Archiv des Autors: Ronald Hartz

„Ökonomie und Ideologie“ – Call for Abstracts | Employment Relations

Hier der Hinweis auf einen spannenden Call for Abstracts zum Thema „Ökonomie und Ideologie“ für das Jahrbuch „Ökonomie und Gesellschaft“, Band 2020: „Ökonomie und Ideologie“ – herausgegeben von Wenzel Matiaske (Helmut-Schmidt-Universität / Universität der Bundeswehr Hamburg) und Werner Nienhüser (Universität Duisburg-Essen). Abstracts sind bis zum 31.5.2019 einzureichen:

Quelle: „Ökonomie und Ideologie“ – Call for Abstracts | Employment Relations

„Solidarität in der Arbeitswelt“ – Schwerpunktheft der Zeitschrift Industrielle Beziehungen

[reblogged from Employment Relations]

Neuerscheinung: Schwerpunktheft der Zeitschrift Industrielle Beziehungen „Solidarität in der Arbeitswelt“, herausgegeben von Karina Becker, Ulrich Brinkmann und Stephan Voswinkel

Aus dem Editorial der Herausgeber*innen:

„Solidarität ist zweifellos ein, wenn nicht der normative Kern der Gewerkschaftsbewegung und die Institutionen der Industriellen Beziehungen (Koalitionsfreiheit, Tarifvertrag, betriebliche Interessenvertretung, Sozialstaat) sind ohne Bezug auf sie nicht vorstellbar. Man könnte sich darüber wundern, dass erst jetzt ein Heft in Angriff genommen wird, das sich schwerpunktmäßig mit Solidarität in der Arbeitswelt beschäftigt. Wir meinen, dass dieses Schwerpunktheft gerade jetzt zur rechten Zeit erscheint und zwar deshalb, weil Solidarität auch und gerade im Feld der Industriellen Beziehungen umstritten und gefährdet ist und hinsichtlich der Frage, was Solidarität in der Praxis ausmacht und einschließt, alles andere als einhellig beantwortet wird. Schon seit längerem kennzeichnen Individualisierung, Ent-Kollektivierung, Exklusions- und Abgrenzungstendenzen das Forschungsfeld; parallel dazu lassen sich neue, translokale Formen von Solidarität beobachten. Vor diesem Hintergrund ist die wissenschaftliche Beschäftigung mit Solidarität nötig, überfällig, aber auch herausfordernd.“

Das Editorial sowie alle weiteren Informationen zum Sonderheft findet sich unter folgendem Link: Sonderheft Industrielle Beziehungen (Jg. 25, Heft 4)

Mit Beiträgen von:

  • Nora Lohmeyer, Elke Schüßler, Markus Helfen: Kann Solidarität „von unten“ in globalen Zuliefererketten organisiert werden? Der Fall ExChains
  • Martin Seeliger: Die soziale Konstruktion internationaler Solidarität. Gewerkschaftspolitische Positionsbildung im Bereich der Dienstleistungsfreiheit
  • Klaus Kock, Edelgard Kutzner: Arbeit als kollegiales Handeln – Praktiken von Solidarität und Konkurrenz am Arbeitsplatz
  • Daniel Behruzi: Kampfmethode Ultimatum. Von disziplinierender Kollegialität zu widerständiger Solidarität – Fallbeispiele aus dem Gesundheitswesen
  • Horan Lee, Ronald Staples: Digitale Solidarität unter Arbeitnehmer*innen

Quelle: Neuerscheinung: Schwerpunktheft der Zeitschrift Industrielle Beziehungen: „Solidarität in der Arbeitswelt“, herausgegeben von Karina Becker, Ulrich Brinkmann und Stephan Voswinkel | Employment Relations

CfP – ‘Theoretical Perspectives on Organizations and Organizing in a Post-Growth Era’


‘Theoretical Perspectives on Organizations and Organizing in a Post-Growth Era’

Guest Editors

Bobby Banerjee, Cass Business School, City University of London, UK

John Jermier, University of South Florida, USA

Ana Maria Peredo, University of Victoria, Canada

Robert Perey, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

André Reichel, International School of Management, Germany


The purpose of this special issue is to broaden and intensify the discussion of ways humanity might disengage from the putative imperative of unbridled economic growth. In the course of the last century, this imperative has come to dominate the priorities of scholars, policy-makers and ordinary citizens. The assumption that economic growth is an absolute requirement of the global political economic system is so entrenched that it is rarely questioned by mainstream economists (Daly, 2013) and is perhaps even more taken for granted in the field of organizational and management studies. Growth forecasts are de rigueur both at the macroeconomic level and at the industry or corporate levels. However, as Jackson (2009: 123) points out, mainstream economics is ‘ecologically illiterate’ because its preferred indicators of success, like Gross Domestic Product (GDP), that purportedly reflect a ‘strong’ economy, do not account for ecological destruction and the undermining of the quality of life on earth that inevitably accompanies unbridled economic growth. Even alternative measures of success, like the Genuine Progress Indicator, that attempt to quantify so called externalities and weigh in positive social and environmental contributions (e.g., housework and child care) and the Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations do not systematically question the primacy of growth (Banerjee, 2003; Jermier, 1998; Reichel et al., 2016). To illustrate, the UN Sustainable Development Goals have ‘sustainable growth’ targets assessed with GDP. Similarly, the influential Stern report (The Economics of Climate Change) claims that ‘the world does not need to choose between averting climate change and promoting growth and development.’ Even more audaciously, Stern claims that ‘with strong, deliberate policy choices, it is possible to decarbonize both developed and developing economies on the scale required for climate stabilization, while maintaining economic growth in both’ (Stern, 2006: xi). As Fournier (2008: 529) puts it, perhaps it is the ideology of growth – ‘a system of representation that translates everything into a reified and autonomous economic reality inhabited by self-interested consumers’ – that is the problem.

To escape the tyranny of narrow conceptions of growth, we believe it is necessary to critically re-examine economic and social relations in organizations and relations between organizations and the natural environment. Hence, for this special issue, we invite scholars to reflect on how economic growth is conceptualized (implicitly or explicitly) in existing theoretical frameworks and in the paradigmatic underpinnings (often functionalist) of these frameworks. Relatedly, we think it is essential to reimagine organizations and their impacts under macro-economic conditions characterized by decoupling of resources, steady-state system dynamics, or even conscious degrowth1—which requires a radical paradigm shift and other fundamental changes that can elevate human happiness, well-being, quality of life and other non-economic criteria from the periphery to the center of organizational analysis.

Critiques of unbridled economic growth are not new. The radical notion of degrowth, (décroissance–meaning economic contraction or downscaling—Latouche, 2004), however, presents organizational and management scholars with a paradigmatic challenge and with opportunities to reframe the field and its core set of assumptions. Degrowth is not a particular theory as such but can be described as mot obus, a ‘word grenade’ or ‘missile word’ that aims to create new visions of social, ecological and economic transformations; it is ‘a political slogan with theoretical implications’ (Latouche, 2009: 7). Degrowth authors challenge institutions that frame the economic, political and cultural dimensions of capitalism and neoliberalism, arguing that our current institutions have created the social-ecological crises we now face. Degrowth thinkers question the ongoing relevance of these institutions and their effects in their current (and incrementally reformed) configurations. For example, advocates of degrowth challenge the assumptions of green growth and sustainable development and argue that it is not possible to decouple economic growth from material and energy flows.

In ecological economics, degrowth is described as an ‘equitable downscaling of production and consumption that increases human wellbeing and enhances ecological conditions at the local and global level, in the short and long term’ (Schneider et al., 2010: 513). However, degrowth is not just about producing or consuming less but also involves a repoliticalization of the economy and a radical break from conventional economic thinking because growth economies and societies do not know how to degrow (Fournier, 2008; Latouche 2004). Degrowth distinguishes well-being and prosperity from economic growth and aims to promote economic democracy and social justice and a ‘concern for a fair distribution (intergenerational and intragenerational) of economic, social and environmental goods and bads at all time-lines’ (Demaria et al., 2013: 202). Degrowth is not the same as austerity, which is a neoliberal project. In fact, as Chertkovskaya et al. (2017: 200) point out ‘arguments for austerity are always made in the name of growth’. More radical concepts related to degrowth include sharing, simplicity, conviviality, care, the commons, new forms of cooperatives, production for use, voluntary rather than wage labor, gifts/barter rather than profit (D’Alisa et al., 2015; Fournier, 2009). The emphasis is not on ‘less’ but ‘different’: ‘different activities, different forms and uses of energy, different relations, different gender roles, different allocations of time between paid and non-paid work and different relations with the non-human world’ (D’Alisa et al., 2015: 4).

Critiques of growth that emerged in mainly European contexts are also closely related to critiques of development in Latin America and Asia. Advocates of ‘post-development’ call for alternatives to development rather than development alternatives and the need to decenter development as a central discourse that represented reality for much of the global south (Escobar, 2011; 2015; Esteva et al., 2013; Sachs, 1992). Alternatives include movements like Buen Vivir (Gudynas, 2011; Kothari et al., 2015; Peredo, 2018), which emerged from indigenous struggles against development projects in Latin America and which reflect indigenous ontologies that require ‘the subordination of economic objectives to ecological criteria, human dignity, and social justice’ (Escobar, 2015: 455).

But there has been much less consideration of how organizations, as social institutions, serve the dominant growth assumption and give it momentum. Organizations that arise, survive and perhaps even flourish in an environment where the need for continual growth is taken for granted are shaped by that environment in ways that may not be transparent to their members. These considerations apply to organizational forms in general, but they arguably come to a head with business models. It is significant that in a special issue concerning ‘Business Models for Sustainability’ (Organization & Environment, 2016), some papers made no mention of growth or saw it only in terms of a standard requirement of business; one saw ‘de-coupling economic growth from physical resource consumption growth’ as something ‘that might need to be considered in future business models’ (Wells, 2016: 40); two papers devoted somewhat more attention to the possibility that growth might need to be limited (Gauthier & Gilomen, 2016; Upward & Jones, 2016); another suggested that organizational forms might be used to address concerns about growth (Abdelkafi & Täuscher, 2016). And after nearly 25 years since the establishment of Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) as a division of the Academy of Management, we have seen only occasional arguments that fundamentally challenge dominant views of organizations (and the growth imperative) or that provide alternative paradigmatic and critical theory perspectives: the primary focus of ONE research is on incremental change and ‘managing’ environmental issues (Banerjee, 2011, Jermier, 2014). It is hard not to see a gap here.

Key questions relevant to scholars of organizations and organizing emerge as we begin to take seriously alternatives to traditional, growth-driven societies. The questions center on revised notions of fiduciary responsibility, fundamentally different forms of organizing (e.g., B corporations, social enterprises, the resurgence of cooperatives), and firms engaged in developing the circular economy as first priority (cf. Peredo & Chrisman, 2006; Perey et al., 2018). Questions also center on the role played by organizational cultures, structures, technologies, human resource ideologies, environmental management practices, and processes of organizational change–first in sustaining the traditional growth paradigm, and second in framing and bringing alternative paradigms forward.

Imagining a society without growth poses an immense challenge. Conventional economic wisdom tells us that resisting growth leads to poverty and economic and social collapse. Yet, ecological wisdom posits that unbridled economic growth leads to economic collapse and social collapse. Alternative visions call for abandoning an economy based on accumulation and embracing an economy of restoration and distribution. If advocates of narrow concepts of growth claim that ‘growth is a substitute for redistribution’ (Hickel, 2017), then the task in a postgrowth era is to create a system where redistribution becomes a substitute for growth. How this is to be achieved remains a profound challenge for society and organizational scholars. Proponents of the degrowth initiative argue that it clearly calls into question the capitalist assumptions prevailing in the industrialized world (Boillat et al., 2012). Others maintain that the degrowth movement allies with calls for ecological justice, another fundamental challenge to prevailing economic arrangements at all levels (Martinez- Alier, 2012).

Our aim for this Special Issue is to invite scholars from different disciplines to address these challenges. Are there theoretical resources in the management and organizational studies field (and/or in source disciplines) that generate new and fruitful questions about degrowth? Can the degrowth and post-growth paradigm enrich theoretical thinking about organizations and organizing? Are there new empirical questions that flow from the juxtaposition of the growth critique literature and the mission and typical subject matter published in Organization? We are seeking theoretical and empirical papers that harness the growth critique literature and elaborate it in new and bold ways of relevance to organizational and management studies scholars and to scholars in related fields. We invite papers that explore a wide range of themes and questions including the following:

  • Which theories of organization and organizing are least compatible with the growth critique literature and in need of revision or sidelining? Which theories hold the most promise for a post-growth era? Are there new theories that must be authored for a post-growth world?
  • What are the silences and absences of theorization about growth and what alternatives to growth are being conceptualized in institutional and organizational analyses?
  • Are all forms of growth bad? What would good growth look like, theoretically and ethically? How will we know good growth?
  • What are the different units of analysis (macroeconomic, institutional, country specific, organizational) of degrowth and how should degrowth be theorized and assessed at different levels of analysis?
  • What macro and micro level transformations are needed to abandon growth and embrace alternatives to growth? How should these transformations be theorized?
  • What are the organizational implications of degrowth? What ideal types and other models of organization are needed in a postgrowth era?
  • What are the theoretical impacts on business models for organizations operating in a degrowth world?
  • What are the institutional foundations of growth ideology? What impacts do these foundations have on organizations and individual actors? What theories help answer these questions?
  • How does degrowth impact levels of inequality in societies and organizations? What radical theories need to be developed to link degrowth and inequality?
  • What do we measure as success or prosperity if we are not placing our faith solely in economic growth? How can we theorize organizational effectiveness without submitting to the traditional growth imperative?
  • What power and political structures maintain the primacy of growth in institutions and organizations? How are alternatives to growth delegitimized by these forces of power?
  • How would we theorize strategies of resistance to institutionalized growth?
  • How does degrowth thinking transform models of North-South relationships?
  • What forms of political and economic transformations in, between and among organizations will need to take place if degrowth is to be achieved?
  • In what unique ways can feminist theories of growth/degrowth address ecological, social and economic problems?
  • Can theorists learn lessons from indigenous cultures or practices concerning the structure of a zero growth economy?

Submission to the special issue

Papers may be submitted electronically from 30 April 2019 until the deadline date of 30 May 2019 (final deadline) to SAGETrack at:

Papers should be no more than 10,000 words, excluding references, and will be blind reviewed following the journal’s standard review process. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the guidelines published in Organization and on the journal’s website:

Call for Papers – „Social Innovation in Education“, Special Issue in OA Journal Frontiers in Education

Call for Papers – Special Issue in Open Access Journal Frontiers in Education

Researchers with an interest in social innovation in education should take a look at this call for papers. Deadline for abstracts is January 25, 2019. Papers will be published in a special issue (research topic) of Frontiers. Please note that Frontiers is an open access journal. Link to CfP:

„Post-Growth Organizations“ – Special Issue in Management Revue – Part 2

MREV_Cover_4_2018The final three articles of our Special Issue on „Post-Growth Organizations“ are published now. Many thanks to all the contributors and the reviewers!

For more information follow the link:

The first part of the Special Issue (including the Editorial) can be found here:

CfP – CMS 2019 Sub-theme 2: Between subjugation and emancipation: Recognizing the power of recognition

We are pleased to announce that our Call for Papers for the CMS Conference 2019 is now online. Deadline for Abstracts is the 31st January 2019:

The 11th International Critical Management Conference 27th – 29th June 2019, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, UK

SUB-THEME 2: Between subjugation and emancipation: Recognizing the power of recognition


Gabriele Fassauer (Dresden University of Technology, Germany)

Ronald Hartz (University of Leicester, UK)

Gazi Islam (Grenoble Ecole de Management, France)


Recognition is an important factor shaping individual and collective well-being, dignity and flourishing, both within organizations and in society more generally (Honneth 1996; Fraser and Honneth 2003; Sayer 2007a, 2007b). For many researchers on management and organizations, recognition is an implicit “affirmation of the social-affective bond between members” (Islam, 2012: 38). Recognition is constitutive for people’s identity-building, their sense of dignity and corresponding self-respect (Grover, 2013; Hancock, 2016; Holtgrewe, 2001; Islam, 2013; Sayer, 2007a). Considered as fundamentally interdependent, people are viewed as “needy beings” that are capable of suffering and flourishing depending on other´s recognition (Sayer, 2007b: 23). Recognition is understood as the intersubjective acknowledgement of value of a person´s behaviours, actions and identities, which supports “a feeling that one is living a worthwhile life and a confidence in one’s ability to do what one considers worthwhile” (Sayer, 2005: 954). Recognition is thus inevitably aligned with a moral dimension of society, economy and organizations as it refers to basic notions of how people should treat each other (Honneth 1996; Sayer, 2005). One of the most elaborated ways to anchor the idea of recognition in social theory was provided by Axel Honneth (1996), an intellectual successor of the Frankfurt School and critical theory. For Honneth, the struggle for recognition, as both a cognitive source for subjectivity and an affective basis of self-esteem, is part of the human condition and one of the drivers of social progress and betterment (Honneth 1996; Fraser and Honneth 2003).

However, recognition is also discussed in the French tradition of structuralism and poststructuralism, which conceptualizes recognition as basis of the development of self-consciousness and identity-building inescapable linked to forms of subjugation and power (e.g. Althusser, 2014 [1970]; Foucault, 1982; Butler, 1997). From this perspective, people’s desire for recognition is intermingled with power and control mechanisms that serve the perpetuation of societal as well as organizational power structures and domination. Organizations are one of the important economic and social formations “[w]here social categories guarantee a recognizable and enduring social existence” (Butler 1997: 20). But, as Butler continues, “the embrace of such categories, even as they work in the service of subjection, is often preferred to no social existence at all” (ibid.). Giving voice to the complexities arising from these two traditions of thinking about recognition, our stream aims to develop a more fully-fledged notion of recognition at the workplace. We welcome conceptual and empirical papers that deal with questions of recognition at the societal, organizational or individual workplace level and which pay tribute both to the emancipatory and subjugating character of recognition. Related topics can be various and could address, but are not restricted to the following questions:

  • What are the potentials of different contexts of work and forms of organizing in terms of people´s emancipation and subjugation through recognition? What roles, for example, do people´s age, gender, sexual orientation or cultural background play in recognition dynamics?
  • How is recognition played out at the workplace? What are the desires, practises, and conflicts of recognition? Which consequences can be observed for people´s well-being and suffering?
  • How do issues of recognition relate to current debates around identity-based politics in organizations and society? How can a recognition lens help develop a critical theory to understand diverse forms of domination and resistance?
  • What are the complementarities and/or contradictions between struggles for recognition and struggles for redistribution? How can recognition theorizing help understand tensions between economic and symbolic forms of politics at work?
  • Which differences exist between alternative organizations and conventional forms of organized work in terms of recognition?
  • How do new technologies and emerging forms of organizing work change established orders of recognition?
  • What are the historical paths of struggles for recognition in organizations? How are they related to societal shifts and developments?
  • What are the potentials as well as limits of consolidating different theoretical angles of recognition, especially regarding the ‘camps’ of critical theory and poststructuralism?

Submission of abstracts:

Please send abstracts or any questions to Gabriele Fassauer (

Abstracts should be a maximum 1000 words, A4 paper, single spaced, 12-point font.  Deadline 31st January 2019.

Notification of paper acceptance: 1st March 2019.

Full papers will be expected by 1st June 2019.


Your abstract should include:

– Title

– The focus and objectives of the paper

– How the paper will contribute to the theme



Althusser, L. 2014. On the reproduction of capitalism. Ideology and ideological state

apparatuses. London, New York: Verso.

Butler, J. 1997. The psychic life of power. Theories in subjection. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press.

Foucault, M. 1982. The subject and power. Critical Inquiry 8 (4), 777-795.

Fraser, N., & Honneth, A. 2003. Redistribution or recognition? Verso, London, NY.

Grover St. L. 2013. Unraveling respect in organization studies. Human Relations 67 (1), 27-51.

Hancock, P. 2016. Recognition and the moral taint of sexuality. Threat, masculinity and Santa Claus. Human Relations 69 (2), 461-481.

Holtgrewe, U. 2001. Recognition, intersubjectivity and service work: Labour conflicts in call centres. Industrielle Beziehungen 8 (1), 37-55.

Honneth, A. 1996. The struggle for recognition. Polity Press, Cambridge (MA).

Islam, G. (2012) Recognition, reification and practices of forgetting: Ethical implications of

human resource management. Journal of Business Ethics, 111 (1), 37-48.

Sayer, A. 2005. Class, moral worth and recognition. Sociology 39 (5), 947-963.

Sayer, A. 2007a. Dignity at work: Broadening the agenda. Organization 14 (4), 565-581.

Sayer, A. 2007b. Moral economy and employment. In S. C. Bolton and M. Houlihan (eds.), Searching for the human in human resource management, (pp. 21-40). Palgrave, London.

New Publication – Special Issue: Post-Growth Organizations. management revue – Socio-Economic Studies, 29(3)

„[T]he notion of post-growth organizations tries to capture both the fissures of the
growth narrative in the existing capitalism as well as the utopian energies of alterna-
tive  forms  of  work  and  organization  actively  promoting  a  turn  away  from  the
growth path.“ (from the Editorial)

The first part of our Special Issue on „Post-Growth Organizations“ is now out in management revue. The content of the special issue as well as the editorial of Matthias Rätzer (Chemnitz University of Technology), Ingo Winkler (University of Southern Denmark) and myself can be found here:

Articles in this issue:


The final three articles of the SI will be published in issue 4/2018.


Teaching alternative forms of work and organization – Audebrand/Camus/Michaux (2017): A Mosquito in the Classroom

To learn and to teach something about alternative forms of work and organization is one of the urgent tasks of critical management and organization studies. However, one of the most striking problems in teaching alternatives is the lack of imagination, that is the idea that these are real and possible alternatives. As Gibson-Graham (2006: XV) write about their own experiences: „In the face of a new discourse of the diverse economy, participants in our projects can easily recognize the activities and enterprises it names, but they cannot readily identify with the alternative subject positions it avails. Most of them get up in the morning wanting a job – and if not wanting one, feeling they need one – rather than an alternative economy”.

One idea to cope with this problem seems to reframe it or to tackle it in a roundabout way. Luc Audebrand and colleagues introduce cooperatives into the classroom via the topic and reflection of paradoxes in organizations. They argue that “despite the absence of the cooperative business model in mainstream management textbooks and curricula, this model can offer a high pedagogical value for management education in that it can foster paradoxical thinking” (Audebrand et al. 2017: 216).

Said this, we can think about several other topics which makes it possible to introduce alternatives. Just think about power, participation, democracy or sustainability and maybe then alternatives are just around the corner or at least are worth to talk about it in the classroom.


Audebrand, Luc K., Annie Camus, und Valérie Michaud. 2017. A Mosquito in the Classroom: Using the Cooperative Business Model to Foster Paradoxical Thinking in Management Education. Journal of Management Education 41 (2): 216–248. doi: 10.1177/1052562916682552. []

Gibson-Graham, J. K. 2006. The end of capitalism (as we knew it). A feminist critique of political economy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Call for Papers – 37th Labour Process Conference, Vienna 2019

The 37 th  International Labour Process Conference 2019

‘Fragmentations and Solidarities’

University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

24-26 th  April 2019

Abstract submission through the ILPC website ( will open at the start of
June 2018 with a deadline of October 26th 2018.

Exzerpt from the Call:

„The conference organizers welcome papers on any issue concerning the analysis of labour processes, labour markets, labour organising and labour reproduction. The  2019  conference  will  additionally  focus  on  ‘Fragmentations  and  Solidarities’  in contemporary work and employment relations. Recent developments in the economy and society  challenge  the  institutional  frameworks  of  employment,  accelerating  the  ongoing processes of deregulation and flexibilisation. This reiterates segregation along the lines of gender, ethnicity and qualifications and creates new formal and symbolic boundaries within the  workforce.  Furthermore,  transnational  forms  of  work  organization  and  global  value
chains modify and partly intensify the divisions of labour, deepening the unequal distribution
of wealth, ecological hazard, and risk to health and social security among employees in the
world. Global inequality, in return, pushes workers to leave their home countries and migrate
to adjacent or more distant formal or informal labour markets, raising the issue of solidarity
within  and  between  the  formally  and  informally  employed  workforces.  Finally,  new
technologies appear to increase their impacts in uncertain directions: augmenting the share
of  knowledge  work  and  improving  skill  levels,  threatening  jobs,  and/or  increasing  the
pressure on workers and the scope of managerial control. There is considerable risk of new
fragmentations  of  employment  according  to  different  skill  levels,  forms  of  contract  and
locations of work.“

Conference website with complete Call for Papers:

Call for Papers – Contested realities of the Circular Economy

Contested realities of the Circular Economy

Call for papers for a special issue of Culture and Organization

Volume 26, issue 2, 2020

Submission deadline November 15th 2018.


Guest editors: Hervé Corvellec (University of Lund), Steffen Böhm (University of Exeter), Alison Stowell (Lancaster University) and Francisco Valenzuela (University of Chile)


This call for papers invites contributions that question the Circular Economy in innovative ways. In the past few years, the Circular Economy (Stahel 2016) has surfaced as a reference framework for economic, industrial, and environmental strategies and policies for different organizations, such as: the government of the People’s Republic of China and the European Union; the World Economic Forum, Zero Waste Europe and Greenpeace; and mega companies such as Cisco, H&M and Renault, as well as activist associations promoting bulk retail, repair, sharing, and other instances of sustainable consumption.

Chinese and European politicians and bureaucrats, top-level managers, and activists join in a plea to replace today’s take-make-use-waste economic system, called the Linear Economy, by an economic system where materials and goods circulate in circular ways. Drawing on the 4R-model (Reduce, Reuse, Refurbish, Recycle), the Circular Economy is to turn waste into resource, and lay the groundwork for a zero waste economy (Greenpeace 2016). Industrial circles are to mimic natural circles (McDonough and Braungart 2009; Ellen MacArthur Foundation and McKinsey Center for Business and Environment 2015) to develop and prolong resource productivity (Blomsma and Brennan 2017), create closed loop production and consumption systems (Hobson 2016), manage material scarcity (Bermejo 2014) and integrate economic activity and environmental wellbeing (Murray, Skene et al. 2017). The Circular Economy is to decouple environmental pressures from economic growth (Ghisellini, Cialani et al. 2016) and allow for an economic growth respectful of the planet’s boundaries (H&M 2014).

But what is this more than enthusiastic reception of the Circular Economy a sign of? The emergence of new marketing languages and imaginaries (den Hollander, Bakker et al. 2017)? A genuine ground for green-and-lean consumption (Tukker 2015; Pollard, Turney et al. 2016), and sustainability-aware  subjectivity (Jones 2010)? A new sustainability paradigm (Geissdoerfer, Savaget et al. 2017)? The ground for a new material and environmental ethics (Gregson, Crang et al. 2015)? A way to replace the negative connotation of sustainability and sustainable development with a positive view of relationships between economy and environment (Valenzuela and Böhm 2017)? Another avatar of ecological modernization (Gregson, Crang et al. 2015)? A new form of greenwashing – circular washing – aimed at creating a diversion from the need to fundamentally re-think rules of natural resource uses? There is a need to critically engage with the discourses and practices of the Circular Economy, examining its assumptions, claims, contradictions, and therefore limits.

This special issue aims at bringing together critical, interpretive and theory-driven papers that go beyond the often repeated, but largely a-historical, a-practical, and a-theoretical, claims that the Circular Economy will help organizations solve 21st century problems. There is, for example, a rich history of economic and social practices (think of the frugality of survival practices during various wars) that could be seen as precursors of the Circular Economy, and one might ask: If such practices have been around for some time, why have they not been able to address the questions the Circular Economy aims to answer? Likewise, the Circular Economy has a lot to say about materials and their flows, but very little about humans and the social dimension of circular activities (Bozkurt and Stowell 2016; Gregson, Crang et al. 2016). Based on what we already know of the global flows of recycling today (Alexander and Reno 2012; Carenzo 2015), what are the work and labour implications of circular-economic practices in terms of race, class, gender, geographical and distributional justice? Equally, how can one conceptualize the changes in the subjectivities and responsibilities of producers and consumers in a circular economy; will there be winners and losers? Are consumers aware that in a circular economy they will not own anything but would become totally dependent on their instant payment- and creditworthiness?

We welcome contributions that address the organisational and social aspects of the Circular Economy, including questions of power, process, and labour; its cultural aspects, including symbolic, political, and historical dimensions; its theoretical aspects, including how the Circular Economy relates to organizational theories of sustainability, change, and materiality; and its ethical aspects, including questions of justice, Otherness, and responsibility. Here is an indicative, arbitrary and in no way exhaustive list of possible topics:

  • Ethnographies of organizational transitions to the Circular Economy, including specific aspects of such transitions, such as product design, restorative and regenerative strategies, and the development of circular business models.
  • People at work in the Circular Economy: organizational, local, regional, and global approaches.
  • The Circular Economy and innovation, for example recycling techniques, technologies, information technology and social media.
  • Organizing materials in a circular economy, from mines to landfills (and the atmosphere) via storehouses and homes.
  • Scales of circularity: micro-, meso- or macro-loops?
  • The Circular Economy and systemic transformations of consumption.
  • Circular-economic governance: soft, strict, or otherwise (e.g., nudge), exploring, in particular, the role of incentives and legislation.
  • The Circular Economy and master-metaphors: from utopias to dystopias, from socialism to sustainable development, and from the myth of the eternal return to the Anthropocene.
  • The management of externalities in the Circular Economy.
  • The Circular Economy experience of countries at war, for example Nazi Germany, but also of countries under embargo, for example Cuba.
  • Regional differences in the Circular Economy, for example between the “Global North” and the “Global South”; circular economy and de-globalization.
  • Examining the discursive development of the Circular Economy, focusing on the roles of key organizations and institutions, such as the Ellen McArthur Foundation, McKinsey, the European Union and the World Economic Forum.
  • Deconstructing the Circular Economy discourse, for example, how the European Union connects the Circular Economy to safety as much as environmental sustainability.
  • The Circular Economy as aesthetic, but also as play, derision, irony, and provocation.
  • How the contemporary circular economy fails.
  • The Circular Economy as paradigm shift.

Qualitative papers that open new spaces of reflection and understanding of the Circular Economy in organizations are welcome, regardless of their theoretical sources of inspiration. Innovation in writing and composing style are also welcome. In addition to scholars working in management and organization studies we therefore welcome contributions from – inter alia ­- anthropology, sociology, philosophy, politics, art history, communication, film, gender and cultural studies.

Submission and informal enquiries

Please ensure that all submissions to the special issue are made via the ScholarOne Culture and Organization site at You will have to sign up for an account before you are able to submit a manuscript. Please ensure when you do submit that you select the relevant special issue (Volume 26, Issue 2) to direct your submission appropriately. If you experience any problems, please contact the editors of this issue.

Style and other instructions on manuscript preparation can be found at the journal’s website: Manuscript length should not exceed 8000 words, including appendices and supporting materials. Please also be aware that any images used in your submission must be your own, or where they are not, you must already have permission to reproduce them in an academic journal. You should make this explicit in the submitted manuscript.

Manuscripts must be submitted by November 15th 2018.

Prospective authors are invited to discuss manuscript ideas for the special issue with the guest editors before the deadline for submissions.  They can be reached via e-mail at: SICANDO@TELIA.COM



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