General Theme

The 38th EGOS Colloquium’s theme engages with the dynamic and complex nature of organizing by questioning idealized images of ‘perfection’ as being rooted in order, efficiency, symmetry, and predictability. Rarely, if ever, do our theories and methods, or the contexts and organizations we study, conform to such idealized images. Yet, imperfection need not implicate deficiency, weakness, or failure – but, instead, may implicate opportunity, unrealized potential, and even the exceptional. The 38th EGOS Colloquium 2022 – hosted and organized by the WU Vienna University of Economics and Business – takes this as a starting point to foster dialogue and debate around imperfections in organizations and organizing.

Pressing global challenges and the rapidly changing societal and technological landscape have necessitated, not only experimentation with novel forms and business models, but also collaborations that span geographic, political, disciplinary, and organizational borders. While such activities stimulate learning and innovation, they also require a tolerance for the unconventional, unpredictable, and possibly deviant. Some societal sectors, organizational forms, and individuals thrive on imperfections, while others struggle with them or purposefully seek to correct them.

Still others aspire to achieve some idealized image of perfection – which can be both a motivating force and a futile pursuit.

  • What does it mean to be ‘perfect’ or ‘imperfect’?

  • How do power and politics play into such definitions, and what are the implications for society, organizations, and individuals?

  • What is the boundary that distinguishes imperfections as ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’, and how are such boundaries drawn? How do management and organizational theories and methods account for, and provide space for, imperfection?

  • What can we learn from imperfections and how can we use them to enrich ongoing discussions about organizational and societal (grand) challenges?

Vienna, as the hosting city for the EGOS Colloquium 2022, epitomizes the beauty of imperfection. Austrian culture is well known for appreciating the imperfections that characterize daily life, and for making the impossible possible through compromise.

Imperfections are visible throughout the fabric of the city – be it buildings beaten by weather and worn by experience, the conspicuously missing number 5 line in the metro system, and the never fully realized second spire of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

The WU Vienna University of Economics and Business campus is a patchwork of diverse architectural styles, with each of the buildings designed by different architecture offices in Hamburg, London, Sendai, Barcelona, Madrid amd Vienna. This daring juxtaposition of colors, designs, and spaces comes together in an unusual harmony of aesthetic tension – giving life to an environment of active interchange and learning.

Exploring the beauty of imperfection provides opportunities to bring together an array of theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, levels of analysis, and diverse contexts. We invite proposals for sub-themes that challenge traditional understandings of what it means to be perfect or imperfect; that spark reflexivity in the ways we organize and how we engage with pressing societal and world-societal issues; and those that embolden experimentation and expand the frontiers of theory development and organizational research. Our interest is to encourage lively discussions that blend different disciplines, perspectives, and methodologies – sparking new debates and collaborations around organizing in a time of political turmoil and significant global challenges.

We look forward to exploring the beauty of imperfection with scholars from around the world at the 38th EGOS Colloquium in Vienna in 2022!