Business and Management INK

In this article, Ann Langley, Rikkie Albertsen, Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari, Katrin Heucher, Marc Krautzberger, Pauline Reinecke, Natalie Slawinski, and Eero Vaara reflect on the inspiration behind their research article, “Strategizing Together for a Better World: Institutional, Paradox and Practice Theories in Conversation,” found in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Bridging across theory silos is necessary to be able to strategize together for a better world. While management scholars have been shifting their research towards societal challenges, there is a need to continue to provide new insights by working collectively on these complex problems.

The paper “Strategizing together for a better world: institutional, paradox and practice theories in conversation” is based on a symposium held at the 2022 Academy of Management Annual Meeting. In this article, we present a discussion moderated by Ann Langley between established scholars in the field of grand challenges – Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari, Natalie Slawinski, and Eero Vaara – focusing on the role of institutional, paradox, and practice theories in research on grand challenges.

We bring these theoretical perspectives into conversation, reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the lenses, and discuss potential intersections for future research on grand challenges. We highlight how well these lenses connect, how much this connection inspires our theory development, and how it contributes to dealing with grand challenges. These three quotes from the panel debate capture this in the words of the panelists:

“If it weren’t for this session, I don’t know if I would have dug so deeply into how to combine these different theories. And now I’m seeing all kinds of possibilities in my own research for how to bring in more of a practice and/or institutional lens together with paradox theory.”

Natalie Slawinski

“Connecting a detailed analysis of practices with broader issues of institutional change would help us a great deal to better understand the processes and mechanisms of change, and to comprehend how particular practices, especially practices of decision-making and strategizing enable or impede change. Finally, paradoxical tensions are also very closely related to a practice-based angle when analyzing tensions and struggles and how to deal with them.”

– Eero Vaara

“Barbara Gray was mentioning […] that we have to think beyond the self and get to ‘we-thinking’ which is a commons approach … We believe that this idea of a commons logic, how it emerges, gains traction, picks up momentum, and diffuses in different ways is an exciting area for both research and practice to collectively tackle the grand challenges that we confront.”

Shaz Ansari

In the article, we discuss how bringing paradox, institutional and practice theories together can contribute to (1) overcoming limitations of concepts and theories, (2) bringing new forms of materiality into our theorizing that really matter in addressing grand challenges, (3) provide better advice to practitioners and (4) overcoming – at least in parts – the theory-practice gap we are confronted with.

We, the organizers Rikke Albertsen, Katrin Heucher, Marc Krautzberger and Pauline Reinecke, are thrilled to see how this idea for a panel, which emerged from our own discussions across these theoretical lenses at an EGOS PDW, grew into such an insightful panel. We are pleased that these insights and discussions can now reach an even larger audience through publication in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Therefore, we would like to conclude with a call to action for bringing the need for collaboration associated with grand challenges into theorizing – in order to develop better theories for strategizing together for a better world.

Ann Langley (pictured) is a WBS Distinguished Research Environment Professor in organization and work group at the Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick. Her academic research focuses on management and organization, and she published multiple high-level research articles. Rikkie Albertsen is a PhD fellow in the Department of Management, Society and Communication at Copenhagen Business School. She has research interests in understanding and exploring the gap between the sustainability objectives of corporate companies and their actual sustainability contributions. Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari is a professor of strategy and innovation at the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School. He is the head of the strategy and international business subject group, a professorial fellow at St Edmund's College, and has research interests in framing and social movements, platform ecosystems, and the diffusion of practices. Katrin Heucher is a tenure-track assistant professor in the faculty of economics and business at the University of Groningen. She also currently serves as the theme coordinator of sustainability and future prosperity and has research expertise in organizational sustainability and strategic change processes. Marc Krautzberger is a lecturer in strategy at the University of Edinburgh Business School. He received his PhD at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany, and uses his research as an opportunity to blend organization theory with qualitative research methods. Pauline Reinecke is a doctoral assistant researcher at the University of Hamburg. She has research interests in the grand societal challenges of emerging technologies (such as circular economy and artificial intelligence) and has been published in a variety of academic journals, including the Journal of Information Technology, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, and the Journal of Business Economics. Natalie Slawinski is the Director of the Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation at the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria. She is also a professor of sustainability and has research interests in temporality and paradoxes in organizations and sustainability. Eero Vaara is a professor in organizations and impact in the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. He is one of the world's leading experts on narrative and discursive perspectives and has research interests in strategic and institutional change.

View all posts by Ann Langley, Rikkie Albertsen, Shahzad (Shaz) Ansari, Katrin Heucher, Marc Krautzberger, Pauline Reinecke, Natalie Slawinski, and Eero Vaara

Related Articles

How AI-Integration is Changing the Workplace
Business and Management INK
May 28, 2024

How AI-Integration is Changing the Workplace

Read Now
Keeping Qualitative Research Weird!
Business and Management INK
May 23, 2024

Keeping Qualitative Research Weird!

Read Now
Sometimes, We Do Need a Narcissist
Business and Management INK
May 21, 2024

Sometimes, We Do Need a Narcissist

Read Now
From Collision to Collaboration: Bridging University and Industry Relationships
Business and Management INK
May 17, 2024

From Collision to Collaboration: Bridging University and Industry Relationships

Read Now
Motivation of Young Project Professionals: Their Needs for Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, and Purpose

Motivation of Young Project Professionals: Their Needs for Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, and Purpose

Young professionals born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s now constitute a majority of the project management workforce. Having grown up connected, collaborative, and mobile, they have specific motivations and needs, which are explored in this study.

Read Now
A Complexity Framework for Project Management Strategies

A Complexity Framework for Project Management Strategies

Contemporary projects frequently pose complexities that cannot be adequately tackled by the classical project management tradition. This article offers a diagnostic tool to help identify the type of complexity of a project and determine the most suitable strategy for addressing it.

Read Now
Exploring Discrimination Faced by Asian Nationals in the U.S. Labor Market

Exploring Discrimination Faced by Asian Nationals in the U.S. Labor Market

Amit Kramer, Kwon Hee Han, Yun Kyoung Kim, and Yun Kyoung Kim reflect on the hypotheses and observations that led to their article, “Inefficiencies and bias in first job placement: the case of professional Asian nationals in the United States.”

Read Now
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments