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JMS Conference, Cambridge, March 2014

Friday 23 August 2013

 Managing Complexity Within and Across Organizational Boundaries


An International Conference Sponsored by the Journal of Management Studies and the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies


Møller Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge, UK


24th-26th March 2014



Claims that we are living through a period of unprecedented volatility, complexity and even chaos are not new. Consultants and business gurus routinely pronounce epochal shifts and put forward prescriptions for managing in a complex age. Social scientists have produced a variety of labels in attempts to capture what they see as the essence of changes, for example the ‘network society’ (Castells), the ‘risk society’ (Beck), the ‘audit society’ (Power). While many of the claims that are made about increasing complexity are hyperbolic, inevitably there is some element of truth underpinning them. Changes in technology, markets and regulatory frameworks coalesce to produce a situation in which organizations must operate in increasingly complex and pluralistic environments. As well as increased complexity in the business world, organisations must increasingly engage with actors outside the economic domain, for example NGOs.


This conference seeks to explore responses to complexity within and across organizations. Among the key changes which appear to be contributing to greater complexity are:


·         The emergence of new economic and political powers that question traditional governance structures and management practices.


·         Increasingly complex regulatory frameworks, with a plethora of regulatory institutions at local, provincial, national, regional and global levels.


·         Increased scrutiny of organizational actions rendering ceremonial responses to complexity ever more problematic.


·         New technologies which allow rapid transmission of data and assets between individuals, markets and organizations.


We seek empirical and conceptual papers, which address organizational responses to complexity from a variety of conceptual and methodological perspectives. We do not favour any particular epistemological or theoretical perspective and indeed we wish to attract a diverse range of papers. Areas which papers might explore include, but are by no means limited to:


·         Do we need new theoretical frameworks and/or methodologies to make sense of complexity? What do the changes mean for the working lives and practice of scholars of management and organization?


·         What are the performance implications of complexity for different kinds of organizations in different kinds of environmental settings?


·         What are the implications of complexity for different facets of management such as strategy, entrepreneurship, and HRM?


·         Have organizations become more complex in response to complex environments? If so, what does this imply for organizational management and organizational behaviour more generally?


·         What are potential intra-firm and inter-firm governance structures and management practices that might help organizations in addressing the increased complexity in their environment?


·         What critical issues are raised by responses to increasing complexity? Are there winners and losers for instance? Whose interests are served and whose may be marginalized?


·         What are the implications of increasing emphasis on management practices geared towards external actors such as NGOs? Do these practices reinforce or challenge societal inequalities and power imbalances?



Keynote Speakers


Michael Power is Professor of Accounting and Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation (CARR) at the London School of Economics. He has held visiting fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin and at All Souls College, Oxford. His research and teaching focuses on regulation, accounting, auditing, internal control and risk management. His major work, The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification (Oxford, 1999) has been translated into Italian, Japanese and French.



Haridimos Tsoukas is the Columbia Ship Management Professor of Strategic Management in the University of Cyprus, Cyprus and a Distinguished Research Environment Professor of Organization Studies at Warwick Business School, UK. He has published widely in several leading academic journals, including the Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, and Human Relations. His research interests include: knowledge-based perspectives on organizations; the management of organizational change and social reforms; organizational becoming; practical reason and the epistemology of practice; and meta-theoretical issues in organization theory.



Call for Participation


There is no conference fee and we encourage a variety of modes of participation, from the presentation of academic papers to the contribution to debate through taking on the role of discussant.


In addition to leading academics in the field of management studies, the conference will also bring together promising new researchers. Limited travel and accommodation bursaries may be offered to outstanding doctoral students.



Call for Papers


An abstract of up to 1,000 words should be submitted by 16.00 GMT, 30th September 2013 by email to Margaret Turner at:


Acceptance of abstracts will be notified by 29th November 2013.


Full papers to be submitted for circulation by 16.00 GMT, 21st February 2014.


Authors of papers presented at the conference will be invited to submit their papers for possible publication in the Journal of Management Studies.





If you wish to attend the conference as a discussant please register your interest with Margaret Turner:

Conference organizing committee


Professor Penny Dick, Professor Dries Faems, Professor Bill Harley, and the editorial management team of Margaret Turner and Ruth Booth.


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