PDW 01 – Scandinavian Organization Studies: Contemporary Conundrums and Future Prospects [hybrid]

Sanne Bor
LUT University, Finland
Noomi Weinryb
Södertörn Universit, Sweden
Elena Raviola
University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Sophie Michel
EM Strasbourg Business School, France

Call for Applications


Scandinavian organization studies have a long interpretive tradition grounded in qualitative studies, attentive to localness and its connection to the global level, looking at varieties of ideas, practices, and processes of organizing, and resisting the impulse of reducing contradictions and tensions to solutions. These studies have provided notions and models that have contributed significantly to the development of the European organization theory.
The scholarly community in Scandinavian organization studies, deeply rooted in social constructivism, has developed a unique understanding of institutions and institutional processes. Stemming from a distinct research tradition on loose coupling, sensemaking, and translation (Boxenbaum & Pedersen, 2009), Scandinavian institutionalism is attentive to the variety and distinctiveness in how ideas and practices travel around the world. Instead of existing in identical isomorphic versions, they undergo translations through and into materiality (Czarniawska & Sevón, 1996; Sahlin & Wedlin, 2008; Raviola & Dubini, 2016; Raviola & Norbäck, 2013; Wedlin & Sahlin, 2017). From its inception, these studies established a closeness to practices and processes as a way in which institutionalization may be studied.
Embracing empirical research of that which may be broadly labelled as heterogenous homogeneity, Scandinavian organization studies from the outset combined a keen interest in new institutionalism and decision-making but added its own flavour of contextualized process- focused work, paying attention to themes such as reforms, decisions, and (ir)rationality (Brunsson, 1982, 1986; Brunsson & Sahlin-Andersson, 2000), as well as the travel of ideas, imitation, and editing (Czarniawska & Joerges, 1996; Sahlin-Andersson, 1996).
While being attentive to local variations, Scandinavian organization studies extended their relevance to the global organizational arena, with a specific emphasis on the mechanisms of transnational governance (Djelic & Sahlin-Andersson, 2006), including standards (Brunsson & Jacobsson, 2000), from an organizational perspective. Subsequent and crucial developments about meta-organization (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2005) and partial organization (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2011) have introduced analytical tools that facilitate a deeper exploration of the coalition of organizations involved in transnational governance. This exploration encompasses considerations of organizationality, ‘decisionality’ (Berkowitz & Bor, 2022), and the complexity inherent in this phenomenon.
Today, we see a renewed scholarly interest and development in Scandinavian organization studies. Recent work has enriched our understanding of meta-organizations (Berkowitz & Dumez, 2016; Bor & Cropper, 2023) and partial organizing (Laamanen et al., 2019; Schoeneborn & Dobusch, 2019; Weinryb et al., 2019), translations (Claus et al., 2021; Lawrence, 2017; Waldorff & Madsen, 2023), carriers (Tyllström, 2021), standardization (Brunsson et al., 2022), decision-making, and organizing outside organizations (Czarniawska et al., 2023a; Czarniawska et al., 2023b).
In sum, Scandinavian organization studies offer a rich conceptual baggage to understand the politics of the organizational world and has approached issues like decision making, governance and responsibility in a critical way.


This PDW intends to create and stimulate discussion and help develop new research themes in the rich tradition of Scandinavian organization studies by allowing exchange among doctoral students, early career scholars, and more experienced scholars.
In this PDW, we are especially interested in exploring how Scandinavian organization studies may relate to contemporary crossroads of people, spaces, and time such as: populism, polarization, climate change, authoritarian developments, corruption, inequalities, social media and artificial intelligence, in their practical unfolding and organizing. We believe Scandinavian organization studies is of relevance to these and other contemporary conundrums, empirical and theoretical alike.
We welcome short papers or research proposals relating to, but also extending work, on topics such as the travel of ideas and institutional translation, meta- and partial organizations and organizing, hypocrisy, the (ir)rationality of action and action rationality, standards, regulation, and transnational governance, carriers, imitation and editing, decisions, and reforms. Papers pushing methodological boundaries in relation to Scandinavian organization studies are also welcome.

What happens at the workshop

In the tradition of Scandinavian organization studies, the workshop will focus on the interplay between theoretical framing and operationalization, exploring how rich empirical accounts can relate to broader theoretical conundrums. The workshop will relate both to the concrete processes of individual publications as well as the bigger collective endeavour of conceptual and theoretical development. All participants will be asked to prepare constructive comments and points of discussion regarding the work of fellow participants.


Please submit – via the EGOS website – by April 30, 2024 a single document of application (.docx or .pdf file) that includes:

  • A letter of application containing full details of name, affiliation, and email;

  • A short paper or a research proposal of at max. 3000 words, where the framing and operationalizations of the study are clearly indicated.


  • Ahrne, G., & Brunsson, N. (2005): “Organizations and meta-organizations.” Scandinavian Journal of Management, 21 (4), 429–449.
  • Ahrne, G., & Brunsson, N. (2011): “Organization outside organizations: The significance of partial organization.” Organization, 18, 83–104.
  • Berkowitz, H., & Bor, S. (2018): “Why Meta-Organizations Matter: A Response to Lawton et al. and Spillman.” Journal of Management Inquiry, 27 (2), 204–211.
  • Berkowitz, H., & Bor, S. (2022): “Meta-organisation as partial organisation: An integrated framework of organisationality and decisionality.” In: E. Lupova-Henry & N.F. Dotti (eds.): Clusters and Sustainable Regional Development: A Meta-Organisational Approach. London: Routledge, 25–41.
  • Berkowitz, H., & Dumez, H. (2016): “The concept of meta‐organization: Issues for management studies.” European Management Review, 13 (2), 149–156.
  • Bor, S., & Cropper, S. (2023): “Extending meta-organization theory: A resource-flow perspective.” Organization Studies, 44 (12), 1939–1960.
  • Boxenbaum, E., & Pedersen, J.S. (2009): “Scandinavian Institutionalism – a Case of Institutional Work.” In: T.B. Lawrence, R. Suddaby, & B. Leca (eds): Institutional Work, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 178–204.
  • Brunsson, N. (1982): “The irrationality of action and action rationality: decisions, ideologies and organizational actions.” Journal of Management Studies, 19 (1), 29–44.
  • Brunsson, N. (1986): “Organizing for inconsistencies: on organizational conflict, depression and hypocrisy as substitutes for action.” Scandinavian Journal of Management Studies, 2 (3), 165–185.
  • Brunsson, N., & Jacobsson, B. (2000): A World of Standards. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Brunsson, N., & Sahlin-Andersson, K. (2000): “Constructing organizations: The example of public sector reform.” Organization Studies, 21 (4), 721–746.
  • Brunsson, N., Gustafsson Nordin, I., & Tamm Hallström, K. (2022): “‘Un-responsible’ organization: How more organization produces less responsibility.” Organization Theory, 3 (4), https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/epub/10.1177/26317877221131582.
  • Claus, L., Greenwood, R., & Mgoo, J. (2021): “Institutional translation gone wrong: The case of villages for Africa in rural Tanzania.” Academy of Management Journal, 64 (5), 1497–1526.
  • Czarniawska, B., & Joerges, B. (1996): “Travels of ideas.” In: B. Czarniawska & G. Sevón (eds.): Translating Organizational Change. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 13–48.
  • Czarniawska, B. & Sevón, G. (1996): Translating Organizational Change. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Czarniawska, B., Miscione, G., Raviola, E., da Silveira, R.A., & Tarim, E. (2023a): “Organising Outside Organisations – Part I.” puntOorg International Journal, 8 (1), 1–2.
  • Czarniawska, B., Raviola, E., da Silveira, R.A., & Tarim, E. (2023b): “Organising Outside Organizations – Part II.” puntOorg International Journal, 8 (2), 134–135.
  • Djelic, M.-L., & Sahlin-Andersson, K. (2006): Transnational Governance: Institutional Dynamics of Regulation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Laamanen, M., Bor, S., & den Hond, F. (2019): “The dilemma of organization in social movement initiatives.” In: G. Ahrne & N. Brunsson (eds.): Organization outside Organizations: The Abundance of Partial Organization in Social Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 293–317.
  • Lawrence, T.B. (2017): “High-stakes institutional translation: Establishing North America’s first government-sanctioned supervised injection site.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (5), 1771–1800.
  • Raviola, E., & Norbäck, M. (2013): “Bringing technology and meaning into institutional work: Making news at an Italian business newspaper.” Organization Studies, 34 (8), 1171–1194.
  • Raviola, E., & Dubini, P. (2016): “The logic of practice in the practice of logics: practicing journalism and its relationship with business in times of technological changes.” Journal of Cultural Economy, 9 (2), 197–213.
  • Sahlin-Andersson, K. (1996): “Imitating by Editing Success. The Construction of Organizational Fields and Identities.” In: B. Czarniawska & G. Sevón (eds.): Translating Organizational Change. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 69–92.
  • Sahlin, K., & Wedlin, L. (2008): “Circulating ideas: Imitation, translation and editing.” In: R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, R. Suddaby, & K. Sahlin-Andersson (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. London: SAGE Publications, 218–242.
  • Schoeneborn, D., & Dobusch, L. (2019): “Alternating between Partial and Complete Organization: The Case of Anonymous.” In: G. Ahrne & N. Brunsson (eds.): Organization outside Organizations: The Abundance of Partial Organization in Social Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 318–333.
  • Tyllström, A. (2021): “More than a revolving door: Corporate lobbying and the socialization of institutional carriers.” Organization Studies, 42 (4), 595–614.
  • Waldorff, S.B., & Madsen, M.H. (2023): “Translating to maintain existing practices: micro-tactics in the implementation of a new management concept.” Organization Studies, 44 (3), 427–450.
  • Wedlin, L., & Sahlin, K. (2017): “The imitation and translation of management ideas.” In: R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, T.B. Lawrence, & R.E. Meyer (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. London: SAGE Publications, 102–127.
  • Weinryb, N., Gullberg, C., & Turunen, J. (2019): “Collective Action through Social Media: Possibilities and Challenges of Partial Organizing.” In: G. Ahrne & N. Brunsson (eds.): Organization outside Organizations: The Abundance of Partial Organization in Social Life. Cambridge: Cambridge Universiy Press, 334–356.
Sanne Bor is currently working as a post-doctoral researcher in International Business and Entrepreneurship at LUT University, Finland. Her work focuses on inter-organizational collaboration, especially utilizing meta-organization theory. Empirically she is mainly working in settings of environmental sustainability challenges and conflicts. Sanne is coordinator of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 01 on “Meta-Organization and Meta-Organizing”. She has organized many successful sub-themes, tracks and a PDW during the last five years both for EGOS as well as for BAM, where she has chaired the special interest group on Inter-Organizational Collaboration since 2019.
Noomi Weinryb is currently working as an Associate Professor in Public Administration at Södertörn Universit, Sweden. With a background in organizational institutionalism, her research is centred on issues of organizing and accountability – mainly focusing on civil society in a broad sense. This includes research on organizational implications of social media usage, crisis organizing, as well as legislative challenges to civil society in increasingly illiberal contexts. Noomi is currently doing work on civil society organizing in Russia and Ukraine, as well as looking at social media organizing in Sweden during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Elena Raviola works as Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Professor in Design Management, Academy of Art and Design, and Director of Business and Design Lab, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her main research interest concerns the role of digital technologies in organizing professional work, theoretically developing the intersection between institutional theory and science and technology studies. She has long studied the news industry in Italy, France, and Sweden in both established and new news organizations. Elena is currently working on the construction and organization of borders between Nordic countries, with a particular focus on digital technologies. She is also involved in a Horizon project on the future of craft, where her main interest is how traditional craft is reorganized and renewed in relation to the digital.
Sophie Michel is an Associate Professor in Organization Theory at EM Strasbourg Business School, University of Strasbourg, France. Her research interests lie at the intersection of collective action, meta-organization, and new institutionalism in the face of sustainability. Sophie’s empirical work is mainly based on coalitions and efforts towards sustainable food systems, but she is also working on other sustainable challenges related to manufacturing and creative industries through qualitative methods.