New article on grand challenges

We live in troubled times. For long, humanity has sustained itself from the world’s resources. Recently, however, excessive production and consumption has threatened the “planetary boundaries” that sustain our existence, resulting in catastrophes such as biodiversity loss and the current climate crisis that we are in. At the same time, populism, extremism, and the polarization of societies is on the rise and social cohesion is under threat, with digital technologies allowing orchestrated misinformation campaigns to aggravate and challenge peace, democracy and social stability. In the context of these and other major societal concerns, it is apposite to ask what is the role of institutional theory in general, and in this case institutional logics in particular, in furthering our understanding of these so-called ‘grand challenges’.

This is what Laura, John and myself try to do in this article.

Grand challenges are fundamental societal concerns, and as such affect all of us in one way or another. We believe in the explanatory power and potential of the institutional logics perspective to further contribute to our understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our time. For this, we advocate for further reflection on four analytical dimensions: macro-level positioning, contextuality, temporality, and value plurality.

First, the notion of macro-level positioning links organizing principles to macro-level orders and embeds them in the interinstitutional system. It also embraces the environment as a key concern and logic. Second, contextuality moves away from a rather Northern-centric focus and takes into account the plurality of logics and their interaction across interinstitutional systems. Third, temporality is about the consideration of changing logics and logic constellations over time. Finally, value plurality brings back attention to the value-ladenness of logics themselves and offers a means to question concepts such as ‘the market’ and the market logic.

Integrating these four dimensions, we contend, will contribute towards a transformative institutional logics perspective in the sense that they offer key implications for our engagement with grand challenges. It will further open up opportunities for institutional scholars to make substantive contributions to society’s most pressing concerns.

Inclusive digital platform innovation in the face of COVID-19

Numerous digital platforms have emerged as a go-to response to the Covid-19 crisis – building on conventional platform characteristics, but using alternative, more inclusive organisational models.

Platforms face opportunities of market, motivation & momentum to address spatial, social & scale/speed challenges.

By offering the innovations that people most need right now, more inclusive platform alternatives may now have an opportunity to step up and secure a more significant role in the platform economy of the future.

The article is co-authored with Nicolas Friederici and Philip Meier.

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