Sub-theme 14: [SWG] The Role Institutions, Networks, and Communities in Extreme Contexts

Markus Hällgren
Umeå University, Sweden
Samer Faraj
McGill University, Canada
Linda Rouleau
HEC Montréal, Canada

Call for Papers

Extreme contexts are settings “where one or more extreme events are occurring or are likely to occur that may exceed the organization’s capacity to prevent and result in an extensive and intolerable magnitude of physical, psychological, or material consequences to – or in close physical or psychosocial proximity to – organization members” (Hannah et al. 2009: 898; see Bundy et al., 2017; Hällgren et al., 2018; Williams et al., 2018 for reviews). Many years have passed since Beck (1992) suggested that we live in a “risk society”. Since then, our sense of risk has continued to evolve and influence how institutions, networks, and communities are dealing with the “riskification” of society (see also Hardy & Maguire, 2016; Hardy et al., 2020).
In the previous sub-themes at EGOS Colloquia convened by the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 14 on “Organizing in and for Extreme Contexts”, the themes have been largely oriented on contributions around extreme events happening in diverse research settings, and targeting a multiplicity of stakeholders. This year, we want to approach extreme contexts research at a macro level. The aim of this sub-theme is to highlight how and why institutions, networks, and communities are affecting, and affected by potential and actual extreme events. To this end, the role of the stakeholders involved at a macro level are important for understanding of how contextual conditions are shaped in the past, current and the future.
Research about paradoxical and often competing institutional logics and networks might be helpful for better understanding the multiple processes by which communities achieve resilience and progress in extreme contexts. Public hearings, media discourses, and governmental documents about risks and catastrophic events provide empirical richness for understanding how multiple logics and networks (e.g., governmental, civilian, professional, economic, safety, and so on) coexist and shape the ways stakeholders, organizations and communities act and react in and to extreme contexts (see, for example, Gephart, 1993; Brown, 2000). To explore these logics are critical, e.g., in order to understand what make some people to suffer psychological injuries as a consequence of exposure to war (de Rond & Lok, 2016).
Moreover, the role of institutions and networks builds on the recognition that extreme contexts rely on sets of interactions between suppliers, producers, and distributors and technologies and social processes (Goh et al., 2012; Madsen, 2013). Barin Cruz et al. (2016) found that in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in Haiti, three forms of institutional work developed: bridging global and local partners, securing operations and mobilizing solidarity, which enabled banking. All around the world, natural disasters, crisis and emergency situations are mobilizing communities support, local venturing experiences and interorganizational collaboration (Shepherd & Williams, 2014; Kornberger, Leixnering & Meyer, 2019). We are curious about how institutions, networks and communities can develop stronger capacities to anticipate and deal with extreme events through continuous innovation. This will help us to contribute to the broad interest on institutions, networks, and communities related to extreme contexts.
This sub-theme will be an attempt to bring together researchers from different backgrounds and traditions, from management and organization studies who share a common interest in researching in extreme contexts. We welcome both empirical research looking for better understand ongoing efforts of organizing in extreme contexts and papers devoted to consolidate, integrate, and further develop knowledge regarding the role of institutions, networks and communities in such environment. Our only requirement is that the contributions are thought-provoking, innovative, and rigorous!
Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The commercialization and perception of risk

  • The development of the risk society and its stakeholders

  • The capacity for resilience of cities, governmental agencies and inter-organizational stakeholders

  • Competing logics among collaborating stakeholders in disaster response

  • Distributed collective action organized in humanitarian and natural disasters

  • The balance between agility and directionality in institutions and network organizations facing crisis



  • Barin Cruz, L., Aguilar Delgado, N., Leca, B., & Gond, J.-P. (2016): “Institutional resilience in extreme operating environments: The role of institutional work.” Business & Society, 55 (7), 970–1016.
  • Beck, U. (1992): Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Brown, A.D. (2000): “Making sense of inquiry sensemaking.” Journal of Management Studies, 37 (1).
  • Bundy, J., Pfarrer, M.D., Short, C.E., & Coombs, W.T. (2016): “Crises and Crisis Management: Integration, Interpretation, and Research Development.” Journal of Management, 43 (6), 1661–1692.
  • de Rond, M., & Lok, J. (2016): “Some things can never be unseen: The role of context in psychological injury at war.” Academy of Management Journal, 59 (6), 1965–1993.
  • Gephart Jr., R.P. (1993): “The textual approach: Risk and blame in disaster sensemaking.” Academy of Management Journal, 36 (6), 1465–1514.
  • Hannah, S.T., Uhl-Bien, M., Avolio, B.J., & Cavarretta, F.L. (2009): “A framework for examining leadership in extreme contexts.” The Leadership Quarterly, 20 (6), 897–919.
  • Goh, Y.M., Love, P.E.D., Brown, H., & Spickett, J. (2012): “Organizational accidents: A systemic model of production versus protection.” Journal of Management Studies, 49 (1), 52–76.
  • Hardy, C., & Maguire, S. (2016): “Organizing risk: Discourse, power, and ‘riskification’.” Academy of Management Review, 41 (1), 80–108.
  • Hardy, C., Maguire, S., Power, M., & Tsoukas, H. (2020): “Organizing risk: Organization and management theory for the risk society.” Academy of Management Annals, 14( 2), 1032–1066.
  • Hällgren, M., Rouleau, L., & de Rond, M. (2018): “A matter of life or death: How extreme context research matters for management and organization studies.” Academy of Management Annals, 12 (1), 111–153.
  • Kornberger, M., Leixnering, S., & Meyer, R.E. (2019): “The logic of tact: How decisions happen in situations of crisis.” Organization Studies, 40 (2), 239–266.
  • Madsen, P.M. (2013): “Perils and Profits: A Reexamination of the Link between Profitability and Safety in U.S. Aviation.” Journal of Management, 39 (3), 763–791.
  • Shepherd, D.A., & Williams, T.A. (2014): “Local venturing as compassion organizing in the aftermath of a natural disaster: The role of localness and community in reducing suffering.” Journal of Management Studies, 51 (6), 952–994.
  • Williams, T.A., Gruber, D.A., Sutcliffe, K.M., Shepherd, D.A., & Zhao, E.Y. (2017): “Organizational Response to Adversity: Fusing Crisis Management and Resilience Research Streams.” Academy of Management Annals, 11 (2), 733–769.
Markus Hällgren is a Professor of Management at Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics, Umea ̊University, Sweden. His main research interest lies within the everyday practice of leadership and team dynamics in extreme contexts. He has done research on, for example, mountaineering expeditions to Mount Everest, zombies, the police, indoor climbing, and armed forces. Markus leads the research program Extreme Environments – Everyday Decisions ( and is co-responsible for the “Organizing Extreme Contexts” network (
Samer Faraj holds the Canada Research Chair in Technology, Management & Healthcare at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Canada. He is Head of the research group on Complex Collaboration and serves as Director of the faculty’s PhD program. Samer studies how complex collaboration is sustained and innovation emerges in a variety of settings such as: trauma care, intensive care units, emergency departments, urgent care clinics, first response teams, open source, and online communities.
Linda Rouleau is Professor of Strategy and Organization Theory at the Management Department of HEC Montréal, Canada. Her research work focuses on strategizing and sensemaking in pluralistic contexts. Linda is co-responsible for the GePS (study group of Strategy-as-Practice, HEC Montréal) and involved in leading an international and interdisciplinary network on “Organizing Extreme Contexts”.