View Thread

EGOS 2021 Sub-Theme 12: Institutions, Innovation, Impact: The Role of Inter-Institutional Collaboration in Social Change

  • 1.  EGOS 2021 Sub-Theme 12: Institutions, Innovation, Impact: The Role of Inter-Institutional Collaboration in Social Change

    Posted 12-07-2020 04:21

    Dear colleagues,

    If you are doing research at the intersection of institutional theory, innovation, and social impact, please consider submitting your work to EGOS sub-theme 12 (see details below). We will focus on how inter-institutional collaboration can address social change, and we anticipate lively discussions bridging diverse disciplines, theoretical perspectives, and methodological approaches.

    Best regards,

    Markus, Marya, & Guillermo

    EGOS 2021 Sub-theme 12

    Institutions, Innovation, Impact: The Role of Inter-Institutional Collaboration in Social Change

    Submission deadline: January 12, 2021



    Markus A. Höllerer, UNSW Sydney, Australia & WU Vienna, Austria

    Marya Besharov, University of Oxford, United Kingdom

    Guillermo Casasnovas, ESADE, Spain


    Call for papers

    To address complex and deep-rooted global challenges, such as poverty, social inequality, limited public health, and environmental destruction (e.g., George et al., 2016), novel forms of organizing have emerged that cut across traditional sectoral and institutional boundaries (e.g., Selsky & Parker, 2005). Examples include social-business hybrids such as social enterprises and B-Corps (e.g., Gehman & Grimes, 2017; Smith & Besharov, 2019), network- and community-based organizations (e.g., Davis, 2013; O'Mahony & Bechky, 2008), crowd funding and open government initiatives (e.g., Soubliere & Gehman, 2019; Kornberger et al., 2017), social impact bonds and other vehicles that sit at the intersection of financial, public, and social sectors (e.g., Casasnovas & Ventresca, 2016; McHugh et al., 2013), and various forms of organizing based on the sharing economy (e.g., Vith et al., 2019; Kornberger et al., 2018). A key defining characteristic of these novel organizing efforts lies in their focus on collaboration and partnership: in order to mirror and/or alleviate the complexity of the problems they seek to ameliorate they include a multiplicity of actors, sectors, and institutional domains (and, consequently, their underlying logics). Moreover, they often do so not just within but also across organizational boundaries (Mitzinneck & Besharov, 2019; Santos, 2012; Montgomery et al., 2012).

    While an emerging body of research explores the organizational dynamics of these novel forms (see Battilana et al., 2017; Battilana & Lee, 2014), it is equally critical to understand the more macro issues of how and why such organizational arrangements emerge in response to complex and intermeshed social challenges, how they interact with existing institutional infrastructure and environments (including institutional dynamics that result from such interaction), and how and why they either become established and taken-for-granted, or disappear again. Public administration scholars have explored dynamics of bilateral relations in public-private partnerships (e.g., Osborne, 2002); others (e.g., Selsky & Parker, 2005) have even explored tri-partite partnerships. Yet, emerging organizational arrangements that seek to address the complex and deep-rooted social problems of today are often more complex in that they create novel relational spaces that intentionally entangle and interlink the rationales of the institutional domains involved – and they do so in a more formalized way. As previous literature has shown, such inter-institutional collaboration comes with significant risk of conflict, contestation, and power struggles due to divergent underlying rationales and guiding logics (e.g., Logue et al., 2020). Navigating the resulting inter- and intra-institutional plurality and complexity (Meyer & Höllerer, 2016) may require elaborate governance mechanisms as a way to steer, control, and orchestrate collective activity (e.g., Mair et al., 2015; Ebrahim et al., 2014).

    Applying a macro-level perspective to the way in which institutions support (or thwart) the opportunities for social impact, this sub-theme explicitly draws attention to issues of translation, plurality, complexity, and hybridity in collaborative organizing efforts that cut across institutional domains. We consequently call for conceptual and empirical papers that explore and expand on questions related to the emergence and sustainability of diverse and novel organizational forms that span and bridge a variety of sectors, fields, and ideologies/interests; the associated challenges of inter- and intra-institutional plurality and complexity; the ways in which non-standard and partial forms of organizing offer novel responses to such complexity; and the potential for collaborative governance mechanisms to foster flexible yet resilient collectives that are equipped to deal with complex and dynamic economic, ecological, and social challenges.

    In particular, we invite theoretical and empirical papers using a variety of methodological and conceptual approaches, focusing on (but by no means limited to) the following issues:

    • What types of economic, ecological, and social challenges are collaborative inter-institutional initiatives best suited to address? Are there particular domains or problem areas where inter-institutional initiatives are more or less prevalent (and effective)?
    • What factors explain the emergence of inter-institutional collaborations locally and globally? What kind of institutional infrastructure is needed to support and/or foster these?
    • What organizational and legal forms do inter-institutional collaborations take (e.g., public-private partnerships, social enterprises, multi-stakeholder cooperatives, impact investment vehicles, civic crowdfunding initiatives, sharing economy firms, etc.)? How do these forms differ? What opportunities and challenges come with each of them?
    • How do inter-institutional collaborations evolve over time? What factors contribute to their long-term sustainability or failure? What are typical problems inter-institutional collaborations struggle with?
    • What role does governance play in inter-institutional collaboration? What kinds of governance mechanisms are adopted, how do they operate, and with what consequences? What about 'collaborative governance'?
    • How do inter-institutional collaborations measure the (social) impact of their work? How do they avoid mission drift?
    • What technologies (broadly understood) enable or constrain inter-institutional collaborations in the context of social change? What can be learned from this?
    • How are inter-institutional collaborations translated from one geographic context to another? What challenges emerge in the diffusion and translation process – and how can these be managed?
    • What type of incentive mechanisms are put in place, explicitly or implicitly, in inter-institutional collaborations? Who sets the rules of the game? And, relatedly, what about institutional infrastructure and social controls?

    For full details see:


    Marya Besharov
    Professor of Organisations and Impact
    Saïd Business School
    University of Oxford