Sub-theme 44: Marxist Organization Studies

Paul S. Adler
University of Southern California, USA
Christopher Nyland
Monash University, Australia

Call for Papers

In 2018, we aim to build on the success of the Marxist studies sub-themes at seven previous EGOS Colloquia: in bringing together people who share an interest in drawing on Marx’s ideas to advance management and organization studies.
The organizers of the EGOS 2018 Colloquium in Tallinn have called for papers on the theme “Surprise in and around Organizations: Journeys to the Unexpected”, i.e. on how surprise shapes the character and actions of organizations and the process of organizing. This sub-theme takes up this invitation by providing space for reflection on the contribution of Marxist-inspired organization studies to understanding why actors are surprised by rather predictable events, and why others are not surprised when circumstances warrant surprise. With its emphasis on human agency (“praxis”) and class struggle, the role of institutions and deep structures, and the context in which organizations and actors function, Marxist work is particularly well placed to contribute to the examination of these phenomena.
We particularly welcome papers that address the following questions:

  • Why dominant elites have been surprised by the rise of powerful movements – from the radical left as from a resurgent populist right – against neoliberal forms of enterprise, and how they have responded to this surprise

  • Why scholars in the field of management and organization studies have been surprised that capitalist organizations have lost much of their capacity to sustain growth, profitability and prosperity, and how organizations and theorists have responded to this surprise

  • How working people are making sense of the surprising collapse of established opportunity structures

  • Asia’s surprising re-emergence as a powerful challenger to the dominance of Western powers and of Western ideas of effective organization

  • Why an era of austerity has, to our surprise, not prompted an increase in the popularity of Marxist organization studies

We are not dogmatic in an attachment to any specific kind of Marxism. Indeed, all kinds are welcome and we also welcome non-Marxists those who wish to critique Marxist analysis. In previous years our sub-theme has enjoyed lively debate spanning a wide range of approaches. Some scholars have sought to integrate insights from organization studies into a Marxist framework, while others have examined how Marxist insights may fruitfully add analytical value to other research traditions.

We invite contributions that either (a) enrich our understanding of the empirical world of organizations based on Marxist theoretical foundations, or (b) enrich Marxist theory in a way that promises deeper understanding of that world.

Paul S. Adler teaches at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, USA. His research currently focuses on complex organizations and on environmental sustainability.
Christopher Nyland is Professor of Management at Monash University, Australia. His research interests include work and workplace relations, the evolution of management thought, and the management of education in China.