Towards a Theory of Organizationality: A Gradual View on Collective Actorhood

Dennis Schoeneborn, Leonhard Dobusch, David Nils Seidl

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The literature on the concept of organization is struggling with the dilemma of defining "organization" in a way that it is specific enough to distinguish it from other social phenomena but also open enough to capture novel forms of organization. To address this openness-specificity dilemma we draw on the emerging literature on organizationality, which treats organization as an attribute of social phenomena that can vary by degree. To advance this view, we propose to focus on collective actorhood as the main criterion of organizationality, distinguishing between higher or lower levels of organizationality according its degree of collective actorhood. Based on this focus, we develop a theoretical model that explains how different attribution practices "charge" a collective with actorhood. We identify three main types of attribution practices: identity-claiming, boundary-drawing, and decision-making. Overall, we add to organizational scholarship (1) by gradualizing the notion of collective actorhood (thus bridging narrow and wide views of organization), (2) by dynamizing the notion of collective actorhood (thus being able to explain processes towards higher or lower degrees of organizationality), and (3) by expanding the scope of organizational scholarship so that it can gain a stronger relevance for the social sciences more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Eighty-second Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management
EditorsSonja Taneja
Number of pages1
Place of PublicationBriarcliff Manor, NY
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesAcademy of Management Proceedings

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