Call for Papers
Our relationship with the past is undergoing a process of change. The development of technologies such as social media
and genetic testing has created new possibilities to record and reconstruct the past with important social impacts. At the
center of these transformations, we identify a number of organizations such as Facebook and Ancestry whose work has been transforming
the way individuals and societies memorialize and engage with the past. Besides technological advances, changes in social
consciousness have also been driving the rethinking and reconceptualization of the past. Social and organizational memory
is increasingly seen as a contested terrain in which multiple actors interact to defend specific perspectives about the past.
The rise of social movements dedicated to promoting decolonization, historical justice, and equality share this understanding
that the past is not free of value and interests. These efforts usually coalesce into specific organizations such as ‘me too.’
and Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. As these examples suggest, organizations play an important role in processes
of remembering, forgetting, and reinterpreting the past.
This sub-theme explores the intersections between social and organizational memory. We use social memory to refer to the collective remembering and forgetting processes taking place in the social context in which the organization is embedded, such as nation-states or industries. We reserve organizational memory to the practices of remembering, forgetting, and representing the past shaped by managerial and professional actions and intentions within the boundaries of an organization (Foroughi et al., 2020). Studies on social memory have blossomed in fields like history, sociology, and anthropology in the past thirty years, giving rise to a new discipline of memory studies (Roediger & Wertsch, 2008). However, social memory studies typically pay little attention to organizations when explaining social mnemonics (Rowlinson et al., 2010). In management and organization studies, management scholars have long been interested in organizational memory (Levitt & March, 1988; Walsh & Ungson, 1991). But organization theorists tend to be dismissive of the importance of the environment in theorizing organizational memory, treating it instead as an organization-centric concept (Coraiola et al., 2018). The goal of this sub-theme is to bring social and organizational memory studies closer together. We focus on the impact of organizations, managers, and professionals on the dynamics of remembering and forgetting in their wider environment and its consequences for the ways in which the present and future are enacted within organizations.
Remembering is always an imperfect (re)construction of the past. Yet, the way people and organizations approach the past has major implications for the way they organize in the present for the future. This sub-theme calls attention to the presence and continuity of ideas and systems of thought (imperfectly) inherited from the past. The revived interest in the study of organizational memory has fuelled the development of a variety of promising theoretical approaches and research agendas on the practices of remembering and forgetting (Coraiola & Murcia, 2020; Foroughi et al., 2020) as well as on the uses of the past in organizations (Maclean et al., 2018; Suddaby et al., 2010; Wadhwani et al., 2018). In particular, studies have examined how managers engage with the past to promote change, redefine identities and generate competitive advantage (Anteby & Molnár, 2012; Foroughi & Al-Amoudi, 2019; Maclean et al., 2014; Oertel & Thommes, 2015; Ravasi et al., 2019; Schultz & Hernes, 2013). In tandem with these developments there has been a move to look beyond the internal mnemonics of the organization to focus on broader mnemonic processes, the role of power and politics in remembering and forgetting, and the interaction between social and organizational memory (Bastien et al., 2021; Coraiola & Derry, 2019; Mena et al., 2016; Ocasio et al., 2016).
Our attempt in this sub-theme is to start closing the gap between social memory studies and organizational memory studies. We thus invite scholars with a variety of theoretical, methodological and empirical perspectives to join us in exploring the above themes. Below is a list of possible, but not exhaustive, topics and questions:
How do organizational memories and social memories interact? Do they supplement, conflict with, or reinforce each other? What are the implications of this relationship to issues such as identity and authenticity?
How do managers and organizations use the past to manage their relationship with internal and external stakeholders? How do they manage conflicting interpretations of the past? What are the risks of developing a hegemonic version of the past?
How do organizations manage social remembering and forgetting after misbehaviour by themselves and others? What ethical obligations and responsibilities do organizations and memory professionals have in relation to the past? How do they manage the past in post-crisis and post-catastrophe societies?
How do authoritative actors, such as the state and professions, bound organizational memory processes? Can organizations escape such boundaries? How and with what consequences?
How do memory and institutions interact? Do some contexts more aptly influence the formation or reconfiguration of social memories? What is the role of power and politics in establishing the memory of institutions?
How social and organizational remembering connect past, present, and future? How social memory influences the way social actors organize for the future? How memories of the future affect the process of organizing?
How do minorities and marginalized groups construct alternative versions of the past? How do they engage in memory work against hegemonic narratives? What are the limits and possibilities of efforts to decolonize the past?
- Anteby, M., & Molnár, V. (2012): “Collective Memory Meets Organizational Identity: Remembering to Forget in a Firm’s Rhetorical History.” Academy of Management Journal, 55 (3), 515–540.
- Bastien, F., Foster, W.M., & Coraiola, D.M. (2021): “Don't talk about history. Indigenous views about the past and their implication for organization studies.” In: M. Maclean, S.R. Clegg, R. Suddaby & C. Harvey (eds.): Historical Organization Studies: Theory and Applications. London: Routledge.
- Coraiola, D.M., & Derry, R. (2019): “Remembering to Forget: The Historic Irresponsibility of U.S. Big Tobacco.” Journal of Business Ethics, 166 (2), 233–252.
- Coraiola, D.M., & Murcia, M.J. (2020): “From organizational learning to organizational mnemonics: Redrawing the boundaries of the field.” Management Learning, 51 (2), 227–240.
- Coraiola, D.M., Suddaby, R., & Foster, W.M. (2018): “Organizational Fields as Mnemonic Communities.” In: J. Glückler, R. Suddaby & R. Lenz (eds.): Knowledge and Institutions. Berlin: Springer, 13, 45–68.
- Foroughi, H., & Al-Amoudi, I. (2019): “Collective Forgetting in a Changing Organization: When memories become unusable and uprooted.” Organization Studies, 41 (4), 449–470.
- Foroughi, H., Coraiola, D.M., Rintamäki, J., Mena, S., & Foster, W.M. (2020): “Organizational Memory Studies.” Organization Studies, 41 (12), 1725–1748.
- Levitt, B., & March, J.G. (1988): “Organizational Learning.” Annual Review of Sociology, 14, 319–340.
- Maclean, M., Harvey, C., Sillince, J.A.A., & Golant, B.D. (2014): “Living up to the past? Ideological sensemaking in organizational transition.” Organization, 21 (4), 543–567.
- Maclean, M., Harvey, C., Sillince, J.A.A., & Golant, B.D. (2018): “Intertextuality, Rhetorical History and the Uses of the Past in Organizational Transition.” Organization Studies, 39 (12), 1733–1755.
- Mena, S., Rintamäki, J., Fleming, P., & Spicer, A. (2016): “On the Forgetting of Corporate Irresponsibility.” Academy of Management Review, 41 (4), 720–738.
- Ocasio, W., Mauskapf, M., & Steele, C. (2016): “History, Society, and Institutions: The Role of Collective Memory in the Emergence and Evolution of Societal Logics.” Academy of Management Review, 41 (4), 676–699.
- Oertel, S., & Thommes, K. (2015): “Making history: Sources of organizational history and its rhetorical construction.” Scandinavian Journal of Management, 31 (4), 549–560.
- Ravasi, D., Rindova, V., & Stigliani, I. (2019): “The Stuff of Legend: History, Memory, and the Temporality of Organizational Identity Construction.” Academy of Management Journal, 62 (5), 1523–1555.
- Roediger, H.L., & Wertsch, J.V. (2008): “Creating a new discipline of memory studies.” Memory Studies, 1 (1), 9–22.
- Rowlinson, M., Booth, C., Clark, P., Delahaye, A., & Procter, S. (2010): “Social Remembering and Organizational Memory.” Organization Studies, 31 (1), 69–87.
- Schultz, M., & Hernes, T. (2013): A Temporal Perspective on Organizational Identity. Organization Science, 24 (1), 1–21.
- Suddaby, R., Foster, W. M., & Trank, C. Q. (2010): “Rhetorical history as a source of competitive advantage.” In: J.A.C. Baum & J. Lampel (eds.): Advances in Strategic Management: The Globalization of Strategy Research. Bingley: Emerald, 147–173.
- Wadhwani, R.D., Suddaby, R., Mordhorst, M., & Popp, A. (2018): “History as Organizing: Uses of the Past in Organization Studies.” Organization Studies, 39 (12), 1663–1683.
- Walsh, J.P., & Ungson, G.R. (1991): “Organizational Memory.” The Academy of Management Review, 16 (1), 57–91.