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  • 1.
    Ahrne, Göran
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Flawed Globalization: impediments of global trade union and party politics: The case of the labour movement2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Globalization seems to affect all social phenomena and is now a well-established discourse within the social sciences. Globalization, however, is far from a unitary process. Probably it makes more sense to talk about globalizations. Globalization happens in a number of ways and different social spheres and different types of organizations have varying possibilities to become global actors. In this paper we discuss and explain why political parties and trade unions have difficulties in going global and acting outside the framework of the nationstate. By answering this question we want to contribute to the body of literature that tries to understand the requirements of contemporary politics. We do this by looking at attempts by political parties and trade unions to become global actors, which have not gone very well. To understand how society changes with the increasing number of non-territorial processes and actors that we can observe, it is necessary to investigate not only successful examples but also those that have problems to expand their activities with transnational contacts and to act on a global platform.  

    Our point of departure is that if we want to understand and explain the difficulties political parties and trade unions have in deterritorializing their activities it is necessary to look at the historical and contemporary organizational forms of their attempts to globalize.

    In the paper we identify five organizational characteristics that impede the possibilities for non-national unions and parties to act: embeddedness, leadership, ierarchy, agenda, interest and solutions. In other organizations, such Amensty International and Green Peace, this characteristics work better, enabling these organizations to be stronger non-national political actors. 

  • 2.
    Ahrne, Göran
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Flawed Globalization: Why Traditional Political Organizations Have Problems Forming Transnational Meta- Organizations2020Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Departing from an organizational perspective and using the cases of Socialist International and four European trade unions, this paper illustrates why political parties and trade unions have difficulty acting globally. The analysis shows that international or transnational organizations for national parties or trade unions are established as meta-organizations, and herein lies the key to explaining their problems in becoming global actors. The national embeddedness of their members results in broad agendas and quests for national solutions, which divides and weakens leadership. Comparing these meta-organizations to a more successful global political organization, Amnesty International, reveals that its organization is quite the opposite: a centralized leadership, a narrow agenda, not working for the immediate interests of its members or finding solutions to the issues it raises. The paper concludes that if this form of organization is necessary in global politics then there is little room for political parties and unions on a global arena.

    Download full text (pdf)
    fulltext
  • 3.
    Ahrne, Göran
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Meta-organizations and the troublesome globalization of politics2011Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 4. Finnveden, Goran
    et al.
    Bjorklund, Anna
    Reich, Marcus Carlsson
    Eriksson, Ola
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Flexible and robust strategies for waste management in Sweden2007In: Waste Management, ISSN 0956-053X, E-ISSN 1879-2456, Vol. 27, no 8, p. s1-S8Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Treatment of solid waste continues to be on the political agenda. Waste disposal issues are often viewed from an environmental perspective, but economic and social aspects also need to be considered when deciding on waste strategies and policy instruments. The aim of this paper is to suggest flexible and robust strategies for waste management in Sweden, and to discuss different policy instruments. Emphasis is on environmental aspects, but social and economic aspects are also considered. The results show that most waste treatment methods have a role to play in a robust and flexible integrated waste management system, and that the waste hierarchy is valid as a rule of thumb from an environmental perspective. A review of social aspects shows that there is a general willingness among people to source separate wastes. A package of policy instruments can include landfill tax, an incineration tax which is differentiated with respect to the content of fossil fuels and a weight based incineration tax, as well as support to the use of biogas and recycled materials.

  • 5.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    An organized network: World Economic Forum and the partial organizing of global agendas2019In: Organization outside organizations: The abundance of partial organization in social life / [ed] Göran Ahrne, Nils Brunsson, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019, p. 212-234Chapter in book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter answers the question of how the World Economic Fourm (WEF) constructs authority for itself in the global arena by studying the form of political action that the WEF draws upon. We argue that it constructs authority beyond itself through turning some participants from its many events into a form of members, thus partially organizing its environment. Participants at WEF activities, as well as WEF staff, would call this order a ‘network’. We acknowledge the network aspects of this order, but argue that it is foremost based on organization; it is a decided order, based on decisions taken within the WEF. Empirically, the chapter builds on interview data within Geneva staff and participants at WEF activities.

  • 6.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Consequences of a Liquid Mandate: World Economic Forum and the Partial Organizing of Global Agendas2015Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper describes and answers the question how the WEF creates a strong position for itself in the global arena, without a formal and institutional mandate. Theoretically the paper builds and adds to emerging body of literature regarding partial organization, as framed by Ahrne and Brunsson (2011). In order to understand the political form of action that WEF has developed for itself we employ the concept of partial organization, arguing that “membership” is the main organizational element through which they organize their environment. By way of making participants into various forms of members the WEF is able to create an organized environment around it self, which it can draw upon in its interest of setting global political agendas, in spite of a lacking nation state based mandate. The paper explains how funders and participants are made into members, and how a partial organization around the WEF is established and maintained. As a consequence, based on the relations between them and their many affiliated members the WEF achieves creating an order around them selves, transcending the actual full organization of the WEF. Participants at WEF activities, as well as WEF staff, would call this order a “network”. We acknowledge the network aspects of this order, but argue that it is foremost based on organization; it is a decided order, based on the decisions taken within the WEF. Empirically, the paper builds on interview data within Geneva staff and participants at WEF activities.

    Download full text (pdf)
    fulltext
  • 7.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Discreet power: how the World Economic Forum shapes market agendas2018Book (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    In Discreet Power, Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sörbom undertake an ethnographic study of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Accessing one of the primary agenda-setting organizations of our day, they draw on interviews and participant observation to examine how the WEF wields its influence. They situate the WEF within an emerging system of "discretionary governance," in which actors craft ideas and entice formal authorities and top leaders in order to garner significant sway. Yet in spite of its image as a powerful, exclusive brain trust, the WEF has no formal mandate to implement its positions. It must convince others to advance chosen causes and enact suggestions, rendering its position quite fragile.

    Garsten and Sörbom argue that the WEF must be viewed relationally as a brokering organization that lives between the market and political spheres and that extends its reach through associated individuals and groups. They place the WEF in the context of a broader shift, arguing that while this type of governance opens up novel ways of dealing with urgent global problems, it challenges core democratic values.

  • 8.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Sweden.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Södertörn University, Sweden.
    Discretionary Governance: Selection, Secrecy, and Status within the World Economic Forum2021In: Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, ISSN 1075-2846, E-ISSN 1942-6720, Vol. 27, no 4, p. 540-560Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Built on the exclusive funding of 1,000 large transnational corporations, the World Economic Forum is a not-for-profit Swiss foundation, aiming to shape the direction of globalization. Its events are characterized by low degrees of formality and transparency. Research on what this organization does is scarce. This article suggests the term discretionary governance to capture the precarious, yet existing, social order that the organization shapes. By discretionary governance, we mean a set of discreet practices based on the organization’s judgement in ways that escape established democratic controls. Drawing on ethnographic data the paper demonstrates how selection, secrecy, and status form key components of this tenuous ordering. Selection processes and secrecy contribute to status elevation of the individuals and organizations chosen to participate. Upon them and the organization itself is bestowed a symbolic capital that is practical and possibly profitable in the world of global governance.

  • 9.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Sweden.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Södertörn University, Sweden.
    His Master’s Voice? Conceptualizing the relationship between business and the World Economic Forum2019In: Journal of Business Anthropology, E-ISSN 2245-4217, Vol. 8, no 1, p. 41-62Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Commonly, the relationship between corporations and non-for profit organizations, such as foundations, think tanks and private research institutes, is analyzed in terms suggesting that when acting as funders corporations set the frames for the non-for profit organization who, in turn, not only mimics but also serves as to broadcast the views of its funder. Drawing on the case of the Swizz based foundation/think tank World Economic Forum and its corporate funders we scrutinize this relationship. We show that as an organization interested in global policy making it is of vital importance for the Forum to construct its own agency, not merely giving voice to its funder’s views, and that it will do so drawing on the resources that the funders provide. Moreover, we submit that as organizations all partaking actors will endeavor to construct their own agency, oftentimes by drawing on the resources of others. In so doing, actors may have both overlapping and divergent interests. Evoking the Lévi-Strauss concept of the bricoleur, we analyze how the various and multifaceted priorities of corporations will not only be filtered by the Form, but it will also make use of the resources at hand for organizing forth own policy messages. The result is a complex and dynamic web of actors and voices.

  • 10.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Högt spel i gränslandet mellan politik och marknad2014In: Alla dessa marknader: RJ:s årsbok 2014/2015 / [ed] Jenny Björkman, Björn Fjæstad & Susanna Alexius, Göteborg: Makadam Förlag, 2014, p. 173-184Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 11.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Magical Formulae for Market Futures: Tales from the World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos2015Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 12.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Magical formulae for market futures: Tales from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos2016In: Anthropology Today, ISSN 0268-540X, E-ISSN 1467-8322, Vol. 32, no 6, p. 18-21Article in journal (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Markets are often portrayed as being organized by way of rationalized knowledge, objective reasoning, and the fluctuations of demand and supply. In parallel, and often mixed with this modality of knowledge, magical beliefs and practices are prevalent. Business leaders, management consultants, and financial advisors are often savvy in the art of creatively blending the ‘objective facts’ of markets with magical formulae, rites, and imaginaries of the future. This article looks at the World Economic Forum's yearly Davos meeting as a large-scale ritual that engages senior executives of global corporations, top-level politicians, and civil society leaders to contribute to the overall aim of ‘improving the world’. The Davos gathering has become a vital part of the business calendar, just as much for the intensity of its networking as for the declarations of action from the speakers’ podiums. The presentations and performances in Davos work as ‘technologies of enchantment’ in Gell's (1992) sense, instilling a sense of agency onto participants. The ritual also contributes towards securing the acquiescence of individuals and organizations in a transnational network of politico-economic intentionalities. By invoking global and regional challenges and risks, discussing possible scenarios and solutions, presenters invoke a sense of urgency and contribute to the articulation of global ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’. It is proposed that the magic of Davos resides to a large extent in the ritualized form of interaction and the technologies of enchantment through which it is set up.

  • 13.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, AdrienneStockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Power, Policy and Profit: Corporate Engagement in Politics and Governance2017Collection (editor) (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Power, Policy and Profit: Corporate Engagement in Politics and Governance investigates the manifold ways in which corporate actors attempt to influence political activities in the broad sense. Historically, the scope of corporate influence in politics as well as the ways in which corporations have attempted to influence political structures have varied greatly. With intensified globalization of markets, the restructuring of provisions of welfare services, and the accumulation of private capital, opportunities for corporate influence in politics affairs have multiplied. Influencing policy is for instance undertaking by the funding of analyses and research, by creating or adopting standards for social responsibility, and by shaping transparency guidelines. Power, Policy and Profit: Corporate Engagement in Politics and Governance brings together scholars from different fields in the study of global governance, to address the rising influence and power of corporate actors on the political scene, at national and transnational levels.

  • 14.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Secret Societies, Opaque Routes: Advancing Corporate Politics through the World Economic Forum2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    LAEMOS 2014

    Subtheme 8

    The Corporatization of Politics and the Politicization of Corporations

     

     

    The Politicization of Corporations: The Case of the World Economic Forum

    Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sörbom

     

     

    Abstract

     

    This paper departs from an interest in the involvement of business leaders in the sphere of politics, in the broad sense. At a general level, we are seeing a proliferation of usages of non-market corporate strategies, such as testimony, lobbying, interlocking of positions and other means to influence policymakers at all levels of government and international institutions as an adjunct to the firm’s market strategies. This paper brings to the fore the role of corporations in the World Economic Forum (WEF), and how firms act through the WEF to advance their interests, financial as well as political. What is the role of business in the WEF, and how do business corporations advance their interests through the WEF?

     

    Inspired by Stephen Barley's (2010) work on how corporations have systematically built an institutional field to exert greater influence on the US Federal government, we aim to enhance knowledge on how the WEF and the 1,000 corporations that are active within it influence the larger socio-cultural context in which they are embedded. Empirically we depart from ethnographic field studies of the World Economic Forum, drawing on observations from WEF-events and interviews with participants and organizers. Theoretically we will employ an organizational perspective, using the concept of "partial organization" as introduced by Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson (2011).

     

    The results show that corporations find a strategically positioned amplifier for their non-market interests in the WEF. The WEF functions to enhance and gain leverage for their ideas and priorities in a highly selective and resourceful environment. In the long run, both the market priorities and the political interests of business may be served by engagement in the WEF.

     

    However, the WEF cannot only be conceived as the extended voice of corporations. The WEF also makes strategic use of the corporations to organize and expand their own agency, which not necessarily coincides with the interests of multinational corporations.  By way of corporate financial resources, the tapping of knowledge and expertise, and access to vast networks of business relations, the WEF is also able to amplify its own voice. The organized network, in the format of partial organization, which is the preferred form of organization of the WEF, comes with weakened power in the form of oversight and sanctions for the member corporations, but may allow for a concentration of resources at the center. The periphery has little sanctioned insight into the core of the organization, and a weak voice in influencing the operations of the organization. Actors in the partially organized environment thus have to rely on the goodwill of the leadership. 

  • 15.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Small places, big stakes : "Meetings" as moments of ethnographic momentum2014Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Ethnographic fieldwork in organizations – such as corporations, state agencies, and international organizations – often entails that the ethnographer has to rely to a large extent on meetings as the primary point of access. Oftentimes, this involves doing fieldwork in workshops, at ceremonies, and at other staged, formal events. In addition, such fieldwork tends to be both multilocal, mobile, and discontinuous. It may not provide as much of a flavour of the different local sites and a sense of ‘being there' as one would wish for. The tendency in anthropology to favour the informal, the ‘genuine' or ‘authentic' as well as the spontaneous, may leave one with a lingering feeling of having to make do with second-rate material, i.e. the formal, the superficial, and the organized. To a large extent, the staged character of the social events that are accessible to the ethnographer suggests that s/he has been left of much of ‘what is really going on', and ‘what people are really up to.' Meetings, however, as organized and ritualized social events, may provide the ethnographer with a loupe through which key tenets of larger social groups and organizations, and big issues, may be carefully observed. In formal meetings, political priorities, economic values, and social priorities are often condensed, played out and negotiated, turning meetings into strategic sites from which to observe the organization at large. The paper is based on experiences from fieldwork in corporations, think thanks, and international organizations.

  • 16.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Södertörn University College, Sweden.
    Small places, big stakes: "Meetings’" as moments of ethnographic momentum2015Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The Davos summit is surrounded by air of seriousness and hype, but it is also something like a huge cocktail party. The Davos meeting is, in essence, a kind of human beehive, attracting and organizing a multitude of actors around its core, each contributing to the existence of the beehive community, and each disseminating its ideas and perspectives to the world at large. The WEF is essentially a social world of meetings – staged, circumvented, formal, organized meetings – and meetings to which access is tightly restricted. The annual Davos meeting, which is the showcase meeting of the WEF, is also a microcosm of the organization, set up in a small place and speaking to bigger issues: market regulations, financial crises, environmental risks, armed conflicts, and the like. The kinds of questions that arise out offieldwork in organizations such as this, but also more broadly, are to do with access, representation, validity, and the predicaments of doing ethnography in organized settings.

    At a more general level, ethnographic fieldwork in organizations – such as corporations, state agencies, and international organizations – often entails that the ethnographer has to rely on meetings as the primary point of access. Oftentimes, this involves doing fieldwork in workshops, at ceremonies, and at other staged, formal events. In addition, such fieldwork tends to be multilocal, mobile, and discontinuous. It may not provide as much of a flavour of the different local sites and a sense of ‘being there’ as one would wish for. The tendency in anthropology to favour the informal, the ‘genuine’ or ‘authentic’ as well as the spontaneous, may leave one with a lingering feeling of having to make do with second- rate material, i.e. the formal, the superficial, and the organized. Fieldwork in meetings, and in meetings to which one may not get full access, may, from that angle, be problematic.

    What, if anything, can we learn from doing ethnography in such a small, temporary meeting place, where we don not even have access to much of what goes on?

     

  • 17.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Södertörn University College, Sweden.
    Small places, big stakes: "Meetings" as moments of ethnographic momentum2016Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The World Economic Forum is essentially a world of meetings: staged, circumvented, formal, organized meetings to which access is tightly restricted. The annual Davos meeting, the WEF show case meeting, is also a microcosm of the organization, set up in a small place but speaking to bigger issues. Ethnographic fieldwork in organizations such as the WEF – and more broadly incorporations, state agencies, and international organizations – often involves doing fieldwork in workshops, at ceremonies, and at other staged, formal events. In addition, such fieldwork tends to be multilocal, mobile, and discontinuous. What, if anything, can we learn from doing ethnography in such small, temporary meeting places, where we may not even have full access?

    The paper shows that researching an organization such as the WEF is as methodologically and theoretical challenging as it is rewarding. It is argued that to understand the practices constituting meetings we need to broaden the perspective of the meeting as a phenomenon. The meeting as research locus should not be seen as a given entity, but as a contingent and continually constructed social arena. In the WEF case the meeting is both a continuous organizing effort, and a social arena, temporarily bounded in time and space.

  • 18.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Small Places, Big Stakes: Meetings as Moments of Ethnographic Momentum2017In: Meeting Ethnography: Meetings as Key Technologies of Contemporary Governance, Development, and Resistance / [ed] Jen Sandler, Renita Thedvall, New York: Routledge, 2017, p. 126-142Chapter in book (Refereed)
  • 19.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    The Politicization of Corporations: The Case of the World Economic Forum2014Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

     

     

    The Politicization of Corporations: The Case of the World Economic Forum

    Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sörbom

     

     

    Abstract

     

    This paper departs from an interest in the involvement of business leaders in the sphere of politics, in the broad sense. At a general level, we are seeing a proliferation of usages of non-market corporate strategies, such as testimony, lobbying, interlocking of positions and other means to influence policymakers at all levels of government and international institutions as an adjunct to the firm’s market strategies. This paper brings to the fore the role of corporations in the World Economic Forum (WEF), and how firms act through the WEF to advance their interests, financial as well as political. What is the role of business in the WEF, and how do business corporations advance their interests through the WEF? Empirically we depart from ethnographic field studies of the World Economic Forum, drawing on observations from WEF-events and interviews with participants and organizers. We propose that corporations find a strategically positioned amplifier for their non-market interests in the WEF. The WEF functions to enhance and gain leverage for their ideas and priorities in a highly selective and resourceful environment. In the long run, both the market priorities and the political interests of business may be served by engagement in the WEF. By way of corporate financial resources, the tapping of knowledge and expertise, and access to vast networks of business relations, the WEF is also able to amplify its own voice and agency in the field of global governance.

     

     

  • 20.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Think tanks as policy brokers in partially organized fields: The case of World Economic Forum2014Report (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    As has been noted in research on think tanks it is difficult to describe what a think tank is, and to pinpoint what it is in think tank activities that generates powerful relationships towards other actors. This is even more the case when talking of transnational think tanks. In this report we give a theoretical account of how relationships organized by transnational think tanks may be analyzed.

    In the report we are drawing on empirical findings from the World Economic Forum (WEF), seen as a transnational think tank addressing a non-national audience. We are suggesting that think-tank experts are engaged in the brokerage of ideas and knowledge, implying anintermediary activity, wherein ideas are translated, shaped and formatted. Operating at the interfaces of various actors, think-tank experts formulate and negotiate ideas with and among actors, encouraging them to adopt and use those ideas.

    The main argument in the report is that this brokerage can be seen to generate ‘partially organized fields’. The think tank organizes other actors not by constructing a complete organization, but by establishing and maintaining a decided network, drawing upon such organizational elements as membership, monitoring and sanctions. This allows think tanks to maintain a degree of flexibility, whilst gaining control of valuable resources.

    In the case of the WEF the report show that the combination of a small core of completeorganization with a larger environment of only partial organizing essentially allows the WEF to be bigger than they actually are. The decided networks, i.e. the partnerships, the working groups, and the communities, significantly extends the reach of the WEF, allowing it to reach across organizational boundaries.

    We suggest that this form of organizing is the prime way for transnational think tanks toorganize outside themselves, thereby exerting political influence. The potential influence it may exert resides in its influence over the shaping of agendas in other organizations, the formulation of pressing political issues, and by mobilizing actors in their decided networks to carry the issues further, on other organizational platforms and with other organizational mandates.

    Download full text (pdf)
    fulltext
  • 21.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Uneasy alignment: Transparency and opacity at the World Economic Forum2014Conference paper (Refereed)
  • 22.
    Garsten, Christina
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Values aligned: the organization of conflicting values within the World Economic Forum2014In: Configuring Value Conflicts in Markets / [ed] Susanna Alexius, Kristina Tamm Hallström, Padstow: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014, p. 159-177Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 23.
    Jennische, Ulrik
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Governing anticipation: UNESCO making humankind futures literate2023In: Journal of Organizational Ethnography, ISSN 2046-6749, E-ISSN 2046-6757, Vol. 12, no 1, p. 105-119Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Purpose - This paper explores practices of foresight within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) program Futures Literacy, as a form of transnational governmentality–founded on the interests of “using the future” by “emancipating” the minds of humanity.

    Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws on ethnographic material gathered over five years within the industry of futures consultancy, including UNESCO and its network of self-recognized futurists. The material consists of written sources, participant observation in on-site and digital events and workshops, and interviews.

    Findings - Building on Foucault's (1991) concept of governmentality, which refers to the governing of governing and how subjects politically come into being, this paper critically examines the UNESCO Futures Literacy program by answering questions on ontology, deontology, technology and utopia. It shows how the underlying rationale of the Futures Literacy program departs from an ontological premise of anticipation as a fundamental capacity of biological life, constituting an ethical substance that can be worked on and self-controlled. This rationale speaks to the mandate of UNESCO, to foster peace in our minds, but also to the governing of governing at the individual level.

    Originality/value - In the intersection between the growing literature on anticipation and research concerning governmentality the paper adds ethnographically based knowledge to the field of transnational governance. Earlier ethnographic studies of UNESCO have mostly focused upon its role for cultural heritage, or more broadly neoliberal forms of governing.

  • 24.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Arbetarrörelsen och globaliseringen: Bortom nationen som ram?2017In: Civilsamhället i det transnationella rummet / [ed] Filip Wijkström, Marta Reuter, Abbas Emami, Stockholm: European Civil Society Press , 2017Chapter in book (Other academic)
    Abstract [sv]

    I många organisationer i det civila samhället finns det starka inslag av en oreflekterad, banal nationalism, utan att vare sig de historiska rötterna eller organisationens grundläggande uppdrag explicit bär på ett sådant perspektiv. Kopplingen till nationen framträder tydligt och det är lätt att konstruktionen av ett ”vi” (svenskarna) och ett ”de” (icke-svenskarna) slår igenom i såväl diskurs som verksamhet. Med dessa analytiska glasögon, och empiri från intervjuer på lokal nivå (två socialdemokratiska arbetarkommuner) respektive Europa-nivå (fackliga paraplyorganisationer), mejslas i kapitlet gränserna fram för vad man inom den socialdemokratiska arbetarrörelsen anser vara politiskt möjligt när det gäller det transnationella engagemanget. 

  • 25.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Bookreview: Abby Peterson, Contemporary Political Protest, 20012004In: Young - Nordic Journal of Youth Research, ISSN 1103-3088, E-ISSN 1741-3222, Vol. 12, no 2, p. 175-177Article, book review (Other academic)
  • 26.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Den tömda demokratin - och vägarna tillbaka till makten2005Book (Other academic)
  • 27.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Dubbla budskap och enkel solidaritet2011In: Fronesis, ISSN 1404-2614, Vol. 32–33Article in journal (Other academic)
  • 28.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    En trög rörelse: en analys av relationerna mellan LO, Attac och den globala rättviserörelsen.2006In: Sociala rörelser: politik och kultur / [ed] Eyerman, R. & Wetterstedt, Å., Lund: Studentlitteratur , 2006Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 29.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Futuring in Silicon Valley: ontologies of future2017Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 30.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    It is merely changing: An analysis of the concept of individualization in relation to contemporary political participation.2010In: New Forms of Citizen Participation: Normative Implications. / [ed] Amnå, E., Berlin: Nomos verlag , 2010Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 31.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    När vardagen blir politik2005Book (Other academic)
  • 32.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Några ord om artikeln "Behövs medlemmarna"2003In: Sociologisk forskning, ISSN 0038-0342, E-ISSN 2002-066X, no 4Article in journal (Refereed)
  • 33.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Organisatoriska kentaurer i politiken: En diskussion om den politiska samtiden2009In: Från klass till organisation: En resa genom det sociala landskapet / [ed] Roman, Christine & Udehn, Lars, Malmö: Liber, 2009, 1, p. 105-125Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 34.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Organizing Agendas: Understanding think tanks’ agenda setting as partial organizationIn: Acta Sociologica, ISSN 0001-6993, E-ISSN 1502-3869Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Think tanks offer an organizational innovation that can seamlessly merge research, publicity and advocacy. The pronounced increase in their sheer numbers, coupled with their intensified advocacy and more articulate ideological positions, has contributed to growing academic interest. Conceptualizations, descriptions and categorizations of national and transnational think tanks have been put forth, with good results. Scholar definitions and conceptual understandings of what think tanks do have, however, not been sufficiently developed. In particular, the question of how the ability of think tanks to get others to use their ideas is left un-answered. Employing the concept of ‘partial organizing’ the aim of this paper is to analyse how think tanks work in order to be able to set policy agendas contrary to the interest of other actors. The paper is conceptual in its scope, but it draws on interviews at four think tanks in Washington DC, USA, for explaining and exemplifying the argument. It concludes that think tanks set policy agendas by partially organizing its environment.  

  • 35.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Organizing Participation: Establishing a Discourse of Local Democratic Governance for Young People in Sweden2010In: Organizing Democracy: The Construction of Agency in Practice / [ed] Sundström, G., Soneryd, L & Furusten, S., Cheltenham: Edward Elgar , 2010, 1, p. 14-31Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 36.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Politikens globalisering i Emmaboda2005In: Den tömda demokratin: och vägarna tillbaka till makten / [ed] Sörbom, Adrienne, Stockholm: Agora , 2005Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 37.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Politikens gränser: globalisering, socialdemokrati och banden till nationen2012 (ed. 1)Book (Other academic)
  • 38.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Protest som politiskt engagemang: En analys av den globala rättviserörelsen2010In: Politik, protest, populism: deltagande på nya villkor / [ed] Ekman, J. & Linde, J., Malmö: Liber , 2010, p. 1-220Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 39.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Viljan finns: men det ska vara bekvämt2004In: Sopor hit och dit: på vinst och förlust / [ed] Johansson, B., Stockholm: FORMAS , 2004Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 40.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
    Vägen ut: om vardagsnära politiskt handlande som frirum för politiskt handlande2004In: Är vi på rätt väg?: studier om miljöfrågans lösning / [ed] Magnus Boström, Eva Sandstedt, Stockholm: Forskningsrådet Formas, 2004, p. 29-48Chapter in book (Other academic)
  • 41.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Ahrne, Göran
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    The Organization of Global Politics: the case of the labor movementIn: SAGE Open, E-ISSN 2158-2440Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Globalization occurs in a variety of social spheres, and different types of organizations have varying possibilities for becoming global actors. The aim of this paper is to explain why some non-governmental political actors have difficulty acting outside the framework of the nation state whereas others are more succesful. Drawing on the cases of the Socialist International, four European trade unions and Amnesty International, the paper explores organizational preconditions for becoming global political actors. The analysis is based on both contemporary and historical empirical sources, showing that in the cases of the European unions and the Socialist International the prime organizational form chosen for non-national cooperation is the international meta-organization. This form may render international recognition, but is rooted in national organizations making it less suitable for global politics. The best explanation for this un-aptness is strong internal differences, caused by the national embeddedness of political parties and trade unions. The paper points to four factors explaining this embeddedness and the following difficulties: members’ interests, a broad agenda, and the necessity of engaging in solutions, leading to a lack of leadership. Comparing the results with the organizational form of Amnesty International the paper shows that it is the opposite to the meta-organizations of parties and unions. Amnesty is not fighting for the immediate interests of its members; it has a narrow agenda; it does not engage in solutions; and as a result it has strong leadership and can more easily act as a united global actor.

  • 42.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Finnveden, G.
    Björklund, A.
    Carlsson Reich, M.
    Eriksson, O.
    Flexible and robust strategies for waste managment in Sweden.2007In: Waste Management, ISSN 0956-053X, E-ISSN 1879-2456, Vol. 27, no 8, p. S1-S8Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Treatment of solid waste continues to be on the political agenda. Waste disposal issues are often viewed from an environmental perspective, but economic and social aspects also need to be considered when deciding on waste strategies and policy instruments. The aim of this paper is to suggest flexible and robust strategies for waste management in Sweden, and to discuss different policy instruments. Emphasis is on environmental aspects, but social and economic aspects are also considered. The results show that most waste treatment methods have a role to play in a robust and flexible integrated waste management system, and that the waste hierarchy is valid as a rule of thumb from an environmental perspective. A review of social aspects shows that there is a general willingness among people to source separate wastes. A package of policy instruments can include landfill tax, an incineration tax which is differentiated with respect to the content of fossil fuels and a weight based incineration tax, as well as support to the use of biogas and recycled materials.

  • 43.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Discreet Diplomacy: Practices of Secrecy in Transnational Think Tanks2021Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper studies secrecy practices within transnational think tanks. Drawing on ethnographic data from three such organisations, we explore how everyday practices undertaken in secrecy amount to discreet diplomatic efforts. We suggest that transnational think tanks should be understood as “shutter boxes” that engage in three types of secrecy practices: shadowed, hidden, and conspicuously shown. Although outwardly striving for transparency, secrecy practices are vital for transnational think tanks as they strive to establish themselves as actors of consequence in foreign relations and diplomatic circles. Practices of secrecy are part and parcel of the power game played by think tanks, in which all participants learn and master what to discuss and what not to display.

  • 44.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Discreet Diplomacy: Practices of Secrecy in Transnational Think Tanks2023In: The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, ISSN 2047-7716, Vol. 42, no 1, p. 98-117Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This article aims to expand both the analytical gaze of diplomacy studies and anthropological interests in the field of transnational think tanks, advocacy and policy advice. Drawing on ethnographic data from three such organisations, itinvestigates secrecy practices within transnational think tanks, focusing on how everyday practices undertaken in secrecy amount to discreet diplomatic efforts. In a variety of ways, secrecy is utilised as a resource in foreign relations and diplomacy, thereby aiming to leverage status and influence. Although outwardly striving for transparency, secrecy practices are thus vital in the striving of transnational think tanks to establish themselves as actors of consequence in foreign relations and diplomatic circles. It is argued that practices of secrecy are part and parcel of the power games played, in which all participants learn and master what to discuss and what not to display. These practices, however, also imply a challenge in terms of accountability and transparency.  

  • 45.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Södertörns högskola, Sverige.
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Future Fears: Anticipation and the Politics of Emotion in the Future Industry2021In: Culture Unbound. Journal of Current Cultural Research, ISSN 2000-1525, E-ISSN 2000-1525, Vol. 13, no 3, p. 1-25Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper is based on ethnographic work in organizations that form part of what we term the Future Industry – e.g. think tanks, consultancies and governmental bodies – involved in the charting, description and analysis of future scenarios. That is to say, an industry explicitly aiming for organizing the future. In the paper we analyze this industry, which we see as serving and feeding into, the emotional streams of contemporary politics and economics. In the interest of selling beliefs of the future, we suggest that it attempts to make its customers sense the pros and cons of the particular future it puts forth. The paper argues that the mapping and selling of futures to a large extent involves the voicing of “problems” and the presentation of “desirable futures”, the cultivation, articulation and management of fear, anxiety, and hope, as well as a reliance on metrics, reason, and evidence, are central components.

  • 46.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    His Master’s Voice? The Role of Business in the World Economic Forum2013Conference paper (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper departs from an interest in the involvement of business leaders in the sphere of politics, in the broad sense. Many global business leaders today do much more than engage narrowly in their own corporation and its search for profit. At a general level, we are seeing a proliferation of usages of non-market corporate strategies, such as testimony, lobbying, interlocking of positions and other means to influence policymakers at all levels of government and international institutions as an adjunct to the firm’s market strategies. Conversely, there is an enhanced interest on the part of policymakers to influence firm behaviour through multi-stakeholder involvement, public – private agreements and networks forms of governance. The paper brings to the fore the role of corporations in the World Economic Forum, and how firms act through the WEF to advance their interests, financial as well as political. What is the role of business in the World Economic Forum, and how do business corporations advance their interests through the WEF?

    The results show that corporations find a strategically positioned amplifier for their non-market interests in the WEF. The WEF functions to enhance and gain leverage for their ideas and priorities in a highly selective and resourceful environment. In the long run, both the market priorities and the political interests of business may be served by engagement in the WEF.

    However, the WEF cannot only be conceived as the extended voice of corporations. The WEF also makes use of the corporations to organize and expand their own agency, which not necessarily coincides with the interests of multinational corporations. By way of corporate financial resources, the tapping of knowledge and expertise, and access to vast networks of business relations, the WEF is also able to amplify its own voice.

  • 47.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    His Master’s Voice?: The Role of Business in the World Economic Forum2012Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 48.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
    Policy brokers in partially organized fields: the case of World Economic Forum2013In: 8th International Conference in Interpretive Policy Analysis 2013 in Vienna from July 3rd- to July 5th, 2013, 2013Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    As has been noted in research on think tanks it is difficult to describe what a think tank is, and to pinpoint what it is in think tank activities that generates powerful relationships towards other actors (Ricci 1993). This is even more the case when talking of international think tanks. In this paper we give a theoretical account of how these relationships organized by international think tanks may be analyzed.

    Think tanks are often established as non-profit organizations, and hence part of civil society. But because corporations and private foundations often fund them they operate across organizations and organizational spheres, as ‘boundary-spanning organizations’ (cf. Medvetz 2012). In the cross-boundary environment established by think tanks, ideas are disseminated to other actors: governments, authorities, the media and the public.

    Drawing on empirical findings from the World Economic Forum (WEF), seen as a think tank like organization, we suggest that think-tank experts are engaged in the brokerage of ideas and knowledge, implying an intermediary activity, wherein ideas are translated, shaped and formatted (c.f. Smith 1991; Ingold & Varone 2012). Operating at the interfaces of various actors, think-tank experts formulate and negotiate ideas with and among actors, encouraging them to adopt and use those ideas (cf. Mosse 1985; Wedel 2009).

    This brokerage can be seen to generate ‘partially organized fields’ (cf. Ahrne & Brunsson 2011). It organizes other actors not by constructing a complete organization, but by establishing and maintaining a decided network and drawing upon such organizational elements as membership, monitoring and resources.  This allows the think tanks to maintain a degree of flexibility, whilst gaining control of valuable resources.

    The WEF is a not-for profit organization, based in Geneva Switzerland. It was founded in 1971 by Professor Klaus Schwab. Today the organization has approximately 500 employees, financed by the organization’s 1000 members, coming from the largest corporations in the world.  WEF is most known for its annual meeting in Davos, but it hosts a vast number of private meetings around the world, and has built a world wide network of people and organizations coming from many parts of society, such as corporations, churches, NGOs as well as national and international authorities.

  • 49.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE). Södertörn University College, Sweden.
    Risk, resilience, and alternative futures: Scenario-building at the World Economic Forum2016Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The implications of globalization and geopolitical shifts are central concerns in think tanks and other organizations geared to producing knowledge about the contemporary world. The World Economic Forum, a nonprofit international organization headquartered in Geneva, concentrates a large part of its work around the production of The Global Risks Report. The paper discusses the The Global Risks Report and the models of alternative futures outlined in the report, as examples of organizational scenario-building. The report draws on expertise available within the different communities and knowledge networks created by the WEF and builds on research, projects, debates and initiatives piloted by the organization. It is suggested that the risk scenarios articulate a particular form of ‘anticipatory knowledge’, geared to contribute to the shaping of political priorities and agendas. The scenarios aim to shape perceptions of what constitute ‘global problems’, and how they might best be addressed and governed and confer a degree of agency onto the organization and its partner organizations, i.e. the world’s largest transnational corporations. Hence, they contribute to anticipatory governance, i.e. governance geared to integrate imaginaries of the future into regulatory processes.

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  • 50.
    Sörbom, Adrienne
    et al.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Garsten, Christina
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
    Values aligned : the organization of conflicting values within the World Economic Forum2011Conference paper (Other academic)
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