Sub-theme 44: Valuation, Strategy and Organization

Laure Cabantous
Cass Business School, City, University of London, United Kingdom
Liliana Doganova
MINES ParisTech, France
Martin Kornberger
emlyon business school, France

Call for Papers

In line with the theme of the 35th EGOS colloquium on Enlightening the Future, this sub-theme proposes to investigate the relationship between organization, strategy and valuation. The sub-theme suggests studying this relationship from a specific angle: that is, investigating how practices and processes of valuation frame and are framed by political shifts, technological advancements, novel forms of organizing, and how they impact on the way we strategize and make decisions. From a scholarly perspective, the objective of the proposed sub-theme is to bring together organization studies, research on strategy and the sociology of valuation (Beckert & Asper, 2011; Helgesson & Muniesa, 2013; Lamont, 2012; Stark, 2011; Boltanski & Thévenot, 2006).
The motivation of hosting such an encounter is that value and valuation practices are at the heart of organizations and strategy making (think value creation, value network, cultural values, pricing etc.) – yet despite this ubiquity, these notions are under-theorized and little researched. The relationship between valuation, strategy and organization has received little attention from scholars (see e.g., Kornberger et al., 2015 for some exceptions). Hence, we ask a three-fold question:

  1. What are the mechanisms, processes and practices of valuation?

  2. How do valuations impact on strategy and decision-making practices?

  3. How do valuations transform organizations and enable alternative forms of collective action?

Overall, we are interested in exploring the relationships between valuation, organizing processes and strategy practices. These relationships are likely to be multiple and complex. One might expect, for example, that different forms of valuation entail different types of organizing and forms of organization. The compatibility between the forms of organization inherited from the past – such as hierarchy and the corporation – and emergent values and matters of concern – such as open strategy (Hautz et al., 2017), participatory decision-making, non-hierarchical (flat) organization, or corporate social responsibility – is increasingly questioned. The rising importance of evaluation for making decisions, such as performance evaluation or online evaluation platforms (Orlikowski & Scott, 2014), is likely to transform organizing processes and strategy practices. Valuation devices can act as organizing devices, but little is known about the kind of organizational work that they do and their effects on strategy: for example, do they help actors build common understanding and achieve agreement, or are they no more than an instrument for legitimation? Do they foster innovation and debate, or do they reproduce dominant power structures and beliefs? These are some, but certainly not all, of the possible relationships between valuation, strategy and organization that we would like to explore in this sub-theme.
We welcome empirical papers grounded in various theoretical perspectives that examine valuation practices across organizations and in strategy making. We are especially interested in sites or moments (Berthoin Antal et al., 2015; Kornberger et al., 2015) in which valuation practices become problematic, are questioned, require justification, or are involved in struggles over legitimacy, thus making visible fundamental agreements or disagreements about what counts and how it should count. Examples of such sites and moments may include but are not limited to:

  • “Atypical” organizations, where atypical may refer to organizational forms such as heterarchy (Stark, 2009); organizational missions, as in hybrid organizations (Battilana & Dorado, 2010); or modes of intervention, like for organizations that act in situations of emergency (Cefaï, 2015)

  • The transfer of valuation practices and devices across heterogeneous organizational contexts: e.g., cases of merger and acquisition, restructuring, the adoption by public sector organizations of metrics and processes developed in the private sector (e.g., Kurunmaki & Miller, 2011)

  • The interplay of valuation, strategy practice and other forms of value (co-)creation in which a variety of actors collaborate. We are interested in how far valuation practices (such as ratings on platforms) structure co-creation, and, more broadly, how this relation allows rethinking the central notion of value in strategy scholarship (see Kornberger, 2017)

  • Moments of crisis or emergency, in which organizations are led to question and reinvent the ways in which they value their activities and the “values” which they hold dear (Steyer & Gilbert, 2013)

  • Organizations routinely involved in valuation and where conflicts over value(s) are likely to be staged, such as or courts (Fourcade, 2011), government agencies (Espeland, 1998), or consultancy firms (Bourgoin, 2015)

To conclude, this sub-theme on valuation, strategy and organization is an invitation to study valuation, as it happens in organizations, by considering sites and moments of valuation, but also power and expertise dynamics around valuation practices, and the roles of artefacts (e.g., rankings, algorithms) in modalities of valuation.


  • Battilana, J., & Dorado, S. (2010): “Building sustainable hybrid organizations: The case of commercial microfinance organizations.” Academy of Management Journal, 53 (6), 1419–1440.
  • Beckert, J., & Aspers, P. (eds.) (2011): The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Berthoin Antal, A., Hutter, M., & Stark, D. (2015): Moments of Valuation: Exploring Sites of Dissonance. Oxford University Press.
  • Boltanski, L., & Thevenot, L. (2006 [1991]): On Justification. Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Bourgoin, A. (2015): Les Equilibristes: Une Ethnographie du Conseil en Management. Paris: Presses des Mines.
  • Cefaï, D. (2015): “Outreach Work in Paris: A Moral Ethnography of Social Work and Nursing with Homeless People.” Human Studies, 38 (1), 137–156.
  • Fourcade, M. (2011): “Cents and sensibility: Economic valuation and hte nature of ‘nature’.” American Journal of Sociology, 116 (6), 1721–1777.
  • Hautz, J., Seidl, D., & Whittington, R. (2017): “Open Strategy: Dimensions, Dilemmas, Dynamics., Long Range Planning, 50 (3), 298–309.
  • Helgesson, C.-F., & Muniesa, F. (2013): “For what it’s worth: An introduction to valuation studies.” Valuation Studies, 1 (1), 1–10.
  • Kornberger, M. (2017): “The Values of Strategy: Valuation Practices, Rivalry and Strategic Agency.” Organization Studies, 38 (12), 1753–1773.
  • Kornberger, M., Justesen, L., Madsen, A. K., & Mouritsen, J. (eds.) (2015): Making Things Valuable. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Kurunmaki, L., & Miller, P. (2011): “Regulatory hybrids: Partnerships, budgeting and modernising government.” Management Accounting Research, 22 (4), 220–241.
  • Lamont, M. (2012): “Toward a comparative sociology of valuation and evaluation.” Annual Review of Sociology, 21, 1–21.
  • Orlikowski, W.J., & Scott, S.V. (2014): “What happens when evaluation goes online? Exploring apparatuses of valuation in the travel sector.” Organization Science, 25 (3), 868–891.
  • Stark, D. (2009): The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Stark, D. (2011): “What’s valuable.” In: J. Beckert & P. Aspers (eds.): The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 319–337.
  • Steyer, V., & Gilbert, C. (2013): “Exploring the ambiguous consensus on public–private partnerships in collective risk preparation.” Sociology of Health & Illness, 35 (2), 292–303.

Laure Cabantous is Professor of Strategy and Organization at Cass Business School, City, University of London, UK. Her research agenda is organized around two main research areas: the performative power of management models and theories - that is their ability to shape the world and business practices; and practices of valuation and calculation in organizations and strategy making. Laure has also an interest in distributed cognition in organizations (i.e., how organizational actors make use of “things” to think and make decisions). Her research has been published in journals such as the ‘Journal of Management’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Human Relations’, the ‘Journal of Risk and Uncertainty’, and the ‘Journal of Behavioral Decision-Making’.
Liliana Doganova is Associate Professor at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation at MINES ParisTech, France. At the intersection of economic sociology and Science and Technology Studies, her research explores the links between valuation devices and the construction of markets. She has worked on business models, the valorization of public research, and markets for bio- and clean-technologies. Liliana has published in journals such as ‘Research Policy’, ‘Science and Public Policy’, and the ‘Journal of Cultural Economy’, and she is currently preparing a monograph on the historical sociology of “discounting” as a valuation technique.
Martin Kornberger received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Vienna in 2002. Prior to joining emlyon, he worked at the University of Technology Sydney as Associate Professor in Design and Management, and as Research Director of the Australian Creative Industry Innovation Centre; and at Copenhagen Business School as Professor for Strategy and Organization. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh Business School and a research fellow at the WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business.