Second ISA Forum of Sociology, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1-4 August 2012

Research Committee on
Sociology of Organization, RC17

  on-line programme

Programme Coordinators

RC17 Liaison in Argentina
Bernardo Maresca, Asociación Argentina de Sociología,

Volunteer at the venue
Barbara Mabel Rodríguez Ayala,


All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.


provisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order


Globalisation and its impacts on professions and organisations

Joint session of RC17 Sociology of Organizations [host committee] and RC52 Sociology of Professional Groups
Globalisation has certainly exercised a deep impact on professional occupations, organisations and their work. The rise of the global professional service firm (GPSF), employing thousands of professionals in dozens of jurisdiction and generating multi-million pound profits, is one of the most notable expressions of this. Another important example is the emergence of broadly similar models of organising the public sector and the professions, like the ‘new public management’ paradigm. At the same time, professions have played a growing role in facilitating processes of economic globalisation providing the knowledge, systems and practices that may support global capitalism but also local elites.

Particularly interesting here has been the active role played by professional organisations and occupations in lobbying for regulatory changes in the way that markets are structured and business is conducted within developing economies. Professions are also driving public sector reforms that are modelled upon global concepts of modernisation attempting to improve social justice and democratisation. This session seeks to draw our attention to a number of key issues relating to the remodelling of professional occupations and organisations through the lens of globalisation.


Organizational critique before (and after?) Critical Management Studies/ Mechanisms of innovation

Critical Management Studies (CMS) has accompanied Management Studies in universities and business schools as a kind of Greek choir seeking to balance the, often Panglossian, language of management and business studies with critical reflection on the effects management discourses and practices have on individual lives, or on the governance of states. CMS has tended to orientate itself theoretically towards contemporary Continental (European) social theory and philosophy and has made, perhaps surprisingly, little use of earlier organizational sociology.

This call proposes to look both backwards – in the fashion of Paul Adler’s recent collection (The Oxford Handbook of Sociology and Organization Studies, 2009) – and forwards. The session invites papers examining organizational sociology as a potential resource of more empirically grounded and middle-range theories that might move CMS beyond its current focus and concerns. Earlier generations of organization sociologists (the late Philip Selznick being a prime example) were motivated by both pragmatic and political concerns. Would a revival of this ‘spirit’ of practical and well as theoretical engagement help ground CMS and orient it towards the conference themes: social justice and democratization?

In a separate strand, the session also invites papers addressing mechanisms of innovation. Today, most innovation processes take place within individual organizations or even at an inter-organizational level. In these contexts, innovation is no longer regarded as extraordinary, but part of daily activities. Paradoxically enough, innovation has become routine. As a result, innovation activities in a variety of domains – e.g. economy, science, and politics – are highly standardized and institutionalized both within and between organizations. For a better understanding of innovation as an institutionalised process, it is essential to analyze the mechanisms which emerge in this context. Innovation mechanisms (e.g. based on copying, combining heterogeneous knowledge and networking) are not conceived here as deterministic causal relationships, but as linkages of various kinds that connect different elements of the social world such as interpretation frames, practices or relationship patterns.


Organizations and mixed methods: Possibilities and requirements of a meso-level sociology

Joint session of RC17 Sociology of Organizations and RC33 Logic and Methodology in Sociology [host committee]
Organizations are a complex and hybrid social phenomenon at the meso-level. They are characterized by internal decision-making processes which are guided and constrained by formal structures such as memberships, procedures and roles, but also by discourses, routines and informal dynamics of power. Moreover, they are not isolated units, but rather embedded in wider social contexts and environments which influence them and which they shape in return.

While there are some efforts to grasp this complexity in organizational theory by developing organizational models which also encompass the cultural and societal dimension of the organization (e.g. in neo-institutionalism, structuration theory or systems theory), the field of organization studies is dominated by empirical studies which focus on only individual or limited facets of the phenomenon.

This is also due to the fact that different methodological approaches are seldom combined. Thus, quantitative surveys of a specific type of organization or of organizations in a specific environment are only loosely connected to the numerous “thick” qualitative descriptions of organizational structures and processes available in case-studies concerning single or few organizations.

Beyond triangulation, mixed-methods-designs not only try to increase validity of the analysis, but integrate multiple perspectives to draw a more accurate picture of phenomenons in social life. In case of organizations we think that strengthening the links between different methods would contribute to a better informed understanding of the organization as a whole and of the variety of organizational forms.

At the same time, the organization could be a privileged object of study for a thread of methodological research which tries to combine methodological approaches, in particular the formerly considered contrary qualitative and quantitative paradigms, into new forms of epistemologically grounded research designs.

The session aims to explore possible combinations of methods in order to design multilevel analyses of modern organizations. Papers for this session should therefore address one or more of the following questions: Papers debating general methodological questions and papers discussing specific forms of mixed-methods-designs to inquire organizations in a specific research project are both equally welcome.


Organizing climate change

The issues surrounding the politics and organization of responses to climate change should be at the heart of the sociology of organizations because it is organizations that are both the major sources of emissions that are causally related to climate change and the policies that may engender some solutions. In the context of these organizational challenges, this proposal aims to enhance theoretical and empirical understanding through theoretical and empirical papers that address the following topics:


Organizing global and domestic finances

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society [host committee] and RC17 Sociology of Organizations
Recent fluctuations in finance have important implications for contemporary sociology. The impressive technological transformation of financial markets since the 70s attracted the attention of Science and Technology (STS) scholars who have made a very convincing case for introducing non human agents (such as: screens, formulae, trading rooms, and economics itself) as essential characters of economic lives. Related work has drawn attention to the processes through which an apparently ever increasing array of objects are measured, calculated, valued, qualified, financialised or in some other sense `economized`.

More recently, the sub-prime crisis has dramatically exposed how finance is not just a dis-embedded game played by a global elite, but is intricately tied to domestic economies. In this context, increasing sociological attention is given to the analysis of retail finance (such as mortgage and consumer credit) and insurance, and the complex socio-technical chains that connect these services (through risk ratings, securitization, and even public guaranteed credit) and global markets.

Finally, the crisis has become a compulsory impulse to rethink classical concerns in economic and organisational sociology, such as the relationship between the economic and the `social`, between regulations and the management of technological uncertainty and the balance between market, quasi-market and non-market players in the organization of global finance. What all these developments point to is the significance of the techniques, technologies, processes and practices which combine to organize global and domestic finance. Papers responding to or extending these issues are welcome.


Organizing markets

Joint session of RC02 Economy and Society and RC17 Sociology of Organizations [host committee]
“Organizing a market” is normally associated with central planning. However in neo-liberal contexts markets are also organized. In this latter case organization has to do with both the already classical sociological suggestion that exchange is embedded in institutions and regulations, as well as the consequences of a particular form of government that has proliferated since the late seventies, namely producing markets. In this context, markets have been created in areas as diverse as education, health, transport, housing and even pollution. To describe and to understand these processes has become one of the central concerns of contemporary sociology.

Some of the issues that have gathered more attention are: the consolidation of economics as a global advisory profession and the performative character of this type of knowledge; the costly processes of enacting the subjects and objects of exchange (firms, consumers, goods, price making mechanisms); and the continuous surprises and conflicts produced when the outcomes of the markets are not what were expected (failures, crises, crashes).

In this session, we welcome articles that both describe the process of producing and organizing markets as policies and that use their evidence not only to criticize marketization but also to reflect on how sociological knowledge could be useful to find better and alternative forms of managing these complex organizations.


RC17 Business Meeting


Responsibility, participation and communication in organisations Experiencias de participación y comunicación: responsabilidad social en organizaciones de Latinoamérica


What Makes an Organization


What makes consumer market organizations?

This session focuses on the ways in which management and marketing knowledges, techniques and technologies have helped make consumer market organizations in both historical and contemporary settings. In the contemporary context, attention has focused on developments in the use of digital transactional data; that is data produced as a by-product of transactions in both online and traditional retailing, within what has been called ‘commercial sociology’. Such developments seem, through the combination of relationship marketing, Web 2.0 applications and relational management software to promise profound changes in the way organisations ‘know’ and manage their relationships with their consumers. Customer Relationship Management techniques together with the proliferation of transactional data have implications which stretch far beyond consumer marketing.

In offering new ways of aggregating and disaggregating populations and individuals these developments appear to disrupt divisions between quantitative and qualitative ways of knowing offering new forms of measurement and valuation. These new hybrid forms of measurement and valuation are set to work not only in the context of consumer market organisations but in a wide range of organizational settings including government, education and healthcare. Yet the role of subjective, qualitative judgements in quantitative measurement has a long and complicated intellectual history as theorists like Ian Hacking, Theodore Porter have explained.

Early twentieth century marketing techniques from informal product testing, coupon return analysis, research interviews and questionnaires suggest a practical and pragmatic acknowledgment of the ‘dirty’ interdependence of qualitative and quantitative means of knowing. Papers that explore the role of marketing and management theory and practice in making consumer market organisations whether from the vantage point of consumers, markets or organisations in contemporary or historical settings are welcome.




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International Sociological Association
November 2012