Consequences of a Liquid Mandate: World Economic Forum and the Partial Organizing of Global Agendas

Adrienne Sörbom, Christina Garsten

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    This paper describes and answers the question how the WEF creates a strong position for itself in the global arena, without a formal and institutional mandate. Theoretically the paper builds and adds to emerging body of literature regarding partial organization, as framed by Ahrne and Brunsson (2011). In order to understand the political form of action that WEF has developed for itself we employ the concept of partial organization, arguing that “membership” is the main organizational element through which they organize their environment. By way of making participants into various forms of members the WEF is able to create an organized environment around it self, which it can draw upon in its interest of setting global political agendas, in spite of a lacking nation state based mandate. The paper explains how funders and participants are made into members, and how a partial organization around the WEF is established and maintained. As a consequence, based on the relations between them and their many affiliated members the WEF achieves creating an order around them selves, transcending the actual full organization of the WEF. Participants at WEF activities, as well as WEF staff, would call this order a “network”. We acknowledge the network aspects of this order, but argue that it is foremost based on organization; it is a decided order, based on the decisions taken within the WEF. Empirically, the paper builds on interview data within Geneva staff and participants at WEF activities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2015
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventThe 31st EGOS Colloquium 2015: Organizations and the Examined Life: Reason, Reflexivity and Responsibility - Athen, Greece
    Duration: 2 Jul 20154 Jul 2015
    Conference number: 31


    ConferenceThe 31st EGOS Colloquium 2015
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