SWG 6 subtheme for EGOS 2024 in Milan. Submit a 3,000-word short paper by January 9, 2024.
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Convenors: Karen Ashcraft, Nicolas Bencherki, and Mie Plotnikof (alphabetically listed)

Understanding how human organizing also involves non-human agencies, often by exploring the role of technologies and other human-made artifacts, is critical to organization studies (Beyes, et al., 2022; Orlikowski 2000; Putnam, 2015). Scholars examine, for instance, the ways that the interplay between humans and technology changes in response to innovation needs, (dis)organizing work practices intentionally or not (Leonardi & Barley, 2010; Ratner & Plotnikof, 2022). Similar studies discuss how technology transforms workers–making them cyborgs (Haraway, 1985)–‘extending’ them by datafication, smart devices, or online networks, hence entangling work practices, subjectivities, bodies, and feelings with technology in ever-changing ways (Fleming, 2017; Newlands, 2021). Recently, however, the ‘eco-political’ turn (Haraway, 2016; Latour, 2017) also inspires organization scholars to question how nature and other living species participate in organizing the more-than-human world (Labatut et al., 2016; Nyberg et al., 2022). Such research unpacks, for example, the ways that human-nature and human-animal relations co-produce (more) responsible, sustainable, caring or otherwise alternative forms of organizing (e.g., activist, feminist, Global South, etc.) (Ergene et al., 2018; Houpalainen, 2020). Such efforts help to reimagine how different agencies (re)organize work life amidst perpetual crisis.

This sub-theme explores more-than-human-relations and the differences they make to organizing. It will extend above debates by redressing questions of how organizing with more-than-human relations perform and (re)configure work and workers in various–intentional and unintentional–ways responding to present and future challenges. This may well open debates about the ways in which emerging posthuman approaches to organizing can and should incorporate non-human agencies “anew”, maybe even “better”? The quotation marks signal these as contested terms, open for discussion as we engage with organizational practice and research with various agencies–technology, nature, artifacts, symbols etc. Such a stance challenges the habitual spotlight on human talk, action and intention, and refocuses on relational performativity of practices, interactions, entanglements and hybridities etc. It also asks us to remain curious about which agencies come to matter by their relation, demarcating what can be considered ‘new’ or ‘better’ (or the opposite), thus involving ethico-political concerns (Barad, 2007; de la Bellacasa, 2014; Harraway, 2016).

Advancing approaches to decenter the human in organizing has been vigorously debated by the communicative constitution of organization (CCO) scholars, amongst others (Schoeneborn et al., 2019). They argue that it is relationality that is performative of all sorts of (dis)organizing (Kuhn et al., 2017; Vasquéz & Kuhn, 2019). Emphasizing performative relations rather than singular entities relocates focus from who or what ‘has’ agency, to the ways that relational agencies come to matter through multimodal communication practices (Bencherki, 2016; Cooren, 2006). Such a perspective and other approaches to relational performativity, can help to renew how we study organizing with more-than-humans, shedding different light on the potential solutions and challenges such performative relationality pose in neoliberal society.

Recognizing that we live in times that normalize ongoing crisis (Berlant, 2011), and that bodies of all kinds are affected differently by this intensifying state of affairs (Puar, 2017), the sub-theme will be particularly attentive to the way in which post-humanist approaches can help us to productively reconsider matters of power, resistance, authority, identity, affect, population, and their (dis)ordering capacity (Vásquez  & Kuhn, 2019). To adequately address such matters, we consider it crucial to attend closely to the dynamics whereby difference is produced, unsettled, and dismantled—for instance, practices of racializing, gendering, Othering, queering (Ashcraft, 2019; Plotnikof et al., 2022; Raman, 2001). This may also involve demonstrating how more-than-human orientations stand to challenge residual dualisms and distinctions, such as mind vs. body, human vs. machine, culture vs. nature, discourse vs. materiality, emotion vs. affect, and so on.

In this vein, the sub-theme invites submissions that explore organizing with more-than-human-relations from a range of theories, methodologies and contexts. Below is a list of suggestive–not exhaustive–themes that can be addressed:

  • Which more-than-human relations, practices, identities, and affects emerge from posthuman approaches to organizing responsive to perpetual change and/or crisis?
  • What do the ‘more’-than-human add to our understanding? How do technologies, nature, multi-species, or other agencies co-create performativity in organizing?
  • Which downsides (problems, shortcomings, challenges etc.) of more-than-human performativity might be at play and how can they be addressed?
  • What becomes of, e.g., power, resistance, diversity, and inequality as posthumanism engenders emerging (new, better?) forms of work practices and subjectivities?
  • What are the ethical considerations of attending to non-human agencies in organizational practices and research of collective (working) lives?
  • What kinds of solidarity and care may emerge from posthuman approaches to more-than-human performativity in work organizing and subjectivity?
  • How can we decenter research from human action and communication, to explore more-than-human relational performativity at the intersections of, for example, discourse, materiality, and affect?
  • What more-than-human approaches (theorizing, methodology, and analysis) are available and how are we challenged to advance further? (e.g., by writing differently)
  • How can post-human performative approaches support or challenge organizations to engage in responsible ways, when they address various changing societal challenges?


Ashcraft, Karen Lee (2019). Feeling things, making waste. In Conzuelo Vásquez & Timothy Kuhn (Eds.), Dis/ organization as communication: Exploring the disordering, disruptive and chaotic properties of communication. New York: Routledge.

Barad, Karen. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Bencherki, Nicolas. (2016). How things make things do things with words, or how to pay attention to what things have to say. Communication Research and Practice, 2(3), 272–289.

Berlant, L. G. (2011). Cruel optimism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Beyes, T., Chun, W. H. K., Clarke, J., Flyverbom, M., & Holt, R. (2022). Ten theses on technology and organization: Introduction to the Special Issue. Organization Studies, 43(7), 1001-1018.

Cooren, François. (2006). The organizational world as a plenum of agencies. In François Cooren, James R Taylor, & Elizabeth J Van Every (Eds.), Communication as organizing: Practical approaches to research into the dynamic of text and conversation (pp. 81–100). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

de la Bellacasa, Maria Puig. (2011). Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social Studies of Science, 41(1), 85–106.

Ergene, S., Calás, M. B., and Smircich, L. (2018) Ecologies of sustainable concerns: Organization theorizing for the anthropocene. Gender, Work & Organization, 25: 222– 245. doi: 10.1111/gwao.12189.

Fleming, Peter. (2017). The human capital hoax: Work, debt and insecurity in the era of Uberization. Organization Studies, 38(5), 691–709.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne. (1985). A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, technology, and socialist feminism in the 1980s. Socialist Review, 80, 65–107.

Haraway, Donna Jeanne. (2016). Staying with the trouble: making kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.

Huopalainen, Astrid. (2022). Writing with the bitches. Organization, 29(6), 959–978.

Labatut, Julie, Munro, Iain., & Desmond, John. (2016). Animals and organizations. Organization, 23(3), 315–329.

Latour, Bruno. (2017). Facing Gaia: Eight lectures on the new climatic regime (C. Porter, Trans.). Polity.

Leonardi, P. M., & Barley, S. R. (2010). What’s Under Construction Here? Social Action, Materiality, and Power in Constructivist Studies of Technology and Organizing. The Academy of Management Annals, 4(1), 1–51.

Nyberg, Daniel, Wright, Christopher, & Bowden, Vanessa. (2022). Organising responses to climate change: The politics of mitigation, adaptation and suffering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Newlands, Gemma. (2021). Algorithmic surveillance in the gig economy: The organization of work through Lefebvrian conceived space. Organization Studies, 42(5), 719–737.

Orlikowski, Wanda. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: A practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4), 404–428.

Plotnikof, Mie, Muhr, Sara Louise, Holck, Lotte, & Just, Sine (2022). Repoliticizing Diversity Work? Exploring the performative potentials of norm-critical activism, Gender, Work & Organization, 29(2): 466-485.

Puar, Jasbir K. (2017). The right to maim: Debility, capacity, disability. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Putnam, L.L. (2015), The Discourse–Materiality Relationship. Journal of Management Studies, 52: 706-716.

Raman, Sujatha. (2001). Offshored Workers or New Intellectuals? Emerging from the Great Labour Divide in University Research. Organization, 8(2), 441–447.

Ratner, Helene, & Plotnikof, Mie. (2022). Technology and dis/organization: Digital data infrastructures as partial connections. Organization Studies, 43(7), 1049–1067.

Schoeneborn, D., Kuhn, T. R., & Kärreman, D. (2019). The communicative constitution of organization, organizing, and organizationality. Organization Studies40(4), 475-496.

Vásquez, Consuelo, & Kuhn, Timothy R. (Eds.). (2019). Dis/organization as communication: Exploring the disordering, disruptive and chaotic properties of communication. New York, NY: Routledge.


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