Twenty-first International Conference on Knowledge, Culture, and Change in Organizations

Organized by: Common Ground Research Networks

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About This Event

Building Resilient Research Communities

To support the range of options, and flexibility needed, in our current climate we will offer a blended conference experience. You do not need to commit either to a place-based or virtual presentation at the time of submission. You can present both ways, or change your mode of the presentation if your preferences change. The choice to participate virtually could also be a moral decision – for the planet, for security, or when the financial burden of travel is too great. We aim to foster spaces that align with principles of social justice and community development -- particularly in difficult times.

We also want to be ready for the possibility of place-based postponement due to COVID-19. If we are forced to postpone, the online engagement will still go ahead, and your registration will allow you to join the conference in person in a later year.

This way we build for our Research Network Members flexible, and at the same time resilient, spaces for communication, engagement, and participation.

Themes and Special Focus

Founded in 1993, the Organization Studies Research Network comes together around a common concern for, and a shared interest to explore, new possibilities in knowledge, culture and change management, within the broader context of the nature and future of organizations and their impact on society. We seek to build an epistemic community where we can make linkages across disciplinary, geographic, and cultural boundaries.

The Twenty-first International Conference on Knowledge, Culture, and Change in Organizations calls for research addressing the following annual themes and special focus:

2021 Special Focus - Preparing Organizations for New Digital Futures: New Rules of Engagement for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?


2021 Special Focus - Preparing Organizations for New Digital Futures: New Rules of Engagement for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

As we move into a new epoch—a so-called fourth industrial revolution—defined by big-data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things, digitally informed organizational principles are being reconfigured. So, too, are logics of innovation, understandings of growth, and visions of human development. This structural transformation appears in the everyday: in how we communicate, collaborate, and understand rules of engagement, in the broader context of societies that are macro-organizations, and in how we situate the constellation of micro-organizations of personal and professional life. The challenges for organizations—for-profit, nonprofit, and governmental—is how to take advantage of the affordances of this Fourth Industrial Revolution. Internally, how do organizations offer new tools to foster the development of new competencies and deliver resources to frame human resource development? And in the broader context of societies, the challenge for the organization as "actor" within the community is how does what we do internally reflect, guide, or offer alternatives within broader scope of the societies in which we want to live? What are the ethical challenges, the notions of good citizenship, and ecological sensitivity they can be offered "out"? What are the intangible drivers that determine not only the livability of organizations for insiders but also their credibility and attraction to outsiders?

Themes & Tensions

Theme 1: Organizational Intangibles and Tangible Value

What are the intangible drivers which determine the livability of organizations for insiders and their credibility and attraction to outsiders?

Living Tensions:

  • Vision, strategy, and leadership: the top-down and bottom-up
  • Balancing internal and external intangible drivers
  • Creating the conditions of innovation
  • Managing intangibles for tangible outcomes
  • Building intellectual capital and maintaining intellectual property
  • Networks, clusters, alliances: building collaborative organizational cultures
  • Developing sustainable organizational cultures: government, community, and NGOs

Theme 2: Knowledge Economies as the Constant

Ours is the era of the knowledge economy, but when has this not been the truth?

Living Tensions:

  • Reconceptualizing ‘economy’ in knowledge societies
  • Blurring the boundaries: formal vs. informal learning, training, and education
  • An appropriate education for the new work orders: managing vs. preempting change
  • New types of organizations: what do you need to learn today, how to prepare for tomorrow
  • Technologies and organizational change: removing heritage systems and moving forward with new tech
  • Making the most of intellectual and human capital: understanding small data, aggregating big data
  • Addressing the divides: digital, development, social
  • Agonies of change: working with order and chaos; regularity and complexity

Theme 3: Organizations as Knowledge Makers

What is this nebulous thing ‘knowledge’ and how do organizations create, innovate, and manage it?

Living Tensions:

  • What is knowledge and what is the role of learning?
  • Who makes a knowledge worker: workplace vs lifelong learning?
  • The balance of personal capacity and organizational resources
  • Mentoring: where leadership means knowledge transfer
  • Restructuring: revamping, rethinking and reevaluation
  • Knowledge as a factor of production or an underlying expense?
  • Transforming personal knowledge into common knowledge

Theme 4: The Value of Culture and the Demand of Change

How do we guide change to social, stakeholder and market dynamics grounded in principles of ethics, equality and care for those in our organizations and the societies we live in?

Living Tensions:

  • What is organizational culture? ‘Organic’, ‘community’, ‘complexity’ and other metaphors
  • What makes a culture of success: negotiating past, present future
  • The balance of markets, clients, stakeholders and community expectations
  • Agonies of change: working with order and chaos; regularity and complexity
  • Productive diversity: capitalizing on human differences
  • The inclusive and supportive workplace: ethics, equality, care
  • Different ways of working?
  • Globalization, internationalization and organizational change
  • Legal and regulatory challenges in a constantly changing environment


  • Start Date:
    Fri, 15 Jan 2021
  • End Date:
    Sat, 16 Jan 2021
  • Proposal/Abstract/Paper Deadline:
    Tue, 15 Dec 2020