Conference theme

How to organize for a sustainable future?

Organizations and how they are organized are inextricably linked to the great challenges of our time, both as the source of problems and as their solutions (Margolis & Walsh, 2003; Stephan et al., 2012; Callon et al. 2009; Latour, 2018). In light of these challenges, the NEON conference 2021 focuses on organizing for a better future in a broad sense. The attention on the social and environmental responsibility of organizations has increased in recent decades. Grassroots movements and research communities have successfully called attention to its importance, and it is now high on the political agenda. In strategy and organizational studies, the literature on corporate social responsibility (CRS) has made a major impact from the turn of the millennium (Aguinis &Glavas, 2012; Crane et al., 2018; Hahn et al., 2017). However, today, it seems that the concept of sustainability has been eclipsing CSR. Nevertheless, the fundamental debate about what can be achieved through voluntary adaptation instead of political governance and regulation has remained (see, for example, Garriga &Melé, 2004).

Jennifer Howard-Grenville points to the interdisciplinarity and pluralism of organizational research as an advantage (Howard-Greneville, in press). Likewise, the NEON conference – having for many years served as a meeting place across disciplines and between researchers and practitioners – is an excellent arena for professional discussions about what constitutes positive visions for the future and how to organize present and future organizations with an eye to a better future. In order to develop NEON’s potential of filling such a role further, we invite you to submit proposals for track sessions and we encourage all participants to embrace even broader interdisciplinary issues for this year’s conference. We are also open to a greater variety of formats for the session and we welcome everything from traditional paper sessions to other formats conducive for sharing and developing new knowledge.

We therefore invite you to submit tracks focusing on what the good society would look like and what role organizations have in our collective efforts towards a better society. This may include, but not restricted to, tracks that problematize current discourses about what better societies and organizations are and how to realize them (see e.g., Banerjee, 2008; Scherer &Palazzo, 2007). In addition, we invite you to explore how work on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable business is facilitated or hindered by organizations and their members. Examples could be the increasingly popular topic of “circular economy”. Another example of a thematic area would be the Nordic Worklife model and the organization's contribution to developing, defending or weakening this model.


Aguinis, H., & Glavas, A. (2012). What We Know and Don’t Know About Corporate Social Responsibility: A Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Management, 38(4), 932–968.

Banerjee, S. B. (2008). Corporate Social Responsibility: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Critical Sociology, 34(1), 51–79.

Callon, M., Lascoumes, P., & Barthe, Y. (2009). Acting in an Uncertain World: An Essay on Technical Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Crane, A., Henriques, I., & Husted, B. W. (2018). Quants and poets: Advancing methods and methodologies in business and society research. Business and Society, 57(1), 3–25.

Garriga, E., & Melé, D. (2004). Corporate Social Responsibility Theories: Mapping the Territory. Journal of Business Ethics, 53(1/2), 51–71.

Hahn, T., Figge, F., Aragón-Correa, J. A., & Sharma, S. (2017). Advancing Research on Corporate Sustainability: Off to Pastures New or Back to the Roots? Business & Society, 56(2), 155–185.

Howard -Grenville, J. (in press). Caring, courage and curiosity: Reflections on our roles as scholars in organizing for a sustainable future. Organization Theory.

Latour, B. (2017) Facing Gaia. Eight lectures on the new climatic regime. Cambrige: Polity press. (Translated by Catherine Porter, First published in French as Face à Gaia. Huit conferences sur le nouveau règime climatique. Editions La Dècouverte, Paris, 2015)

Margolis, J. D., & Walsh, J. P. (2003). Misery Loves Companies: Rethinking Social Initiatives by Business. Administrative Science Quarterly, 48(2), 268–305.

Scherer, A. G., & Palazzo, G. (2007). Toward a Political Conception of Corporate Responsibility: Business and Society Seen from a Habermasian Perspective. The Academy of Management Review, 32(4), 1096–1120.

Stephan, U., Patterson, M., Kelly, C., & Mair, J. (2016). Organizations Driving Positive Social Change: A Review and an Integrative Framework of Change Processes. Journal of Management, 42(5), 1250–1281.