Tracks and topics

Given the focus of this year’s WOA, key questions prompt us to ask: (how) is it possible to find a balance between efficiency and equity, between control and chaos, between the pursuit of organizational goals and meaningful individual action? What is the role of ‘mediating entities’ (e.g., communities, groups, the civil society) in this process? What is the role of ‘intermediary bodies’ (unions, professional associations, governmental or public bodies) in negotiating meaning and norms between organizations and a new individual(ism)? What is the role of organizational artefacts such as structures, routines, praxes, and tangible and intangible elements of organizational culture in the individual and collective sense-making and meaning-making processes?

We encourage organizational scholars participating to the 2021 WOA in Genoa to contribute with new empirical evidence and theoretical perspectives


In order to guide researchers in framing their potential contributions, in the following table we present some preliminary ideas concerning topics and tracks for the WOA conference. However, contributions on other topics which are broadly consistent with the general theme are also encouraged. Thus, the research community is strongly encouraged, but not limited to making contributions that relate to the following topics:


  • Looking for meaning in organizational design
  • Meta-organization design: designed around value or meaning?
  • Meaning and institutions
  • Grand societal challenges, social movements, and meaning in organizations
  • Governing meaning? Meaning management beyond meaning making
  • Organizational goals and meaning


  • Collaborative issues in smart-working
  • Motivation, engagement, and meaningful work
  • Construction of meaning and personal identity
  • Sense-making, meaning-making, and sense-giving
  • Giving sense to careers: subjective careers
  • Meaning, emotions and wellbeing
  • Digital transformation and meaning of work
  • Meaning, ethics, and moral values


  • Alone or together? Trust in technology as a meaning-making process
  • Automation and meaningful work
  • Organizational culture and meaning in organizations
  • Negotiating meaning: participation and democracy in organizational meaning-making
  • Finding and sharing meaning in different organizational contexts (e.g. family firms, SMEs, large organizations, MNCs, social organizations, hybrid organizations)


  • Determinism and anti-determinism in the age of digital technology
  • Philosophies of management, research approaches, and meaning in organizations
  • Techniques for revealing meaning in organizations: text analysis, topic modeling, clinical interviews, and the like
  • A quest for meaning: organization studies in dialogue with the arts and humanities, anthropology, history, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and religion studies