Browsing by Subject "agency"

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  • Moser, Christine; Reinecke, Juliane; den Hond, Frank; Svejenova, Silviya; Croidieu, Grégoire (2021-02-22)
    In this introduction to the special issue, we first provide an illustrative overview of how food has been approached in organization studies. We focus on the organizing of food, that is the organizational efforts that leverage, shape and transform food. Against this backdrop, we distinguish the agency of organizations and the agency of food and explore their intersection. We argue that the ‘biomateriality’ of food, i.e. its biomaterial qualities, plays a distinctive role in shaping and affecting organizing and organizations. To do so, we present a conceptual framework for analysing food organizing, which highlights the biomateriality of food and its agentic effects on organizational efforts. Thus, we provide researchers with an analytical toolkit to disentangle the different agents (people, organizations, food itself) and the associated processes and mechanisms that play a role in food organizing. We use this analytical toolkit to introduce the different articles in the special issue and put forward some lines of future research.
  • Lindeman, Sara (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2018-01-19)
    This thesis studies early-phase market organizing. Contrary to dominant views of markets as neutral backgrounds to economic activity, in this work markets are understood as socio-material systems that are shaped by the actors involved in the organizing process. In affluent settings, such as Europe, market organizing processes have been going on for centuries. To ethnographically study the very early phases of market organizing, the empirical work is performed in subsistence settings, i.e. resource-constrained areas currently served by the informal economy. The empirical data were collected in informal urban settlements and remote rural areas in Tanzania, Brazil, Ethiopia and India. The purpose of this thesis is to study early-phase market organizing in subsistence settings and its implications on capabilities for achieving well-being. Based on the capability approach, the thesis takes a holistic and multi-level approach to well-being. An improved understanding of early-phase market organizing processes, studied in settings not strictly conditioned by the path taken in affluent economies, can open up possibilities to see and encourage alternative and more sustainable ways of market organizing. The research shows that market organizing begins when an augmented discussion starts around trade exchanges. This discussion includes creating rules and norms to discipline exchanges as well as ways of representing the exchanges. Values guide this discussion, and participating in it requires that actors engage in new practices and often also that they form new organizational entities. In addition, early phase market organizing is characterized by a mobilization of various resources that improve market actors’ abilities to act in and shape markets. In the empirical cases, intermediary organizations, such as local NGO’s, were instrumental in empowering subsistence communities so that they could actively take part in the market organizing process. The dominant debate suggests that individuals will benefit from markets by getting employment and access to improved products and services. However, this thesis shows that when local communities organize themselves and are empowered to actively participate in the market organizing process, this results in market arrangements that better deliver capabilities for achieving well-being.
  • Koveshnikov, Alexei (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-05)
    Multinational corporations (MNC) are often presented as powerful but ‘faceless’ institutional actors that shape the world we live in. However, we have lately seen increasing interest in actual ‘faces,’ that is the key actors, behind the MNC’s functioning in relation to the cases of fraud and bankruptcy that, together with other factors, led to the severe financial crisis at the end of 2000s. The cases of Enron and Lehman Brothers easily come to mind. It raised concerns that power abuses and tricky political games developing and proliferating within MNCs can have tremendous corporate as well as societal impacts and consequences. Yet, as of now, the micro-level power and political relations between actors in MNCs and their implications, i.e. what I call in this thesis ‘micro-politics,’ are seldom examined. Moreover, neither is the role that the institutional, cultural and sociopolitical contexts play in these micro-political relations among actors within MNCs sufficiently understood. Against this background, in this thesis I attempt to give ‘a face’ to the MNC. That is, I apply a number of ideas from comparative institutional theory, social cognition and translation studies to examine micro-political aspects of the interactions between organizational actors in MNCs that determine how these corporations function both on day to day basis and in a longer run. By so doing, I strive to offer a more nuanced, contextualized, and actor-focused sociological understanding of power and political interactions among organizational actors within the MNC. It is important to study and comprehend these processes in order to better explain them and to some extent control them.
  • Välikangas, Liisa; Carlsen, Arne (2019-04-01)
    How can a desire for rebellion drive institutional agency, and how is such desire produced? In this paper, we develop a theory of minor rebellion as a form of institutional agency. Drawing from the work of Deleuze and Guattari as well as from notions of social inquiry and the sociology of punk, we qualify and illustrate minor rebellion as a lived-in field of desire and engagement that involves deterritorializing of practice in the institutional field. Three sets of processes are involved: (i) minor world-making, through establishing the aesthetics and relations of an outsider social network within a major field, including the enactment of cultural frames of revolt and radicalism; (ii) minor creating, through constructing and experimenting with terms, concepts, and technology that somehow challenge hegemony from within; and (iii) minor inquiring, through problematizing social purposes and the related experiential surfacing of the desirable new. Minor rebellion suggests a new solution to the paradox of embedded agency by describing institutional agency as shuttling between political contest and open-ended social inquiry, involving anti-sentiments, but also being for something. The paper also contributes to recasting institutional agency as a process resulting from emergent collective action rather than preceding it. To illustrate our theorizing, we describe the emergence of Robin Hood Asset Management, a Finnish activist hedge fund. At the end of the paper we discuss how minor rebellion raises new questions about the multiplicities and eventness of desiring in institutional agency.
  • Ahlvik, Catarina (Hanken School of Economics, 2019-08-12)
    Today, the word mindfulness is so widely used that the profundity of this practice is sometimes overlooked. Furthermore, some articles, mostly in practitioner-oriented journals, have raised the concern of mindfulness practice having a pacifying effect on employees. This concern often stems from the notion of mindfulness having a non-judgmental component and the fear that this component may create complacency in the workplace. This is, however, a misreading of the practice, as non-judgement in this context refers to how to skillfully relate to one’s own experience. A non-judgmental attitude or attitudes such as acceptance and self-compassion are qualities that can facilitate contact with uncomfortable experiences and may thus diminish impulsive or defensive reactions. Thus, a non-judgmental attitude does not refer to complying with potentially disharmonious external conditions; rather, it enables turning towards and experiencing the present circumstances exactly as they are. In this thesis, I tackle this question in detail both theoretically and empirically, and show that mindfulness develops personal resources and may indeed be a powerful trigger for agency. Agency here refers to purposeful engagement with the social context, aiming to alter or maintain that context. Specifically, I argue that mindfulness may trigger what I refer to as institutional awareness, that is the ability to be aware of the emotional and cognitive impact of the institution in which you are embedded. Furthermore, I empirically show that mindfulness supports change-oriented behavior in organizations and that it does so through facilitating autonomous choice. Choices and actions are seen as autonomous when they are congruent with a person’s authentic interests and values. In line with previous research in clinical settings, I also show that mindfulness reduces, stress, burnout and increases the ability to detach from work after working hours. These findings are the result of a large-scale randomized field intervention, where 130 managers from four organizations in Finland participated in an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course.