17th Organization Studies Workshop
Utopias and dystopias: Organization studies in a brave new world?
18-20 May 2023, Athens, Greece
Conveners & Hosts
Paolo Quattrone, University of Manchester, UK
Renate Meyer, WU Vienna, Austria
Diane-Laure Arjaliès, Ivey Business School, Canada
Ali A. Gümüsay, University of Hamburg, Germany
Michael Lounsbury, University of Alberta, Canada
Marc Ventresca, University of Oxford, UK
The social is made of utopias and dystopias, hopes and fears, dreams, and disillusions. We are witnessing the development of new entrepreneurial ventures, organizational forms, and institutional practices shaped by worries about a dystopic future and the utopic desire to master and build a better tomorrow.
The Gretas, Musks, and Ocasio-Cortez' of this world are driven by the urge to address challenges that have a dimension to affect our contemporary lives and threaten our future existence. Their beliefs in the possibility of saving humanity, the planet, and the social fabric of the world in which we live are often approved. Blockchains promise utopic financial transparency and a commercial world free from politics. Theranos raised millions by promising blood tests that sounded and appealed to the power of magic more than science. Space races, NetZero economies and the like are rarely questioned; the alternative opportunities, risks, and trade-offs remain unsearched.
Those new dreams are becoming ‘something no-body can be against’ to the point that the states, regulators, and established institutional actors are delegating action to those leading these initiatives without even offering appealing alternative narratives. Policymakers, for instance, are moving from issues of risk management and resilience to dreams of preparedness through ‘calculable futures,’ where the value lost because of climate change is inscribable to a company’s financial report.
However, the recent pandemic, the Ukrainian war, mass migrations, long-lasting conflicts, the current rising inflation, the certainty of a global economic recession of biblical proportions, and the prospect of repetitive heat waves or floods and a new and long-lasting cold war make the balance between fear and hope tip towards a dystopian and eschatological future, where we are all discovering a second millenarianism some twenty years late.
After predominant beliefs in religion (e.g., in the Middle Ages), in the human being (e.g., with the Enlightenment), in science and technology (in the last century), utopias and their corollaries (magic in primis) are now resurfacing. They generate individual and collective actions that shape the emergence of a new but still fragmented institutional milieu that may eventually lead to new forms of organizational and social orders.
In this uncertain milieu, the 17th Organization Studies Workshop wants to offer an opportunity for debating the future of organization studies and discussing some of the most pressing concerns and responses of organizations and societies: Threats to democracy and human rights; Authoritarianism; Violence; War and Peace, New Digital orders, surveillance and changes in business models, organising forms and business models; hyper-capitalism, the birth of a new Empire and their alternatives; (de-/re) colonialization processes; the growing alienation and the lack of purpose at work and in life; the need for resilience, resistance, collaboration, and the feelings of hopelessness; racism; new forms of organizing leading to regeneration and sustainability as well as scalable and systemic transitions and transformations; inequalities; prefigurative spiritual, ecological, and social collectives, communities, and cooperatives; new alternatives, beginnings and the role of movements; the rise of emancipatory possibilities in the cracks of faltering social orders; climate change.
A full call for papers will be published on the Organization Studies website and on social media soon to introduce the customary Special Issue following each OS Summer Workshop. Meanwhile, please pencil in these dates!