Call for Papers for a Special Issue on

Temporary Organizing

Guest Editors

Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität Berlin

Robert J. DeFillippi, Suffolk University Boston

Andreas Schwab, Iowa State University

Rene M. Bakker, Queensland University of Technology

Organization Studies, the official journal of the European Group for Organization Studies (EGOS), invites submissions for a Special Issue on “Temporary Organizing”.



Today’s turbulent business environment is heralding an increase in organizing in a flexible, ad-hoc manner that involves a constant adaptation to opportunities and change. One salient, yet understudied, way in which firms are changing as a consequence, is on their temporal attributes. Specifically, recent research has documented a rapid rise of temporary organizing principles in firms (Bakker, 2010), ranging from managing short-term projects (Sydow et al., 2004) and forming temporary organizations (Kenis et al., 2009), through to navigating short-term, constantly changing networks (March, 1995), orchestrating (field-configuring) events (Lampel & Meyer, 2008), maintaining temporary clusters (Maskell et al., 2006), and hiring temporary contract workers (Kalleberg, 2000). Such processes have in common the fact that they are explicitly (and intentionally) transient in nature, characterized by intentionally finite time spans. The present special issue seeks to bundle, investigate, and push further the current frontiers of such “temporary organizing” research and deepen our knowledge of how temporary organizing interacts with more permanent organizing forms such as organizations, networks and fields.

Key Questions and Themes

Our current understanding is limited by the lack of a strong theoretical base to understand the structures and processes that are germane to temporary organizing (Bechky & Okhuysen, 2011; Jones & Lichtenstein, 2008; Mohammed & Nadkarni, 2011). More specifically, temporary organizing challenges current theorizing in at least three important ways. These issues illustrate potential areas of interest for the Special Issue, but offer only a starting point, as we welcome creativity in topic, theory and method.

First, temporary organizing requires an explicit focus on transience and limited duration. While generally regarded as a distinguishing characteristic, the transient nature of temporary organizing has received only scant research attention in organization studies (Bakker, 2010). This may be part of a broader neglect of explicit attention to time and temporality in organizational research or the tendency to assume that organizations are formed to last (Ekstedt et al., 1999), but an explicit focus on transience and limited duration is ever more pressing in an area that at its very core revolves around the organization of temporary systems. Specific questions that are left unanswered include:

· How do the shadow of the past (e.g. prior experiences between participants, path dependence) and shadow of the future (e.g. expectations of future interactions and outcomes) influence managing and working in temporary systems?

· What are the effects of different time horizons on functioning and outcomes?

· What exactly is temporary, and how should it be conceptualized? For example, what is the relationship between temporary and temporality?

Second, temporary organizing draws attention to the organizational tensions between the temporary and the permanent. In temporary organizing these two are often inherently intertwined. In fact, the dominant current perspective on projects is that they should be understood in the context of the more permanent organizational structures, institutions, and networks in which they are embedded (Grabher, 2004; Schwab & Miner, 2008; Cattani et al., 2011; Manning & Sydow, 2011). However, current theories rarely address the resulting fundamental tensions. Open questions include, for instance:

· Which tensions and contradictions arise in temporary organizing contexts?

· How are temporary structures and processes integrated, linked or kept separate from, more permanent organizational structures and processes?

· What (additional) managerial activities are required for reflexively relating the temporary to the more permanent?

Third, studying temporary organizing presents unique challenges to develop appropriate research designs that explicitly model and account for the temporality and nested nature of temporary systems. This can take the form of applying or adapting existing methodologies to these contexts, like process research designs to capture emerging and dynamic phenomena in their temporal order (Langley, 2009), and advanced multilevel modeling to better capture cross-level interdependencies pertaining to the often nested nature of temporary organizing (Rabe-Hesketh & Skrondal, 2008). In general, future studies may also benefit from novel research designs that in other ways address implications of temporary organizing.


Based on the above, and following Organization Studies’ (OS) 2004 Special Issue on project organizations (Sydow et al., 2004), the present Special Issue invites manuscripts that aim to deepen our understanding of temporary organizing by applying a processual, temporal lens. We are particularly interested in papers that explicitly address matters related to transience and limited duration, organizational tensions between the temporary and permanent, and those that seek to adapt, apply or develop appropriate research designs for studying temporary organizing. We also welcome manu­scripts that examine theoretically or empirically more generalized features of time and organizing within temporary systems and/or their contexts. We are not only interested in studies that extend current theories, but also in those questioning or even disconfirming widely-held beliefs about temporary organizing. We are open to both empirical and conceptual papers, to papers that focus on micro or macro levels of analysis, and to those that have an outside-in (i.e. taking the perspective from other organization theories looking into temporary organizing) as well as those that take an inside-out perspective (i.e. taking the perspective of specific concepts/theories within temporary organizing and discussing their more general application).

Deadline: Papers must be received by September 30, 2014.

Please note that there will be a related sub-theme hosted by three of the guest editors at the EGOS Colloquium in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in July 2014. Papers presented there may also be submitted to the special issue.

Submission Procedure

OS is hosted on SAGE track a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit to login and submit your paper online. Once you have created your account and you are ready to submit your paper, you need to choose this particular Special Issue from the drop down menu that is provided for the type of submission. Before you do so, please check whether you already have an account in the system. If you have reviewed or authored for the journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created. For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help.

All papers will be double-blindly reviewed following the journal’s normal review process and criteria. Any accepted papers that will not be included in the Special Issue will be published in an ordinary issue at a later point in time. For further information on this Special Issue, please contact Jörg Sydow ([log in to unmask]).


Bakker, R. M. (2010). Taking stock of temporary organizational forms: A systematic review and research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(4), 466-486.

Bechky, B. A. & Okhuysen, G. A. (2011). Expecting the unexpected? How SWAT officers and film crews handle surprises. Academy of Management Journal, 54(2), 239-261.

Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., Frederiksen, L., & Täube, F. (2011) eds. Project-based organizing and strategic management (Vol. 28). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Ekstedt, E., Lundin, R. A., Söderholm, A., & Wirdenius, H. (1999). Neo-industrial organizing: Renewal by action and knowledge formation in a project-intensive economy. London: Routledge.

Grabher, G. (2004). Temporary architectures of learning: Knowledge governance in project ecologies. Organization Studies, 25(9), 1491-1514.

Jones, C., & Lichtenstein, B. (2008). Temporary inter-organizational projects: How temporal and social embeddedness enhance coordination and manage uncertainty. In S. Cropper, M. Ebers, C. Huxham & P. Smith Ring (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Inter-Organizational Relations (pp. 231-255). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Kalleberg, A.L. (2000). Nonstandard employment relations: Part-time, temporary and contract work. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 341-365.

Kenis, P., Janowicz-Panjaitan, M. K., & Cambré, B. (2009) eds. Temporary organizations: Prevalence, logic and effectiveness. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Lampel, J., & Meyer, A. D. (2008). Field-configuring events as structuring mechanisms: How conferences, ceremonies, and trade shows constitute new technologies, industries, and markets. Journal of Management Studies, 45(6), 1025-1035.

Langley, A. (2009). Studying processes in and around organizations. In D. Buchanan & A. Bryman (Eds.), Sage handbook of organizational research methods (pp. 409–429). London: Sage.

Manning, S., & Sydow, J. (2011). Projects, paths, and practices: Sustaining and leveraging project-based relationships. Industrial and Corporate Change, 20(5), 1369-1402.

Maskell, P., Bathelt, H. & Malmberg, A. (2006). Building global knowledge pipelines: The role of temporary clusters. European Planning Studies, 14, 997-1013.

March, J. G. (1995). The future, disposable organizations and the rigidities of imagination. Organization, 2(3-4), 427-440.

Mohammed, S., & Nadkarni, S. (2011). Temporal diversity and team performance: The moderating role of team temporal leadership. Academy of Management Journal, 54(3), 489-508.

Rabe-Hesketh, S., & Skrondal, A. (2008). Multilevel and longitudinal modeling using Stata. College Station, TX: Stata Press.

Schwab, A., & Miner, A. S. (2008). Learning in hybrid-project systems: The effect of project performance on repeated collaboration. Academy of Management Journal, 51(6), 1117-1149.

Sydow, J., Lindkvist, L., & DeFillippi, R. (2004). Project-based organizations, embeddedness and repositories of knowledge: Editorial. Organization Studies, 25(9), 1475-1489.

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