Sub-theme 43: Imagining Roles in New Forms of Strategizing and Organizing

Christoph Brielmaier
University of Bamberg, Germany
Martin Friesl
University of Bamberg, Germany
Violetta Splitter
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Call for Papers

Across organizational contexts, societal demands for transparency, inclusion, and accountability, the responses to grand global challenges, and digital transformation affect organizations’ traditional way of operating and give rise to new forms of organizing (Albu & Flyverbom, 2019; Karanović et al., 2021; Kornberger et al., 2017; Puranam et al., 2014; Robertson, 2015). For instance, in order to cope with societal demands for transparency and inclusion, organizations set up new, ‘open’ forms of strategizing by widening participation to internal and external actors (Seidl et al., 2019; Whittington et al., 2011). This results in an increasing prevalence of roles where actors self-select and choose to be involved (Dobusch et al., 2019; Gegenhuber et al., 2021).
In addition to greater degrees of freedom and possibilities for actors to engage in these processes (Raveendran et al., 2021), these new forms of strategizing and organizing are typically characterized by the need to coordinate a variety of incumbent and new actors (Dobusch et al., 2019). Still, we know little about the implications of new forms of organizing and strategizing for individual actors’ roles. Specifically, new forms of strategizing and organizing may create new roles, transform existing ones, or require actors to juggle multiple roles at the same time.
First, in line with new forms of organizing, various new (professional) roles such as the community manager, the anonymous crowdsourcing contributor, the corporate sustainability consultant, the scrum master, or the ‘feel good manager’ have spread in today’s organizations. Adopting these new roles may be challenging for role aspirants. Compared to traditional, strong roles such as the priest (Kreiner et al. 2006) or the surgeon (Abbott, 1988), the role of the feel good manager or the scrum master may not offer a ready-made mask actors can put on to play the new role (Goffman, 1959).
Second, actors’ existing roles might also change and evolve in new forms of organizing and strategizing due to flattened hierarchies and shifting accountability regimes (Robertson, 2015; Whittington et al., 2011). For instance, while in the past profit and loss responsibility might have been at the very centre of managerial roles, such a narrow understanding of management is increasingly widened to include social, environmental, and moral considerations (Zueva-Owens, 2020). In the context of strategy, increased participation can challenge professional identities (Splitter et al., 2021) and may require actors to deal with role ambiguity and uncertainty (Friesl et al., 2020).
Finally, new forms of organizing and strategizing may require actors to simultaneously enact and balance multiple roles (e.g. Caza et al. 2018; Leavitt et al. 2012). For instance, in crowdsourcing initiatives, as a new form of organizing, consumers’ multiple roles might challenge the existing power relations between producers and consumers (Bauer & Gegenhuber, 2015). This implies that actors have to juggle their existing roles with the demands of the adoption of new roles, which might also create role conflicts (Brielmaier & Friesl, 2021; Plotnikova et al., 2021).
Our intention in this sub-theme is to better understand the implications of new forms of strategizing and organizing for the creation, change and co-existence of roles in organizations. We invite papers from a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches that address this topic. Short papers could address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • How do new forms of organizing and strategizing lead to the creation of new roles?

  • How do new forms of organizing and strategizing affect organizational actors’ existing roles? How do actors cope with changes in their existing roles?

  • How do actors enact and cope with multiple roles and identities that they need to adopt in new forms of organizing and strategizing?

  • How is the creation of new roles related to the enactment of these new roles and identities in the context of new forms of organizing and strategizing?

  • How do actor’s positions within or outside the organization affect the creation of new roles?

  • What are the broader societal consequences of new roles in new forms of organizing?

  • What are the mechanisms (discursive, narrative etc.) through which the construction of role identities in the context of new forms of organizing and strategizing unfolds?

  • What are theoretical approaches to conceptualize and study the creation, change, and co-existence of actors’ roles in the context of new forms of organizing and strategizing?



  • Abbott, A. (1988): The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
  • Albu, O.B., & Flyverbom, M. (2019): “Organizational transparency: Conceptualizations, conditions, and consequences.” Business & Society, 58 (2), 268–297.
  • Bauer, R.M,. & Gegenhuber, T. (2015): “Crowdsourcing: Global search and the twisted roles of consumers and producers.” Organization, 22 (5), 661–681.
  • Brielmaier, C., & Friesl, M. (2021): “Pulled in all directions: Open strategy participation as an attention contest.” Strategic Organization, first published online on July 27, 2021,
  • Caza, B.B., Moss, S., & Vough, H. (2018): “From synchronizing to harmonizing: The process of authenticating multiple work identities.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 63 (4), 703–745.
  • 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.
  • Friesl, M., Garreau, L., & Newton, R. (2020): Identity Maintenance and Misaligned Sensemaking in Situations of Deliberate Organizational Closure. Paper presented at the 36th EGOS Colloquium, Hamburg, July 2–4, 2020.
  • Gegenhuber, T., Ellmer, M., & Schüßler, E. (2021): “Microphones, not megaphones: Functional crowdworker voice regimes on digital work platforms.” Human Relations, 74 (9), 1473–1503.
  • Goffman, E. (1959): The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
  • Karanović, J., Berends, H., & Engel, Y. (2021): “Regulated dependence: Platform workers’ responses to new forms of organizing.” Journal of Management Studies, 58 (4), 1070–1106.
  • Kreiner, G.E., Hollensbe, E.C., & Sheep, M.L. (2006): “Where is the “me” among the “we”? Identity work and the search for optimal balance.” Academy of Management Journal, 49 (5), 1031–1057.
  • Kornberger, M., Meyer, R.E., Brandtner, C., & Höllerer, M.A. (2017): “When bureaucracy meets the crowd: Studying “open government” in the Vienna City Administration.” Organization Studies, 38 (2), 179–200.
  • Leavitt, K., Reynolds, S.J., Barnes, C.M., Schilpzand, P., & Hannah, S.T. (2012): ‘‘Different hats, different obligations: Plural occupational identities and situated moral judgments.’’ Academy of Management Journal, 55 (6), 1316–1333.
  • Plotnikova, A., Brielmaier, C., & Friesl. M. (2021): One Word at a Time: Non-Strategists Identity Work in Open Strategy Communities. Paper presented at the 37th EGOS Colloquium, July 8–10, 2021.
  • Puranam, P., Alexy, O., & Reitzig, M. (2014): “What’s ‘new’ about new forms of organizing?” Academy of Management Review, 39 (2), 162–180.
  • Raveendran, M., Puranam, P., & Warglien, M. (2021): “Division of Labor Through Self-Selection.” Organization Science, 33 (2), 810–830.
  • Robertson, B.J. (2015): Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
  • Seidl, D., von Krogh, G., & Whittington, R. (2019): “Defining Open Strategy: Dimensions, Practices, Impacts, and Perspectives.” In: D. Seidl, G. von Krogh, & R. Whittington (eds.): Cambridge Handbook of Open Strategy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 9–26.
  • Splitter, V., Jarzabkowski, P., & Seidl, D. (2021): “Middle managers’ struggle over their subject position in Open Strategy processes.” Journal of Management Studies, first published online on September 30, 2021,
  • Whittington, R., Cailluet, L., & Yakis‐Douglas, B. (2011): “Opening strategy: Evolution of a precarious profession.” British Journal of Management, 22 (3), 531–544.
  • Zueva-Owens, A. (2020): “Fools, jesters and the possibility of responsible leadership.” Organization, 27 (4), 613–633.
Christoph Brielmaier s a doctoral student and research assistant at the University of Bamberg, Germany. His research focuses on the attention-based-view of the firm and open strategy. Christoph completed his studies in psychology, business administration, and history and received his MSc. in Psychology from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg.
Martin Friesl is Professor of Strategy and Organization Studies at the University of Bamberg, Germany, and Adjunct Professor at NHH Norwegian School of Economics, Norway. His research focuses on strategic transformation with an emphasis on autonomous initiatives, identity work as well as capability development.
Violetta Splitter is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. In her research she focuses on participation and power relations in Open Strategy as well as digital forms of strategy making. Violetta is a co-editor of the special issue on “Open Organizing” of ‘Organization Studies’.