PDW 01: Theorizing Desirable Futures

Ali Aslan Gümüşay
University of Hamburg, Germany
Juliane Reinecke
King’s College London, United Kingdom
Tor Hernes
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Call for Applications


Grace Augustine, Bayes Business School, United Kingdom: “Distant future imaginaries”
Blagoy Blagoev, Technical University Dresden, Germany: “Experiencing alternative futures through gamification”
Miriam Feuls, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark: “Beyond scenario analysis”
Santi Furnari, Bayes Business School, United Kingdom: “Counterfactual thinking”
Martin Kornberger, WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria: “Thought experiments”
Majken Schultz, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark: “Future coordination of near and distant futures”


The overall goal of this PDW – hosted by the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 01 on Organization and Time – is to help the field identify and develop conceptual and methodological tools we need to theorize desirable futures. This PDW aims to offer scholars across all levels an opportunity to explore those conceptual and methodological tools.
The aim of this PDW is to expand our ways of knowing that can co-create desirable futures and feed forward soci(et)al change. The future poses one peculiar problem: By definition, it is not here yet. Thus, the quest to contribute to the construction of a future social reality raises some fundamental questions: Do we actually need to wait until something exists before we can theorize it? Or can we, ex ante, theorize, say, a post-COVID-19 world or think through the consequences of a society radically shaped by artificial intelligence? To put it differently, the conundrum we face is the following: As an empirical social science, organizational scholarship deals with the social world as it exists and came to be; our methodological tools are based on data sourced from bservable events that have already occurred. Thus, how can we study, conceptualize, and theorize what is not (yet) observable and does not (yet) exist? Could we indeed build valid theories based on, for instance, acts of imagination? To do so, we want to explore the conceptual and methodological tools for imagining futures, such as distant imagination, counter-factual thinking, thought experiments, scenarios, real utopias, artists, anticipation, narratives, metaphors and others.
This PDW will open up the conversation about what a new future-oriented research agenda might look like, with the aim to develop new ways of theorizing desirable futures. Thus, we invite the EGOS community to jointly work on expanding and developing our ways of theorizing desirable futures, generating new research idea(l)s and fostering potential research and impact collaborations.


The PDW will be structured in three parts:
Part 1: Panel Discussion (90 mins.)
The PDW will start with a brief introduction to the background, aims and panelists of the event. We will then conduct a panel discussion, where our invited scholars will introduce one specific tool for imagination (5 mins. each) as input for further discussion.

09:00–09:15: Introduction
09:15–09:45: Panel
09:45–10:30: Q&A
10:30–10:45: Break

Part 2: Roundtable Discussions (90 mins.)
In its second part, the PDW will be divided into roundtables, each chaired by one of our organizers and/or panellists and dedicated to the exploration of one specific tool for imagination. The aim of the roundtables is both “educational” and explorative, to (a) deepen theoretical knowledge about tools for imagination, and (b) explore and imagine ways of how this could be used methodologically to inspire research and theorizing desirable futures.
Participants will also discuss and receive feedback on their project ideas, and roundtable moderators will facilitate the discussion and ensure that participants will receive rich and diverse inspirations for their respective projects.
We will then come together in a 30-minute concluding session, where we invite roundtable participants to present the results of their discussion and share insights with participants from other roundtables.

10:45–11:00: Personal introduction
11:00–11:45: Research idea presentation & discussion
11:45–12:15: Break

Part 3: Panel summary (45 min.)
In the third part, we will come back together as a group and hear short summaries from each roundtable followed by concluding remarks.

12:15–12:45: Summary from roundtables
12:45–13:00: Conclusion



Please submit – via the EGOS website – by April 30, 2022 a single document of application (.docx or .pdf file) that includes the following information:

  • A short summary (0.5–1 page) of a proposed or current project explaining the project and the relation to the PDW theme. Please include full details of name, affiliation, and email address.

  • Indication of preference for the roundtables.


  • Augustine, G., Soderstrom, S., Milner, D., & Weber, K. (2019): “Constructing a Distant Future: Imaginaries in Geoengineering.” Academy of Management Journal, 62 (6), 1930–1960.
  • Gümüşay, A.A., & Reinecke, J. (2022): “Researching for Desirable Futures: From Real Utopias to Imagining Alternatives.” Journal of Management Studies, 59 (1), 236-242.
  • Hernes, T., & Schultz, M. (2020): “Translating the Distant into the Present: How actors address distant past and future events through situated activity.” Organization Theory, 1 (1), first published online on February 13, 2020; https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2631787719900999
  • Kornberger, M., & Mantere, S. (2020): “Thought Experiments and Philosophy in Organizational Research.” Organization Theory, 1 (3), first published online on July 22, 2020;
Ali Aslan Gümüşay is Head of the Research Group at the Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society Berlin and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hamburg, Germany. His work in organization theory, entrepreneurship, business ethics, and leadership has been published in outlets such as ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Academy of Management Perspectives’, ‘Business & Society’, ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Organization Theory’, ‘Research in the Sociology of Organizations’, and ‘Research Policy’.
Juliane Reinecke is Professor of International Management and Sustainability at King’s Business School, King’s College London, United Kingdom, where she has also served as Associate Dean for Impact and Innovation. Her research focuses on mechanisms for achieving sustainable futures in organizations and in global value chains, such as through transnational multi-stakeholder governance, collective action, and social movements. Juliane is an Associate Editor of ‘Organization Theory’ and of ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’, and she serves on the Editorial Boards of ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘Organization’.
Tor Hernes is Professor of Organization Theory at Copenhagen Business School (CBS), Denmark, and Adjunct Professor at University of South-Eastern Norway. Tor directs the Centre for Organization and Time at CBS, which invites multiple understandings of time to help organizational research address more complex and dynamic phenomena of organizing. His research focuses primarily on organizations, process, and temporality, with a particular interest in an event-based understanding of time. In his recent work, he has examined organizational continuity and change – how actors construct different combinations of near and distant horizons extending both into the future and the past.