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SPECIAL ISSUE: "Organizing for Good"

Scholarly interest in grand societal challenges—climate change, biodiversity, health, hunger, poverty, exploitation, and so on—has increased considerably in recent years (Mahoney and McGahan, 2007; George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi and Tihanyi, 2016; Howard-Grenville, Davis, Dyllick, Miller, Thau and Tsai, 2019, Kunisch, zu Knyphausen-Aufsess, Bapuji, Aguinis, Bansal, Tsui and Pinto, 2020). The last few decades have seen the emergence of a substantial body of work making the theoretical and empirical case for corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable initiatives by for-profit firms (Margolis and Walsh, 2003; Flammer 2015; Kaul and Luo, 2018), especially those targeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Xu et al. 2021). In parallel, scholars have also explored a variety of organizational forms at the intersection of public and private interest (Mahoney, McGahan and Pitelis, 2009; Luo and Kaul, 2019).

Grand societal challenges have a number of characteristics that put organization design scholars in a unique position to contribute to tackling these issues. They are typically complex, large-scale problems (Ferraro, Etzion and Gehman, 2015; George, Howard-Grenville, Joshi and Tihanyi, 2016). Many of them are global challenges that, however, have very specific implications locally. Addressing them requires short-term action but with long-term time horizons. They also involve a range of actors and often require collective action outside hierarchies.

This special issue seeks to advance knowledge about the organization design of grand societal challenges, by imaging organization designs as problem-solving systems to foster collective action that is needed to solve these grand challenges. This includes not only the design choices required to successfully implement sustainability initiatives within existing organizations, but also new ways of organizing to meet the opportunities and challenges presented by the growing attention to these issues (Davis, 2016a, 2016b; Marquis, 2020). In other words, if the organizations we have today are not up to the task of creating a sustainable future for mankind, what new forms of organizing do they need to be replaced with?

For this special issue, we invite submissions that explore the nexus of organization design and grand societal challenges. Such research asks the question of how organization design thinking can contribute to tackling grand societal challenges and do good. Relevant research questions might include but are not limited to:

  • Does organizing for good require us to shift the dependent variable of interest away from firm profits, and if so, how do we achieve that in research and in practice?
  • What are the constraints and unintended consequences in organizing for good? What are some of the tradeoffs? And what organization design principles to employ to deal with these challenges?
  • Does the nature of SDGs give more prominence to temporal or more impromptu organizations? What are some of the robust organizational alternatives?
  • Could we compare international or national responses to Covid-19? What distinguishes states in the U.S. from others in dealing with Covid-19, and what are some of the design principles?
  • What type of organization design principles equip employees to have the assets and skills to problem solve (e.g., GE’s employees repurposing materials to produce ventilators)?
  • What does this mean for the relationship between private organizations, governmental institutions, and civil society?
  • What are organization design challenges and solutions to collective knowledge production?
  • How can organization design contribute to democratizing work? 
  • What are promising novel design approaches for organizing the use of emergent technologies such as AI to do good?
  • This special issue is part of the yearlong “Organizing for good” campaign, organized by the Organization Design Community.

Submission guidelines

We have a broad definition of what organization design is, but there should be some design aspect in each paper (or at least a discussion of the design implications). That said, the Journal of Organization Design is very inclusive with regard to perspectives, research traditions, etc. – papers should be fresh, provocative and high quality. The journal is also flexible in that we accept submissions in a number of article categories – not all papers need to be classical research articles. For instance, we are open to review and accept “point of view” papers, “translationals” (geared toward practitioners), “research primers” (introductions to a specific discussion), and more. Please see https://www.springer.com/journal/41469 for guidelines.  

Authors may choose to either (1) submit a full manuscript by September 30, 2022, or (2) submit a proposal by February 28, 2022, via http://www.editorialmanager.com/jorg. Proposals should be no longer than 3 pages single-spaced with standard 1-inch margins and in a 12-point font. References and article elements (to include tables, figures, and graphs) are not counted in the 3-page threshold and can be included at the end of the proposal. The editors will then provide feedback on the proposals and invite submission of full manuscripts by September 30, 2022. In either case, early submissions are welcome and will be reviewed right away. When asked whether you are submitting to a special issue, please choose “Yes” from the drop-down menu for the current special issue Organizing for Good. All papers submitted must represent original research not previously published elsewhere. All submissions will be subject to in-depth review.

Further information

Questions pertaining to this special issue may be directed to:

Oliver Baumann (oliv@sam.sdu.dk)

Jerry Davis (gfdavis@umich.edu)

Sven Kunisch (skunisch@btech.au.dk)

Jiao Luo (luoj@umn.edu)

Brian Wu (wux@umich.edu)

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