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Meta-organizing for grand challenges: the relevance of decidability of social orders in a meta-organizational space

Monday March 2, 2020, from 13:30 to 14:30
Room 24.120 (First floor). Mercè Rodoreda 24 building
Research seminar

Authors: Héloïse Berkowitz (CNRS, TSM Research) & Michael Grothe Hammer (Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg)

Meta-organizations i.e. organizations which members are themselves organizations, often play an important role in addressing a variety of grand societal challenges (Berkowitz, 2018). Meta-organizations such as the International Whaling Commission, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme, or the European Women’s Lobby, have been crucial in tackling such diverse challenges like the ozone hole, environmental pollution, species extinction, and gender inequality. These meta-organizations enable member-organizations to address grand challenges through self-regulation or capacity building and, hence, allow for collectively designing solutions to environmental or social problems (Berkowitz, Bucheli, & Dumez, 2017; Chaudhury et al., 2016; Karlberg & Jacobsson, 2015).

However, meta-organizations themselves create certain difficulties that arise from the attempt to organize organizations on a meta-level. Meta-organizations place an autonomous organizational system on top of existing organizational systems, thereby threatening the autonomy of the latter (Ahrne & Brunsson, 2008). As a consequence, meta-organizing collective action raises issues in terms of decision-making capabilities, accountability, and the maintenance and responsiveness of organizational boundaries.

Against this backdrop, we shall explore how these meta-organizational peculiarities enable and hinder the possibilities of tackling the grand challenge of climate change. In particular, we will investigate 1) the micro-foundations of setting up a meta-organizational decided order to tackle climate change, 2) the necessary mechanisms to maintain decidability and accountability in the meta-organizational space as well as 3) the potential drivers of undecidability, its impacts on the meta-organization and on its ability to tackle climate change.

▶️ Available in video here

Héloïse Berkowitz has a Phd in management science from i3-CRG, Ecole Polytechnique. She graduated from HEC Paris, la Sorbonne and CEMS and was a visiting scholar at Columbia School of International Public Affairs and Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. Her research deals with sustainable collective strategies and self-regulation devices in the energy sector. She is also interested in topics such as the performativity of strategy and social sciences, meta-organizations, sectoral governance, and specific interdisciplinary issues such as human rights and oceans’ management.