Sub-Plenary 1-6

Partial Organization: Perspectives, Promises and Pitfalls after a Decade of Research

When:  Thursday, July 7, 2022, 16:00–17:30 CEST
Where: LC.0.100 Festsaal 1 ---> WU interactive campus map

A decade ago, Nils Brunsson and Göran Ahrne proposed “partial organization” as a new perspective on organization. The authors argued that organization can be understood as a decided order and depending on the number of core elements (membership, rules, sanctions, monitoring, hierarchy) that are based on decisions, an organization can be said to be either more or less partial.
Thus, the key point of this perspective is to treat organization as a matter of degree – to speak in terms of the general theme of the 38th EGOS Colloquium 2022 –, organization is more or less imperfect. This new perspective allowed not only to study formal organizations in a new way, but more importantly it allowed to study social phenomena beyond formal organizations – thereby opening up the wider social world to organizational analysis.
With this sub-plenary, we aim to take stock of the research on partial organization since the perspective was first put forward about a decade ago – outlining its strengths and weaknesses and its implications for understanding social phenomena that typically fall outside the domain of organization scholarship. We will also evaluate exiting research against the original promises and discuss how the approach has been developed over the years and what can be expected of it in the future.


David Seidl

University of Zurich, Switzerland


Nils Brunsson

Uppsala University, Sweden


Frank den Hond

Hanken University, Finland


Dennis Schoeneborn

Copenhagen Business School, Denmark



Elke Schüßler

Professor & Head of Institute
Johannes-Keppler-Universität Linz, Austria