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Track 9.4 - Freedom in organisations: myths and realities

Nathalie RAULET-CROSET, Prof., Sorbonne Business School (IAE), University Paris 1
Patrick GILBERT, Prof, Sorbonne Business School (IAE), University Paris 1
Ann-Charlotte TEGLBORG, ESCP Europe
Matthieu BATTISTELLI, I3-CRG Ecole Polytechnique

Track's Contacts : 




Among key evolutions of organizations, one current tendency is to highlight the notion of "freedom" (Peters 1992). This is particularly the case in France where an increasing number of companies are aspiring to develop alternative workplaces based on the underlying principle of individual and collective freedom in particular under the notion of "Freedom-form" (Carney & Getz 2009 ; Getz, 2009), “Liberating management”, “Self managing organizations”, etc. These organizations are redesigned by flattening out hierarchies, subordinating their functional staff to operational staff and, insofar as possible, replacing formalization by mutual adjustment among employees (Gilbert, Teglborg & Raulet-Croset 2018).
This is in line with other inspirations claiming the increase of empowerment and the autonomy of teams. This joins also other organizational forms such as sociocracy (Romme and Endenburg, 2006) or holacracy (Robertson, 2015) or, even less directly, with servant leadership (Greenleaf, 1997). In such organizations, the workforce’s intelligence is mobilised through participation in the decision-making process and a collective involvement in seeking out new opportunities and developing innovations.

We wonder how this notion of freedom contributes to specifying these new forms of organizations, if it can be reinterpreted in the light of an international perspective, and also what is specifically innovative in this approach. We question what this notion of freedom covers, how it can generate organizational creativity. We also question how it reflects in various international contexts, and how it can be related to notions such as democracy, or participation.

The workshop will be an opportunity to work on the following themes:
- To what extent do these “liberated” organizations renew management practices? What managerial innovations are these practices fostering?
- What conceptions of freedom do they illustrate?
- In what way is the notion of "freedom" performative?
- How does the notion of freedom play a role in the social acceptability of this model, its construction, but also the related critiques?
- Do these organizations foster a radical change in employment relationships?
- Is liberty opposed to control, and does liberty renew alternative forms of control?
- What controversies are there about the "liberation" process? How are they resolved?

Several orientations of research can be imagined, and we welcome submissions coming from various disciplinary or methodological horizons. We would like to encourage submissions dealing with one or several topics related to freedom form organisations and more broadly freedom in organisations:
- Democratisation of innovation, free to innovate
- Liberating Management, Freedom form: reality or fashion?
- Commitment and disengagement during a liberating process
- Historical perspective of liberty in organisational life
- New forms of control and liberty
- Implications for Human resource management of organisational freedom
- Roles of trade unions
- Social influence and conformity during a liberating process
- Liberated leaders
- New roles for former middle managers in liberated companies
- Social and economic performance of liberated companies
- Change management and liberation