B., Gond, J.-P., & Barin Cruz, L. (2014): “Building ‘Critical Performativity Engines’ for deprived communities: The construction of popular cooperative incubators in Brazil.” Organization, 21, 683–712.
  • Mair, J., Martí, I., & Ventresca, M. J. (2012): “Building Inclusive Markets in rural Bangladesh: how Intermediaries work Institutional Voids.” Academy of Management Journal, 55 (4), 819–850
  • Nkomo, S.M. (1992): “The emperor has no clothes: Rewriting “race in organizations”.” Academy of Management Review, 17 (3), 487–513.
  • Paranque, B., & Willmott, H. (2014): “Cooperatives – saviours or gravediggers of capitalism? Critical performativity and the John Lewis Partnership.” Organization, 21 (5), 604–625.
  • Schneiberg, M., King, M., & Smith, T. (2008): “Social Movements and Organizational Form: Cooperative Alternatives to Corporations in the American Insurance, Dairy, and Grain Industries.” American Sociological Review, 73, 635–667.
  • Sen, A. (1999): Development as Freedom. New York: First Anchor Books.
  • Vaara, E., & Whittington, R. (2012): “Strategy-as-Practice: Taking Social Practices Seriously.” Academy of Management Annals, 6 (1), 285–336.
  • Weber, O., & Ahmed, A. (2014): “Empowerment through Microfinance: The Relation between Loan Cycle and Level of Empowerment.” World Development, 62, 75–87.
  • Wooten, L.P. (2008): “Guest Editor’s note: breaking barriers in organizations for the purpose of inclusiveness.” Human Resource Management, 47, (2), 191–197.
  • Yunus, M., Moingean, B., & Lehmann-Ortega, L. (2010): “Building social business models: lessons from the Grameen experience.” Long Range Planning, 43 (2–3), 308–325.


Luciano Barin Cruz is Associate Professor of Management and Sustainability at HEC Montréal, Canada. His research, which investigates how management and organizational theories and practices can contribute for social and environmental inclusion, has been published in ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Organization’, ‘World Development’, ‘Business & Society’, ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, and ‘Management Decision’.
Mário Aquino Alves is the Associate Dean of the Program on Public Administration and Government at FGV-EAESP in São Paulo, Brazil. He studies CSR and corporate political activity, participation, professionalization and performance in nonprofit and public organizations. Mário has published in English in ‘Comparative Social Research’, ‘Voluntas’, and ‘Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences’ and in Portuguese journals such as ‘Revista de Administração Contemporânea (RAC)’, ‘Revista de Administração de Empresas (RAE)’, and ‘Revista de Administração Pública (RAP)’, among others.
Bernard Leca is Professor in Management Control at ESSEC Business School, France. His broad interest is in the evolution of Capitalism. His main research focuses on institutional theory and the way organizations or individuals can initiate and implement institutional change. Bernard has published in ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘Organization’, ‘Annals of the Academy of Management’. Along with Tom Lawrence and Roy Suddaby, he co-edited “Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organization” (Cambridge University Press, 2009).