Call for papers to a special issue of Futures [SSCI 1.918, Scopus, FNEGE, ABS]
Steffen Roth, La Rochelle Business School and Yerevan State University
Augusto Sales, KPMG Global Strategy Group Rio de Janeiro
Miguel Perez, University of Alméria
Jari Kaivo-oja, University of Turku
If “the future of management within the context of the emerging information age must become a salient topic for research and scholarship” (McDonald, 2011, p. 806), then the same ought to be true for the future of management theory. Management research is meeting this challenge, first, by delivering a long list of increasingly present future topics such as digital transformation, artificial intelligence, algorithmic finance, robotization, gig economy, ubiquitous organization, or environmental orientation. Second, the field is increasingly competent in using future technologies and seminal social innovations for trend-setting process and method developments in contexts as complex and diverse as big data foresight, multi-stakeholder collaboration, or future-oriented crowdsourcing. Third, most major management theories and paradigms have now been applied to the above list of future topics.
The future of management would be adequately set in stone by now (Drucker, 2002; Hamel & Breen, 2007), were it not for the circumstance that only the first two forms of future orientation actually correspond to the state of arts in foresight and futures studies, whereas the application of traditional theories to future topics necessarily raises concerns in a field so well aware of the performative power of theories and methods (Fuller & Loogma, 2009; Godet, 1986; Godet & Roubelat, 1996). The often implicit assumption that established management paradigms are competent to forecast the future of management, and at best require occasional updates, therefore constitutes a considerable third order risk (Godet, 1986, p. 138), which “is frequent in forecasting where errors are more often the result of asking the wrong questions than of giving the right answer”; and the question remains what management theories have done and can do to manage not only their blind spots and inconsistencies, but also the blinker and streetlight effects caused by their own enlightenment cone.
One adequate strategy to manage these risks is to complement the application of management theories to future topics with the application of topical management theories to these theories themselves. Such recursive applications of theories would point at clear gaps and future challenges of management theory. For example, computer-based decision support systems have, for decades now, been standard topics of management theory, whereas they remain marginal in the context of theoretical decision making. Thus, the standard case of management theorizing remains the moderation of interactions of two or more management theories, a particularly successful model example of which is Johnsen (2015).
By contrast, this Special Issue does not seek theoretical contributions on the future of management, but a diverse set of contributions to the futures of management theory. Manuscripts are welcome that address the subsequent, non-exclusive list of questions:
- (How) Can recent or possible future developments in organisational design inform the organisational design of management theories?
- Who, or what, will be the next management gurus? Will brands, avatars, bots, or algorithms be the future of management theory?
- Theories as programmes? What programmes and programming languages will shape the futures of management theory?
- What are the prospects and where are the places of traditional, “old-European” concepts such as action, values, or causality in the management theories of the future.
- What observational options and types of variables are systematically underexposed in management theory? (Roth, Sales, & Kaivo-oja, 2017)
- What methods or tools are useful to test for the adequacy of, often only implicit, social theoretical foundations of management theories, which include social macro trend assumptions, images of society, and the corresponding grand theories? (Roth & Kaivo-oja, 2016; Roth et al., 2017)
Photo credits: Stephane Halleux.