WOA 2024 XXV Workshop in collaboration with EGOS Colloquium



The purpose of the WoA 2024 and 40th  EGOS Colloquium 2024 – hosted by the University of Milan-Bicocca – is to investigate what elements represent the crucial crossroads for organizations of the present and the next future. The concept of “Crossroad” can refer to a place where one road crosses another, an intersection that has the potential to connect people traveling from different sites and moving in different directions. It can be seen both as a central meeting space and as a location “between worlds”, vibrant of vital energy, where people can melt together or assimilate into a harmonious whole with a common culture. At the same time, a crossroad symbolizes a crucial point in time when a decision becomes inevitable: going on the same way, along a straight path, is no longer suitable, and the traveller has to look for new directions to not remain stuck. In this sense, crossroads may also be emblematic of a time of uncertainty, for people not being able to clearly see where to turn to face new incoming issues. Contemporary organizations are at the crossroads in both these connotations: in time, because the potentially pervasive transformations led by digital innovation, massive data, and artificial intelligence call for new strategies of action to be fully and sustainably exploited; in space, since they are dealing with the governance of major humanity challenges (e.g., climate change, migrations, pandemics) in an increasingly interconnected world, and this requires new forms of coordination to achieve effective cooperation, oftentimes at the global level and including heterogeneous institutions (e.g., governments, large corporations, associations, and so forth).

These organizational transformations might be driven by commercial and political interests favouring practices that increase social inequality and make more people experience precariousness and exclusion, not feeling able to depict a future for themselves and their families. As a reaction, populism, protectionism, nationalism, and autarchy might raise in the political debate and undermine trust in social institutions. It is then urgent that organizational scholars take their stand critically redirecting the ongoing discussion towards a serious consideration of the social and societal responsibilities of organizations and searching for alternative solutions that might better encounter the expectation of people – who are at the same time workforce, customers, clients, and citizens – for a positive impact on their lives.
In this perspective, it can be very generative to think of organizations as being at crossroads that break the myth of roads’ continuity embedded in linear decision-making processes and organizational routines:

  • What are the crossroads between organizational policies, public discourses, and everyday practices for intercultural integration? How to put intercultural dialogue and integration into practice within organizations?
  • How multicultural social networks can promote ideas flow, creativity, and societal innovation?
  • How should we change our decision making when uncertainty increases? What is the new normal of managing in extreme uncertainty when nothing is normal anymore?
  • What is the importance of forecasting in times of extreme uncertainty?
  • Which new forms of coordination are emerging to achieve effective cooperation at global level and/or including heterogeneous institutions (for example, governments, large corporations, associations, and so forth)?
  • How are the relationship among people and among people and organizations taking shape in the “infosphere” (see above: Floridi, 2014), since they become seamlessly connected to each other and surrounded by smart, responsive objects?
  • How can organizations be redesigned to enable and empower people “digital happiness” in their “onlife” world?
  • How can people in organizations be perceived not only as actors who change the world through technology, but also subjects who are transformed by technology itself?
  • How can organizations enhance people’s willingness to experiment with new forms of structuring and routines and generate their own evolution?
  • How can crossroads be managed as flux spaces where actors from different industrial sectors, public institutions, associations, and communities can get together allowing the shaping of new evolving ecosystems?
  • How can organization studies carry out an effort to reveal basic principles of the complex adaptive systems embedded at the crossroads between different kinds of organizations?

How to integrate approaches from different disciplines and mix methods from network dynamics and sociology, as well as geography and urban studies to better address the challenge of designing organizations that foster a sustainable evolution for our society?