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?

Sustainable Development Goals & Academia

I gave an interview (in German) on researching new forms of organizing such as social entrepreneurial ventures, incubators & discourse spaces and how these tackle grand challenges. The interview also includes some reflections on the Zahnräder Network:

17 Ziele in der Wissen­schaft: Neue Räume für neues Denken

Armut, Hunger, Klima­wandel – ohne Frage große Heraus­for­de­rungen unserer Zeit. Wie innovative Organi­sa­ti­ons­formen diese Themen angehen, dazu forscht Dr. Ali Aslan Gümüsay an der Univer­sität Hamburg. Seit 2018 leitet er das von der Deutschen Forschungs­ge­sell­schaft geför­derte Netzwerk „Grand Challenges & New Forms of Organizing“. Er ist Mitgründer des Zahnräder Netzwerks und lebt mit seiner Familie in Hamburg. Ein Gespräch über große Heraus­for­de­rungen, wissen­schaft­liche Leiden­schaft und persön­liches Engagement.ali-guemuesay_img_1430


Sharing Economy, Grand Challenges & Refugees

sharingNew piece on the sharing economy, grand challenges, social movement, platforms, and refugees fresh out at Academy of Management Discoveries. My commentary on the article by Martin Kornberger, Stephan Leixnering, Renate Meyer & Markus Höllerer.

The sharing economy is frequently linked to companies such as Airbnb and Uber that enable “collaborative consumption” (Botsman & Rogers, 2010), that is people make their personal belongings (e.g., vehicles, homes) or services (e.g., workforce) available to virtual strangers through community-based online services (Hamari, Sjöklint, & Ukkonen, 2016; Mair & Reischauer, 2017). Platform companies are not sharing their resources, but share other people’s resources. In these cases, resources that were private like a home or car become goods or services. A novel reservoire of goods and labor is marketized and employed in the capitalist system through digital technologies. Sharing is an increase in the utilized capacity of resources.

However, these types of sharing have a bitter-sweet aftertaste, because they effectively sell – not share – temporarily resources through platform economies without a shared sense of caring. By combining two organizational types, platform and social movement, to a novel form of organzing, the authors potentially present a means to allow the sharing of resources without the surplus value being taken by few companies. Value and values are aligned into a value(s) pursuit (Gümüsay, 2017) and sharing becomes both a transaction and interaction as well as an economic and moral activity.

Hybrid organizing in the face of grand challenges

This CBS BOSarticle appeared on the Copenhagen Business School the Business of Society blog.

Sharing is not always caring

In 2015, thousands of refugees arrived in Europe. A recent paper by Kornberger and colleagues (2017) zooms in on the “Train of Hope”, a civil society organization that organically gained exclusive operational command at Vienna’s main train station during this refugee crisis. The paper is a critical reflection on much of the current sharing economy ‘hype’. In contrast to cases of “collaborative consumption”, where platform companies such as AirBnB or Uber offer (share?) other people’s resources, this is an exemplary case of engagement and sharing without expectations for direct individual return: a sharing of a concern for social well-being. Sharing then becomes caring. …

For the full article please visit the Business of Society blog.

New scientific network “Grand Challenges & New Forms of Organizing”

The German Research Foundation has approveddfg funding for our scientific network. Over the next 3 years the network studies the relationship between societal grand challenges and new forms of organizing.

Grand challenges represent fundamental, global societal challenges of ecological or social nature that require coordinated and collective efforts of multiple actors, including business firms, governments, civil society, and academia. Solving problems like global poverty, climate change or precarious working conditions that emerged as an effect of digitalization and the “sharing economy” are key challenges both for researchers as well as practitioners. At the same time, opportunities arise when considering the role of new technologies and approaches to address grand challenges. They enable the emergence of new forms of temporary, flexible and fluid organizing that may be necessary to discern possible solutions. Yet, academic research that examines the reciprocal relationship between grand challenges and new forms of organization is still nascent.

This network takes an organizational theory perspective on the reciprocal relationship by asking two interdependent research questions. The first question is: What is the relationship between new forms of organizing and grand challenges? Our aim to theorize this relationship is not without complications: On the one hand, examining new forms of organizing in light of grand challenges requires a high degree of theoretical and methodological pluralism in our research. On the other hand, devising practically and managerially relevant solutions requires some degree of consensus among the academic community. The second research question that this network therefore seeks to address is: How can scientific research develop consistent practical implications despite the theoretical and methodological pluralism that pervades organizational research?

Graphical overview:graphical overview

Further information:

Project Duration

June 2018 – May 2021

Funding Agency

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Principal Investigator

Dr. Ali Aslan Gümüsay

Cooperation Partners

Dr. Emilio Marti
Prof. Dr. Hannah Trittin
Dr. Christopher Wickert

Network Members

Dr. Marlen de la Chaux
Prof. Dr. Anja Danner-Schröder
Dr. Katharina Dittrich
Prof. Dr. Leonhard Dobusch
Dr. Sascha Friesike
Prof. Dr. Thomas Gegenhuber
Michael Grothe-Hammer
Dr. Ali Aslan Gümüsay
Dr. Arne Kroeger
Dr. Emilio Marti
Prof. Dr. Dennis Schoeneborn
Prof. Dr. Elke Schüßler
Prof. Dr. Hannah Trittin
Dr. Matthias Wenzel
Dr. Christopher Wickert

The Religious Institutional Logic

Happy to announce that the article “The Potential for Plurality and Prevalence of the Religious Institutional Logic” has been published at Business & Society.

Religion is a significant social force on organizational practice yet has beenBAS1 relatively underexamined in organization theory. In this article, I assert that the institutional logics perspective is especially conducive to examine the macrolevel role of religion for organizations. The notion of the religious logic offers conceptual means to explain the significance of religion, its interrelationship with other institutional orders, and embeddedness into and impact across interinstitutional systems. I argue for intrainstitutional logic plurality and show that specifically the intrareligious logic plurality has been rather disregarded with a relative focus on Christianity and a geographical focus on “the West.” Next, I propose the concept of interinstitutional logic prevalence and show that the religious logic in particular may act as a metalogic due to its potential for uniqueness, ultimacy, and ubiquity. Through illustrations from Islamic Finance and Entrepreneurship, I exemplify implications of logic plurality and prevalence for organizations and societies.bas