Sub-theme 38: Organizing for the Future through Practices of Interorganizational Collaboration

Kristina Lauche
Radboud University, The Netherlands
Hans Berends
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Paul R. Carlile
Boston University, USA

Call for Papers

As actors seek to organize for the future, they increasingly reach out to potential partners beyond their organizational boundaries or form new, distributed forms of organizing. Some of these efforts aim to address grand challenges or meta-problems (Hardy et al., 2006) with complex ramifications that affect a broad range of stakeholders, such as sustainable development, energy, water, or universal access to education. Other collaborations are driven by the opportunities that new digital technologies and open forms of innovation offer to develop new products and services (Sydow et al., 2012). These forms of organizing across boundaries create ‘collaborative advantage’ (Huxham & Vangen, 2005) by bringing together knowledge, actors, and various forms of technological and financial resources to accomplish a goal that would not be achievable from the perspective of a single organization.
However, accomplishing collaboration across organizational boundaries is not easy. It involves different kinds of actors from individual contributors to companies, third-party developers and communities as partners. Interorganizational boundaries may coincide with differences in understanding and doing that challenge cross-boundary integration (Carlile, 2002). Collaborations are often open-ended and ever evolving (Garud et al., 2008) with fluid and temporary participation (Dobusch et al., 2019; Majchrzak et al., 2018). For novel, complex projects external collaboration may be necessary to even define which resources might be needed, making internal strategizing and collaboration closely linked (Deken et al., 2018).
Building on the previous four rounds of this sub-theme, we aim to investigate how actors address collaboration challenges as they organize for the future. We seek to bring together scholars who take a process and practice lens to study how collaboration emerges, develops, and changes over time. Acknowledging that collaboration is fluid rather than stable, we seek to address questions about forms of multivocality and distributed experimentation in bringing together diverse stakeholders (Ferraro et al., 2015).
Questions that may be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How do actors create momentum and access resources for collaboration?

  • How are interorganizational practices initiated, maintained, negotiated and transformed over time?

  • How do intra-organizational practices and interorganizational practices interact?

  • What role does technology play in the design and emergence of interorganizational practices?

  • How are activities in interorganizational collaborations coordinated and governed between organizations, in particular if they involve actors from diverse settings with different time horizons, logics or forms of accountability such as start-up firms, government bodies, multinationals and NGOs?

  • How can we theorize the role of institutional and geographical distance in such collaboration?



  • Carlile, P.R. (2002): “A Pragmatic View of Knowledge and Boundaries: Boundary Objects in New Product Development.” Organization Science, 13 (4), 442–455.
  • Deken, F., Berends, H., Lauche, K., & Gemser, G. (2018): “Strategizing and the Initiation of Interorganizational Collaboration through Prospective Resourcing.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (5), 1920–1950.
  • Dobusch, L., Dobusch, L., & Müller-Seitz, G. (2019): “Closing for the Benefit of Openness? The case of Wikimedia’s open strategy process.” Organization Studies, 40 (3), 343–370.
  • Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015): “Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited.” Organization Studies, 36 (3), 363–390.
  • Garud, R., Jain, S., & Tuertscher, P. (2008): “Incomplete by Design and Designing for Incompleteness.” Organization Studies, 29 (3), 351–371.
  • Hardy, C., Lawrence, T., & Phillips, N. (2006): “Swimming with sharks: Creating strategic change through multi-sector collaboration.” International Journal of Strategic Change Management, 1 (1/2), 96–112.
  • Huxham, C., & Vangen, S. (2005): Managing to Collaborate: The Theory and Practice of Collaborative Advantage. London: Routledge.
  • Majchrzak, A., Griffith, T.L., Reetz, D.K., & Alexy, O. (2018): “Catalyst Organizations as a New Organization Design for Innovation: The Case of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.” Academy of Management Discoveries, 4 (4), 472–496.
  • Sydow, J., Windeler, A., Schubert, C., & Möllering, G. (2012): “Organizing R&D Consortia for Path Creation and Extension: The Case of Semiconductor Manufacturing Technologies.” Organization Studies, 33 (7), 907–936.
Kristina Lauche is the Chair of Organizational Development and Design at Nijmegen School of Management, Radboud University, The Netherlands. Her research addresses how actors outside senior management pursue change and create momentum across organizational boundaries using practice and process approaches. Kristina’s work has been published in journals such as ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Management Information Systems Quarterly’.
Hans Berends is Professor of Innovation and Organization in the Knowledge, Information and Innovation (KIN) Research group at VU Amsterdam, The Netherlands. His current research interests concern process dynamics of innovation, interorganizational collaboration, and digital innovation. Hans’ work has been published in leading journals including ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘Journal of Management Studies’.
Paul R. Carlile is Associate Professor of Management and Information Systems and the Senior Associate Dean for Innovation at Boston University Questrom School of Business, USA. His work focuses on how the boundaries between different types of knowledge can be managed to more effectively drive collaboration, innovation and change. Paul has published in journals such as ‘Organization Science’, ‘Management Science’, and ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’.