Sub-theme 25: Collaborating for the Future: Organizing across Organizations for Societal Challenges from a Practice and Process Perspective -> HYBRID sub-theme!

Kristina Lauche
Radboud University, The Netherlands
Paul R. Carlile
Boston University, USA
Katharina Cepa
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Call for Papers

Recent developments such as the climate crisis and the COVID pandemic have highlighted the need for collaboration beyond organisational boundaries in dealing with new challenges and mitigating the impact on our economic, social and cultural lives through local and global initiatives. Actors from different organisations reach out to shape the agenda, instigate change, share knowledge and pool resources. Such new, distributed forms of organising involve more fluid interactions with more loosely connected actors than in traditional alliances (e.g. Majchrzak et al., 2018). They can create ‘collaborative advantage’ (Huxham & Vangen, 2005) by bringing together various forms of technological, human and financial resources to accomplish a goal that would not be achievable for a single organisation. Yet numerous empirical studies have also pointed out that collaboration across boundaries (Carlile, 2004) can be difficult: the process of establishing it is often muddier and more long-winded than those initiating it assume (Deken et al., 2018), and they often do not achieve their goals.
This sub-theme addresses organising for change from a practice theory and process research perspective (Berends & Sydow, 2019). We are looking for empirically rich studies that explore how actors from different industrial sectors, public institutions, associations, and communities interact to campaign for and tackle complex social issues (Lauche, 2019). Organising across boundaries in the ill-defined vacuum between organisations and different economies of worth (Boltanski & Thevenot) presents notorious challenges but also opens up space for experimentation and renewal. We are interested in practices of bricolage and path creation (Garud & Karnøe, 2001). Such experimental spaces and cycles of collabo-ration are particularly relevant when novelty is high yet solutions must be developed rapidly. Large challenges require action and all steps can lead to additional cycles of action that will make a difference in people’s lives (Ferraro et al. 2015). This requires developing new practices and dynamic forms of organising that can enable actors to deal with incomplete solutions while still engaging is cycles of experimentation without becoming too frustrated and potentially disenfranchised.
The recent developments have forced a level of novelty on us that requires experimenting in collabo-rative cycles that have to be more open to risk and shared learning in order to develop workable solutions. Many of these interorganisational efforts have been mediated through technology which has required individual actors and organisations to ramp up their capability for digital transformation rapidly and experiment with novel technological modes of collaboration. In some cases, this reshapes processes of interorganizational learning and innovation (Browder et al., 2022) or coordination and governance of existing relationships (Cepa & Schildt, 2022). In other cases, this digitally evolving environment requires organizations to build new relationships (Geurts et al., 2022). At the same time, the increased use of technology has given a boost to encounters and new practice development across physical distance. This enables the emergence and management of new flux spaces to address complex problems (Bertello, Bogers & De Bernardi, 2022).
This sub-theme seeks to encourage discussion of how such experimental spaces and opportunities for path creation can arise in new forms of interorganisational collaboration and how the emergence of flux spaces can stimulate renewal and transformation. We specifically welcome papers that take a process and practice lens to study how collaboration emerges, develops, and changes over time.
Questions that may be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • How do actors shape collaborations when goals are broad, problems ill-defined, and possible solutions unclear?

  • How are collaborations shaped to allow for experimentation and renewal?

  • How do organizations interact in, and with, more loosely coupled and distributed collaborations?

  • How can innovative outcomes be developed when a variety of boundaries (i.e., organizational, industry and disciplinary) must be addressed to generate them?

  • How do organizations manage increasingly complex and connected inter-organizational arrangements?

  • How do actors create momentum and access resources for collaboration?

  • How are inter-organizational practices initiated, maintained, negotiated and transformed over time?

  • How do intra-organizational practices and inter-organizational practices interact in productive ways?

  • What role does technology play in the design and emergence of distributed inter-organizational practices?

  • How does the use of data-intensive technologies shape interorganizational collaboration processes?

  • How are activities in inter-organizational collaborations coordinated and governed between organizations, in particular if they involve actors from diverse settings?



  • Berends, H., & Sydow, J. (2019): “Introduction: Process Views on Inter-organizational Collaborations.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 64, 1–10.
  • Bertello, A., Bogers, M.L., & De Bernardi, P. (2022): “Open innovation in the face of the COVID‐19 grand challenge: insights from the Pan‐European hackathon ‘EUvsVirus’.” R&D Management, 52 (2), 178–192.
  • Browder, R.E., Koch, H., Long, A., & Hernandez, J.M. (2022): “Learning to Innovate with Big Data Analytics in Interorganizational Relationships.” Academy of Management Discoveries, 8 (1), 139–166.
  • Carlile, P.R. (2004): “Transferring, Translating, and Transforming: An Integrative Framework for Managing Knowledge across Boundaries.” Organization Science, 15 (5), 555–568.
  • Cepa, K., & Schildt, H. (2022): “Data-Induced Rationality and Unitary Spaces in Interfirm Collaboration.” Organization Science, 34 (1), 1–508.
  • Deken, F., Berends, H., Gemser, G., & Lauche, K. (2018): “Strategizing and the Initiation of Interorganizational Collaboration through Prospective Resourcing.” Academy of Management Journal, 61 (5), 1920–1950.
  • Ferraro, F., Etzion, D., & Gehman, J. (2015): “Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited.” Organization Studies, 36 (3), 363–390.
  • Garud, R., & Karnøe, P. (2001): “Path Creation as a Process of Mindful Deviation.” In: R. Garud & P. Karnøe (eds.): Path Dependence and Creation, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1–40.
  • Geurts, A., Broekhuizen, T., Dolfsma, W., & Cepa, K. (2022): “Tensions in multilateral coopetition: Findings from the disrupted music industry.” Industrial Marketing Management, 105, 532–547.
  • Huxham, C., & Vangen, S. (2005): Managing to Collaborate: The Theory and Practice of Collaborative Advantage. London: Routledge.
  • Lauche, K. (2019): “Insider Activists Pursuing an Agenda for Change: Selling the Need for Collaboration.” In: J. Sydow & H. Berends (eds.): Managing Inter-Organizational Collaborations: Process Views. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 119–138.
  • Majchrzak, A., Griffith, T.L., Reetz, D.K., & Alexy, O. (2018): “Catalyst Organizations as a New Organization Design for Innovation: The Case of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.” Academy of Management Discoveries, 4 (4), 472–496.
Kristina Lauche is the Chair of Organizational Development and Design at Nijmegen School of Management at Radboud University, The Netherlands. Her research addresses how actors outside senior management pursue change and create momentum across organizational boundaries using practice and process approaches. Kristina’s work has been published in journals such as ‘AMJ’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘MISQ’, among others.
Paul R. Carlile is Professor of Management and Information Systems and the Senior Associate Dean for Innovation at Boston University Questrom School of Business, USA. Paul’s work focuses on how the boundaries between different types of knowledge can be managed to more effectively drive collaboration, innovation, and change. He has published in journals such as ‘Organization Science’, ‘Management Science’, and ‘ASQ’, among others.
Katharina Cepa is Assistant Professor in Collaboration for Digital Innovation at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, School of Business and Economics. Her research explores how the use of digital real-time data technologies in (inter-)organizational processes affects the management and strategy of organizations. She has published in ‘Organization Science’, ‘JMS’, ‘Long Range Planning’, and ‘Research in the Sociology of Organizations’.