Sub-theme 52: Organizational Knowledge and Judgment in the Times of Complexity ---> CANCELLED!

Haridimos Tsoukas
University of Cyprus, Cyprus, & University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Demetris Hadjimichael
University of Cyprus, Cyprus
Igor Pyrko
University of Bath, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

The title of the forthcoming 40th EGOS Colloquium in Milan is the fascinating theme of “Crossroads for Organizations: Time, Space, and People”. To this end, the hybrid format (both online and offline) sub-theme sets out to explore the epistemic aspects of this broader, overarching narrative, while focusing on the nature of organizational knowledge and judgment. In particular, organizational knowledge and judgment warrant urgent and critical attention for researchers since global and technological changes affect the constitution and flow of knowledge and shape how people make judgements in organizational contexts (Frey, 2019). The emergence of AI and interactive technologies (Daveport and Miller, 2022; Lebovitz et al., 2022), new ways of working and communicating (de Vaujany et al., 2021), the overflow of information (Tsoukas, 1997) and the resulting need to manage attention (Nicolini and Korica, 2021), coupled by the mutual interdependencies of communities, organizations, and societies in the context of grand challenges (Ferraro et al., 2015), leads to significant implications for knowledge and the ability to make good judgments (Chia and Holt, 2006; Holt, 2018).
It is then clear that the texture of organizational knowledge and the capacity of organizational members to judge complex situations in-situ is changing. In parallel, drawing on organizational knowledge does not automatically guarantee a wise judgment. This means that organizational knowledge and judgment may have to be re-discovered while subject to stresses, tensions, and paradoxes that affect the rhythms of everyday life in organizations (Smith and Lewis, 2011, 2022). For this reason, the sub-theme’s ambition is to encourage scholarly inquiry into the nature of organizational knowledge and judgment and thereby investigate the epistemic aspects of ‘Crossroads for Organizations’ in which knowledge emerges at new intersections and interplay of time, space, and people.
While Easterby-Smith and Lyles (2005) define organizational knowledge as “(…) the nature of knowledge that is contained within organizations”, Blacker (1995) notes that different authors assume distinct epistemological assumptions about the nature and purpose of organizational knowledge. Specifically, some authors picture organizational knowledge as a flow of information (Brown and Duguid, 2002) stock of expertise (Starbuck, 1992), or a strategic resource that can and should be measured to ensure good strategic performance (King and Zeithaml, 2003). Meanwhile, other authors regard organizational knowledge as an activity or a process – i.e. individuals’ socially developed competencies and their ability to use the existing formal representations and processes in organizational context (Patriotta, 2003; Pentland, 1992). Seen this way, organizational knowledge is a distributed system where there is no central point of control due to the emergent nature of knowledge, which is cultivated in self-governed practices, while “portions of it are known differentially to all” (Tsoukas, 1996). Thus, organizational knowledge is continuously enacted (Orlikowski, 2002) and is a ‘two-way street’ between the official institutions and the more informal landscapes of social practices, i.e. distinct ‘forms of knowledge and forms of life’ (Tsoukas, 2005).
The debates on organizational knowledge are closely related to the consideration of judgment in organizations, especially since, for organizational members to exercise their judgment, they need to draw on organizational knowledge. However, even in the field of judgment research, the debates are subject to different approaches. Some scholars adopt a cognitive-cum-deliberative approach wherein judgment entails the conscious evaluation of options (Bitektine, 2011; Priem et al., 2010; Young et al., 2013). Other scholars adopt a wisdom approach, wherein agents manifest the intuitive ability to sense the complex situations ‘as a whole’ and be able to choose the ‘right’ course of action (Contu, 2022; Shotter and Tsoukas, 2014a, 2014b). Therefore, in light of a globalized and complex world, organizational knowledge and judgment can be expected to play an important role in adapting to the circumstances and even ‘bouncing forward’ by improving through learning and change (Jarzabkowski et al., 2019; Taleb, 2013).

Consequently, this sub-theme suggests, but is not limited to, the following broad questions:

  • How can we advance the existing debates on the nature and characteristics of organizational knowledge and/or judgment, in light of the increased complexity of problems organizations grapple with in a globalized world?

  • How do new technologies, including but not limited to AI, VR, and machine learning, impact on organizational knowledge and/or judgment in contemporary organizations?

  • How do time and space, especially when mediated by technology, enable or inhibt the development of organizational knowledge and the exercise of judgment?

  • How can organizational knowledge and judgment be integrated together conceptually in new ways?

  • How is morality intertwined with the processes of drawing on organizational knowledge and utilizing judgment?



  • Bitektine A (2011) Toward a Theory of Social Judgments of Organizations: The Case of Legitimacy, Reputation, and Status. Academy of Management Review 36(1): 151–179.
  • Blackler F (1995) Knowledge, Knowledge Work and Organizations: An Overview and Interpretation. Organization Studies 16(6): 1021–1046.
  • Brown JS and Duguid P (2002) Social Life of Information. Boston, MA, USA: Harvard Business Press.
  • Chia R and Holt R (2006) Strategy as Practical Coping: A Heideggerian Perspective. Organization Studies 27(5): 635–655.
  • Contu A (2022) Antigone: On Phronesis And How To Make Good and Timely Leadership Decisions. Academy of Management Review 48(1): 149-164.
  • Daveport TH and Miller SM (2022) Working with AI: Real Stories of Human-Machine Collaboration. Boston, MA, USA: MIT Press.
  • de Vaujany F-X, Leclercq-Vandelannoitte A, Munro I, et al. (2021) Control and Surveillance in Work Practice: Cultivating Paradox in ‘New’ Modes of Organizing. Organization Studies 42(5): 675–695.
  • Easterby-Smith M and Lyles MA (2005) Introduction: Watersheds of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management. In: Easterby-Smith M and Lyles MA (eds) The Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Ferraro F, Etzion D and Gehman J (2015) Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited. Organization Studies 36(3): 363–390.
  • Frey CB (2019) The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
  • Holt R (2018) Judgment and Strategy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Jarzabkowski P, Bednarek R, Chalkias K, et al. (2019) Exploring inter-organizational paradoxes: Methodological lessons from a study of a grand challenge. Strategic Organization 17(1): 120–132.
  • King AW and Zeithaml CP (2003) Measuring organizational knowledge: A conceptual and methodological framework. Strategic Management Journal 24(8): 763–772.
  • Lebovitz S, Lifshitz-Assaf H and Levina N (2022) To Engage or Not to Engage with AI for Critical Judgments: How Professionals Deal with Opacity When Using AI for Medical Diagnosis. Organization Science 33(1): 126–148.
  • Nicolini D and Korica M (2021) Attentional Engagement as Practice: A Study of the Attentional Infrastructure of Healthcare Chief Executive Officers. Organization Science 32(5): 1273–1299.
  • Orlikowski WJ (2002) Knowing in Practice: Enacting a Collective Capability in Distributed Organizing. Organization Science 13(3): 249–273.
  • Patriotta G (2003) Sensemaking on the shop floor: Narratives of knowledge in organizations. Journal of Management Studies 40(2): 349–375.
  • Pentland BT (1992) Organizing Moves in Software Support Hot Lines. Administrative Science Quarterly 37(4): 527.
  • Priem RL, Walters BA and Li S (2010) Decisions, Decisions! How Judgment Policy Studies Can Integrate Macro and Micro Domains in Management Research. Journal of Management 37(2): 553–580.
  • Shotter J and Tsoukas H (2014a) In Search of phronesis: Leadership and the art of judgment. Academy of Management Learning and Education 13(2): 224–243.
  • Shotter J and Tsoukas H (2014b) Performing phronesis: On the way to engaged judgment. Management Learning 45(4): 377–396.
  • Smith WK and Lewis M (2011) Toward a Theory of Paradox: A Dynamic equilibrium Model of Organizing. Academy of Management Review 36(2): 381-403.
  • Smith WK and Lewis MW (2022) Both/and Thinking: Embracing Creative Tensions to Solve Your Toughest Problems. Harvard, MA, USA: Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Starbuck WH (1992) LEARNING BY KNOWLEDGE-INTENSIVE FIRMS*. Journal of Management Studies 29(6): 713–740.
  • Taleb NN (2013) Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. New York, NY, USA: Penguin.
  • Tsoukas H (1996) The firm as a distributed knowledge system: A constructionist approach. Strategic Management Journal 17(S2): 11–25.
  • Tsoukas H (1997) The tyranny of light: The temptations and the paradoxes of the information society. Futures 29(9): 827–843.
  • Tsoukas H (2005) Forms of Knowledge and Forms of Life in Organized Contexts. In: Complex Knowledge: Studies in Organizational Epistemology. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Young MJ, Morris MW and Scherwin VM (2013) Managerial Mystique : Magical Thinking in Judgments of Managers ’ Vision , Charisma , and Magnetism. 39(4): 1044–1061.
Haridimos Tsoukas is the Columbia Ship Management Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Cyprus and a Distinguished Research Environment Professor of Organizational Behaviour at Warwick Business School, United Kingdom. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization Studies’ (2003–2008) and a co-founder (with Ann Langley) of the International Symposium on Process Organization Studies. Hari’s work has appeared in leading journals, including ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Strategic Management Journal’ and ‘Organization Studies’.
Demetris Hadjimichael is a Lecturer in Management at the University of Cyprus. His research centres around understanding how improvisation, knowledge and judgment enable work, by utilizing phenomenology, process and practice theories, as well as qualitative research techniques. Demetris’ work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Academy of Management Annals’, and ‘Management Learning’.
Igor Pyrko is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the University of Bath School of Management, United Kingdom. His research is concerned with knowledge and learning in organizations, for which he adopts practice-based and phenomenological perspectives. As part of this research direction, his work focuses on studying tacit knowledge, judgment, communities of practice, and knowledge management. He also has a strong interest in qualitative research methods. Igor’s work has been published in ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Human Relations’, and ‘Management Learning’, among others.