Research Center Organization Studies

Head

Ao.Univ.-Prof. Mag. Mag. Dr. Leonhard Dobusch (Institute of Organisation and Learning)

Deputy Head

ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Richard Weiskopf (Institute of Organisation and Learning)

Research Objectives

Organizations are constitutive for modern societies. In a broad range of the economical, cultural and political life they build focal points for the dynamics of development. They represent the pattern with which working relationships get designed, interests get pursued and social structures get conceived. Furthermore they deliver the foundation for the interexchange of knowledge between individuals and the creation of expertise. Hence on the one hand organizations intervene in the lifeworld-relations of humans and on the other hand influence the societal progress in a crucial manner. The finding that today’s societies are “organizational societies” (Perrow) proves the outstanding relevance of organizations for understanding and designing social correlations.

Organizations are more and more confronted with societal claims for transparency.  ‘Transparency’ is understood as a key for good governance (C. Hood). In this area of the research center the notion of transparency is addressed in the variety of its notions. Transparency is understood as a conceptualization of governmentality in order to unveil processes, individual and social capabilities – for organizational and managerial purposes. In this vein, transparency acts as a specific form of an enforcement of power within and by organizations. This process works with fields of visibility and fields of non-visibility. Predominantly, transparency is produced with quantifications.

In a second stance, transparency is understood as inherently emancipatory. It serves as a generator of spaces enabling a critical dialogue about power and decision-making in organizations as well as structures, which establish fields of (un-)visibilities. In this context organizations and organizing act in an area of conflict between a so called ‘top-down-transparency’ and a bottom-up-transparency. This considerations will be addressed inward- and outward-bound:

Inward-bound e.g. the subject of whistleblowing is in the focus of interest. It is understood as a contemporary manner of ‘parrhesia’ (truth-telling), which breaks with organizational practices of the ‘business as usual’ and opens up an ethico-political room for the reconfiguration of organizations.

Whilst the example of whistleblowing focuses on the possible opening of well-established organizational practices from the inside (inward-bound), we will address the opening of organizational practices from the outside. This can happen with stimuli, inquiries and requirements from external stakeholders. Especially the establishment and the development of social media and other digital tools provide possibilities to increase the transparency in and for organizations - adding options of governmentality, management and strategy.

Furthermore we investigate new forms of responsibility and accountability in the context of these developments. Whereas accountability concentrates in the dominant management and organizational discourse on quantifications imposed via a top-down-transparency, we will establish a responsibility reflecting a critical dialogue and answering to questions from various ‘others’.

In general, the research center “Organization Studies” aims for understanding, explaining and designing organizations as specific social systems, which are embedded in a complex, dynamic and interconnected context. The inclusion of the current state of research offers the basis for the various disciplines to investigate organizations from different, complementary perspectives.

Consequently various competence fields concerning certain types of organizations are addressed. Currently various research projects dealing with profit, public and semi-public service organizations in the areas of education, health-care as well as the fields of art and culture (e.g. schools, universities, hospitals, museums, theaters, festivals, biennials and other cultural organizations) are conducted within the research center.

 Interview with former head Martin Piber (Video)

Affiliated Organisational Units

Homepage of the Research Center

http://www.uibk.ac.at/organisationsforschung/