PDW 04: Researching Extreme Contexts: Methodological Challenges and Opportunities

Anja Danner-Schröder
TU Kaiserslautern, Germany
Virginie Fernandez
Umeå University, Sweden

Call for Applications

Keynote Speakers:
Victoria C. Fontan, American University of Afghanistan
Daniel Geiger, University of Hamburg, Germany
Renate E. Meyer, WU Vienna, Austria
Juliane Reinecke, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Daniel Geiger, University of Hamburg, Germany
April L. Wright, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Sophie E. Jané, University of Umeå, Sweden
Laure Cabantous, City, University London, United Kingdom
Madeleine Rauch, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Derin Kent, University of Warwick, United Kingdom


This PDW focuses on researching extreme contexts (Hällgren et al., 2018), which are defined as environments “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 psychological proximity to – organization members” (Hannah et al. 2009, 898). Accordingly, these settings provide scholars with methodological challenges such as getting hurt themselves, getting access or finding the “right” method. Within this PDW, we address these challenges and how we can meet those problems. Moreover, we want to trigger further thinking in terms of methodological opportunities and unconventional methods.
As we are facing more social and environmental challenges (e.g. climate change, inequalities, terror attacks, etc.) as ever before, more scholars are attracted to extreme contexts. This PDW is organized by the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 14 on Organizing in and for Extreme Contexts, however, it brings together participants from several sub-themes at the 39th EGOS Colloquium 2023 in Cagliari.


This PDW will start with two keynotes:

  • Victoria C. Fontan is a Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Vice President of Academic Affairs at the American University of Afghanistan. She witnessed firsthand the escape from Afghanistan in 2021 affected by the withdrawal of troops and will talk about the challenges and risks in this situation as a researcher.

  • Daniel Geiger is a Professor for Organization Studies at the University of Hamburg. He studies how organizations govern for and coordinate in unexpected situations such as crises or emergencies and collects data, for example, in the South Sudanese refugee crises and during the Ebola epidemic in Uganda. He will share some challenges and ethical considerations when collecting data in such contexts.

Afterwards, during the roundtable sessions, accepted papers will receive feedback from experts in the field (facilitators). All participants are expected to have read the papers of their fellow session presenters and contribute to their discussion.
After the coffee break , we kick of the second part of the PDW with two keynotes, which include Renate E. Meyer, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the EGOS journal Organization Studies, and Juliane Reinecke, Associate Editor of the Academy of Management Journal. Both will talk about challenges and opportunities in publishing qualitative research, in particular in researching extreme contexts. Moreover, both reflect on innovative and unconventional methods.
Finally, we will have a brainstorming session that is meant to think of how we as a field can develop our methods beyond traditional methods (e.g. observations, interviews, documents). Possible unconventional methods could be using fictions, digital/platform data, social media data, (video) diaries, auto-ethnographies, video material, experiments and/or netnography.


This PDW is open to all scholars interested in researching extreme contexts. Papers will be selected depending on the potential contribution to the PDW and the potential to improve the submitted papers. PhD students and early career scholars are particularly encouraged to submit, but also scholars interested in methodological challenges and opportunities of researching extreme contexts in more general.
Please submit – via the EGOS website – by April 30, 2023 a single document of application (.docx or .pdf file) that includes:

  • A short letter of application containing full details of name, affiliation, email, and date of PhD completion for early career scholars;

  • A statement of why you consider it valuable to attend this PDW, and an explicit naming of your challenges and possible opportunities;

  • A draft/working paper with max. 10 double-spaced pages, incl. references, figures, or tables.


  • 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.
  • Hällgren, M., Rouleau, L., & de Rond, M. (2018): “A matter of life and death: How extreme context research matters for management and organization studies.” Academy of Management Annals, 12 (1), 111–153.
Anja Danner-Schröder is an Associate Professor of Management Studies at the Technical University (TU) Kaiserslautern, Germany. Her main research interest is the dynamics of organizational routines in the context of high-reliability organizations. She conducted ethnographic studies with the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief [Technisches Hilfswerk, THW], Firefighting Units and an Emergency Ward of a German state hospital. Moreover, she has done research in the earthquake stricken areas of Sendai and Ishinomaki, Japan. Anja’s work has been published in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Organization Science’, ‘Organization Studies’, and ‘Journal of Management Inquiry’.
Virginie Fernandez is an Associate Professor in Management in Extreme Contexts at Umeå School of Business, Economics & Statistics, Sweden. In her PhD dissertation, she explored the emergence of collective competence in extreme contexts, specifically in mountain rescue setting. Virginie’s current studies deal with collective and embodied sensemaking, improvisation and temporality in extreme contexts. She has been organizing and facilitating the “Extreme Contexts Research Community Brown-Bag” seminars.