Sub-theme 17: Achieving the Potential of Inclusion in Alternative and Democratic Organizations --> HYBRID!

Daniel King
Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Valérie Michaud
Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Simon Pek
University of Victoria, Canada

Call for Papers

Volunteer, community-based, cooperative and other socially-oriented organizations are generally deemed as seeking to pursue the good life, through pursuing economic and social inclusion and favouring broad participation in their decision-making (Osborne, 2013). They are established to fulfil a social purpose and, as such, they are said to be mission driven (de Bakker et al., 2013) and focused on creating better social outcomes.
While the organizational practices of many socially-orientated organizations often do not match their mission and purpose (e.g., Barros & Michaud, 2020; King & Land, 2018; Pek, 2021), the possibilities remain that such organizations can explore organizational forms that can place participation, democracy, and well-being at their centre, and that support the development of the good life (King & Griffin, 2019). Indeed, socially-orientated organizations have a long (and often forgotten) legacy of alternative ways of organizing that have placed the good life as their central motif and purpose (Milbourne & Murray, 2017). Participatory democracy, radical organizational structures and feminist forms of organizing have all been pioneered, experimented with, refined and critiqued within such social-orientated organizations (Daskalaki, 2018). Such organizations have been called schools of democracy (Dodge & Ospina, 2016), spaces which could develop the capacities to develop democratic citizens. Such movements have sought to actively and consciously organize in a way that can reflect the good life, but also question the outcomes of such endeavours, as Freeman’s famous critique of horizontal forms of organizing exemplifies (Freeman, 1972). Thus, socially-oriented organizations have the legacy of a long-standing history of alternative forms of organizing that can produce an imaginary for new prefigurative ways of organizing that support the good life.
We welcome historical, conceptual and empirical accounts and are particularly open to early career researchers. We are open to interdisciplinary contributions from a wide range of disciplines, including public and non-profit management, organizational behaviour, and organization theory. We are especially interested in approaches that focus on organizational practices that support democratization of socially-oriented organizations and contributions that examine how equality, diversity and inclusion are practiced within social-purpose organizations, such as through the decision-making practices or creative ways in which minority voices are listened to and allowed to make a difference in organizing and collective action. Alternatively, we hope to better understand exclusionary mechanisms, such as epistemic injustice (i.e., the denial of some people’s knowledge and relevance on some issue; Fricker, 2007) and other methods through which unbalanced participation is maintained in organizational contexts (e.g., Diefenbach, 2020). While management scholars more broadly have increased our understanding of inclusion and exclusion in organizations and pointed to the potential of a range of relevant practices (e.g., Shore et al., 2011), we are interested in exploring how these practices embrace alternative dynamics when adapted to socially-oriented organizations.
We are therefore interested in, but not limited to, the following questions:
  • What can socially-oriented organizations learn from examples of historical or current accounts of alternative democratic organizing? Could such precedents act as a repository for the imaginary of other ways of organizing that can support the good life?

  • How can we design socially-oriented organizations that promote well being through equality, diversity, and inclusion?

  • What are the methodological possibilities and considerations of researchers working with and alongside socially-oriented organizations to support the development of the good life within and through their organizational democratic practices?

  • What are the democratic organizational practices that could lead to the development of the good life?

  • How can we better understand practices of inclusion and exclusions, and devise interventions to ensure greater diversity and participation in key decisions?

  • What can socially-oriented organizations learn from contemporary research on inclusion and exclusion at work? In what ways do the dynamics of these practices vary due to the unique democratic features and objectives of these organizations?


  • Barros, M., & Michaud, V. (2020): “Worlds, words, and spaces of resistance: Democracy and social media in consumer co-ops.” Organization, 27 (4), 578–612.
  • Daskalaki, M. (2018): “Alternative organizing in times of crisis: Resistance assemblages and socio-spatial solidarity.” European Urban and Regional Studies, 25 (2), 155–170.
  • de Bakker, F.G., den Hond, F., King, B., & Weber, K. (2013): “Social movements, civil society and corporations: Taking stock and looking ahead.” Organization Studies, 34 (5–6), 573–593.
  • Diefenbach, T. (2020): The Democratic Organisation. Democracy and the Future of Work. New York: Routledge.
  • Dodge, J., & Ospina, S.M. (2016): “Nonprofits as ‘schools of democracy’: A comparative case study of two environmental organizations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 45 (3), 478–499.
  • Freeman, J. (1972): “The tyranny of structurelessness.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 17, 151–164.
  • Fricker, M. (2007): Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • King, D., & Griffin, M. (2019): “Nonprofits as schools for democracy: The justifications for organizational democracy within nonprofit organizations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 48 (5), 910–930.
  • King, D., & Land, C. (2018): “The democratic rejection of democracy: Performative failure and the limits of critical performativity in an organizational change project.” Human Relations, 71 (11), 1535–1557.
  • Milbourne, L., & Murray, U. (eds.) (2017): Civil Society Organizations in Turbulent Times. A Gilded Web? Sterlling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
  • Osborne, S.P. (ed.) (2013): Voluntary and Non-Profit Management. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Pek, S. (2021): “Drawing out democracy: The role of sortition in preventing and overcoming organizational degeneration in worker-owned firms.” Journal of Management Inquiry, 30 (2), 193–206.
  • Shore, L.M., Randel, A.E., Chung, B.G., Dean, M.A., Holcombe Ehrhart, K., et al. (2011):. “Inclusion and diversity in work groups: A review and model for future research.” Journal of Management, 37 (4), 1262–1289.
Daniel King is Professor of Organization Studies at Nottingham Trent University, UK, where he researches alternative forms of organizing, critical management studies, and the voluntary and community sector.
Valérie Michaud is Professor at École des sciences de la gestion, Université du Québec à Montréal (ESG UQAM), Canada, where she does research on alternative organizations of the social and solidarity economy, their managerial tools and paradoxes.
Simon Pek is an Assistant Professor at the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria, Canada, in the areas of sustainability and organization theory. He is particularly interested in worker cooperatives, novel approaches to workplace democracy, and the changing nature of work.