Organization, Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Enjoyed teaching a seminar that conjoins research on organization, social entrepreneurship and innovation (OSEI) with methodologies to study these topics empirically. Sessions were divided into two parts. The first part engaged with research topic specifics such as organizing in and for society, leading social change, social innovation, social entrepreneurship, new forms of organizing and grand challenges, and scaling social change. It commenced with an overview into the theme followed by short student presentations of research articles and in-depth discussions about articles to unpack their implications, interrelationships and conceptual and practical consequences. The second part prepared students for their own work by focusing on research methodologies such as approaching cases, doing field research, and writing up research reports. The course thus bridged high quality global research and local empirical cases.

Some objectives:

  • to familiarize students with some of the core concepts and theoretical underpinnings around organization, social entrepreneurship, and social innovation
  • to help students gain a stronger understanding of, and think critically about, this domain, including its research requirements and methods for publishing scholarly research
  • to use a format through which students can further develop the analytical, discursive and writing skills needed as a scholar
  • to offer a forum for developing, refining, and presenting own research ideas


Course schedule:




1 14.10.2019 Introduction
2 28.10.2019 Organizing in & for Society – Case Selection
3 11.11.2019 Leading Social Change – Methodological Considerations
4 25.11.2019 Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship – Field Research
5 09.12.2019 New Forms of Organizing & Grand Challenges – Research Dynamics
6 06.01.2020 Scaling Social Change – Writing up Research Reports
7 20.01.2020 Re-view & out-look

Algorithms at work

Just read a new, critical & constructive piece by Kellogg, Valentine & Christin on algorithms at work.

Let me offer a very brief summary:

I. Affordances of algorithmic systems: 1. Comprehensive 2. Instantaneous 3. Interactive 4. Opaque.

II. Algorithmic control: Direct workers (1. Restrict 2. Recommend), Evaluate workers (3. Record 4. Rate), Discipline workers (5. Replace 6. Reward).

III. Worker experience: 1. Manipulation 2. Disempowerment, 3. Surveillance 4. Discrimination 5. Precarity 6. Stress.

IV. Forms of algoactivism to resist control: 1. individual action 2. collective platform organizing 3. discursive framing around algorithmic fairness, accountability & transparency 3. legal mobilization on employee privacy, discrimination, worker classification & data ownership.

V. New forms of work & occupation: Algorithmic 1. Curation 2. Brokerage 3. Articulation.annals

The abstract: The widespread implementation of algorithmic technologies in organizations prompts questions about how algorithms may reshape organizational control. We use Edwards’ (1979) perspective of “contested terrain,” wherein managers implement production technologies to maximize the value of labor and workers resist, to synthesize the interdisciplinary research on algorithms at work. We find that algorithmic control in the workplace operates through six main mechanisms, which we call the “6 Rs”—employers can use algorithms to direct workers by restricting and recommending, evaluate workers through recording and rating, and discipline workers by replacing and rewarding. We also highlight several key insights regarding algorithmic control. First, labor process theory helps to highlight potential problems with the largely positive view of algorithms at work. Second, the technical capabilities of algorithmic systems facilitate a form of rational control that is distinct from the technical and bureaucratic control used by employers for the past century. Third, employers’ use of algorithms is sparking the development of new algorithmic occupations. Finally, workers are individually and collectively resisting algorithmic control through a set of emerging tactics we call algoactivism. These insights sketch the contested terrain of algorithmic control and map critical areas for future research.

Article nominated for VHB Best Paper Award 2020

Our article that engages with themes such as elastic hybridity, complexity, paradox, resilience & purpose is nominated for the VHB Best Paper Award 2020. The VHB is the German Academic Association for Business Research.

List of nominated papers:

Press release in German:

Press release in English:

About the article: We explain that existing approaches to managing hybridity focus on solutions that are organizational, structural and static. These approaches manage institutional tensions on behalf of employees. Yet, where competing values are incompatible and central to both the organization and the fundamental beliefs of its employees, it is impractical for an organization to prescribe how individuals manage them.

We outline polysemy and polyphony as mechanisms that dynamically engage conflicting logics through an organizational-individual interplay. Borrowing from paradox theory, they explain how hybrids can empower individuals to fluidly separate and integrate logics when neither structural compartmentalizing nor organizational blending are feasible because management cannot prescribe a specific balance of logics. The result is a state of elastic hybridity, constituted through the recursive, multi-level relationship between polysemy and polyphony. Elastic hybrids maintain unity in diversity. Like the bank, they are capable of institutionally bending without organizationally breaking and thus enable individuals to practice more of their personal convictions at work while still experiencing a sense of shared organizational purpose.

DFG Network “Digital Strategizing”

The German Research Foundation (DFG) has approved funding for a new scientific network on strategizing in a digital economy. Digital technologies increasingly affect the process of strategy-making – they impact how actors craft, understand, and execute strategies. Despite the impact of the ‘digital’ on strategy-making, strategy research on this topic is still in its infancy. The goal of this research network is to build a community of scholars interested in the topic of digitalization of strategy-making, to develop a joint research agenda, and to stimulate high-quality research on this topic.

The network is organized by Thomas Gegenhuber (principal investigator), Maximilian Heimstädt, Georg Reischauer, and Violetta Splitter. As a member of this scientific network I enjoyed our first meeting at WU Vienna in November 2019. More to come.

Leading through vucap

Leaders oftentimes depict their situation as what may be summarized with the acronym vucap. Vucap stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity, and paradox. It is vuca + paradox. While much of what can be resolved, can also be delegated, the essence of leadership may lie in the non-resolvable grey area of vucap. Central to leadership then is the ability to navigate across shades of grey – or shades of vucap.

For more see a short video here and an article here.vucap

Unity in Diversity in Organizations & Society

A new article co-authored with colleagues Michael Smets and AMJ coverTim Morris has been published at the Academy of Management Journal. It is entitled ‘God at Work’: Engaging central and incompatible institutional logics through elastic hybridity and examines how the first Islamic Bank in Germany maintains unity in diversity by forming what we call an elastic hybrid that remains resilient despite contradictory beliefs and values that persist over time. We show how the bank is capable of institutionally bending without organizationally breaking enabling individuals to practice more of their personal convictions at work while still experiencing a sense of shared organizational purpose.

Implications for politics

Implications for politics can be read in-between the lines: Populist advocate for homogeneity as it reduces complexity. It puts us into boxes and separates us. Populists stand for this approach. Effectively, they compartmentalize societies. In contrast, heterogeneity is much more challenging, but also more rewarding. Heterogeneity is not just blending: we do not become all the same, but we cope with this diversity – with unity in diversity. Our societies become elastic, accommodating, and enriched by plurality. I believe, this is one of the fundamental social and societal challenges of our time: do we embrace the complexity of humankind or do we attempt to reduce it?

Some coverage in English: 1, 2 & German: 3, 4, 5

Bildungsrealismus & -pragmatismus

Kommentar zum Artikel “Genug der Apokalypse

Professor Pörksen spricht von der Mitte der Gesellschaft,Screenshot 2018-12-13 at 12.16.09 sieht sie aber meines Erachtens nicht in der Gesamtheit, sondern vielmehr im Durchschnitt. Es geht uns in der Tat durchschnittlich sehr gut. Sozial bröckelt es an den Rändern: Antisemitismus, Übergriffe auf Minderheiten und Geflüchtete. Die AfD symbolisiert und repräsentiert diese Trends – am rechten Rand. Die Benennung dieser Phänomene ist kein Fatalismus, auch wenn sie fatal ausfallen könnten, und kein apokalyptischer Pessimismus, auch wenn sie in einer Apokalypse münden könnten. Sie sind vielmehr eine reale und realistische Zustandsbeschreibung. Recht hat Herr Pörksen, wenn er schreibt, die Argumentation darf nicht deterministisch geführt werden. Die Temporalität des Seins wird häufig übersehen und von der AfD zum Nationalsozialismus ist es ein weiter Weg. Aber: wenn jemand wie Professorin Foroutan von präfaschistischen Zeiten spricht, dann ist es genau das Präfix „prä“, das eine solche Relation herstellt und uns wachrütteln –  nicht resignieren – lassen soll. Es ist keine apocalypse now, aber eben durchaus möglicherweise eine apocalypse tomorrow.

Es braucht also einen Realismus in der Zustandsbeschreibung und dann zielgerichtete Lösungsansätze. Gerne können diese auf eine optimistische Gesellschaft treffen. Nur müssen sie sich in der Realität bewähren. Herr Pörksen schreibt, Pessimismus sei der Mangel an Ideen. Jein! Es bedarf Ideen, aber eben auch der Umsetzung. Innovation ist Idee plus Implementierung. Ich denke, Ideen haben wir einige. Es fehlt an der Fähigkeit und den Willen mit pluralen Meinungen und Ideen gemeinsam umzugehen, um Einheit in Vielfalt zu schaffen. Dafür braucht es nicht einfach einen Bildungsoptimismus, sondern eine Bildungsbefähigung: eine Ermächtigung durch Bildung und Wissenschaft, um einerseits mit pluralen Ansätzen umgehen und anderseits die großen gesellschaftlichen Herausforderungen unserer Zeit angehen zu können.

Mit anderen Worten: es braucht einen Bildungsrealismus & -pragmatismus.

Ein paar weitere Gedanken hier unter ‘Weisheit’ und hier zur Humboldt’schen Bildungsrenaissance.