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Date / Heure
Date(s) - 28 mars 2019
12 h 15 min - 14 h 00 min

Tom Lawrence
Professor of Strategy
Saïd Business School,
University of Oxford

Date: Jeudi 28 mars 2019
Heure: 12h15-14h
Lieu: HEC Montréal
Salle: Marie-Husny (1er étage, section verte)

Conférence donnée en anglais
Presentation in English
Apportez votre lunch, café et jus seront servis!



I will present a social-symbolic work perspective for analyzing and understanding the social world. This perspective involves a shift from examining the role of social structures in shaping social action or the processes that underpin social life, to examining the actors and actions that shape those structures and processes, transforming them as well as holding them in place. Although there have emerged a wide range of literatures that examine how actors construct aspects of organizational life, such as emotions, identities, and practices, these literatures have tended to treat those forms of work as isolated forms of action, rather than as a broad family of activities with essential commonalities as well as important differences. What connects these forms of action is their common focus on shaping what we refer to as “social-symbolic objects” – combinations of discursive, relational, and material elements that constitute meaningful patterns in social systems. In organizational life, social-symbolic objects include elements of the organization such as strategies, boundaries, and technologies, as well as the identities, emotions, and careers of members, and the beliefs, assumptions, and categories that populate an organization’s institutional context. Because people’s efforts to change the social world are focused on social-symbolic objects, we refer to these efforts as “social-symbolic work”, which we define as purposeful, reflexive efforts intended to shape or maintain social-symbolic objects in organizational life. The presentation is based on the forthcoming book: Lawrence, Thomas. B. & Phillips, Nelson (2019) Constructing organizational life: How social-symbolic work shapes selves, organizations, and institutions. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Author’s bio

Thomas B. Lawrence is a Professor of Strategy at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. He received his PhD in organizational analysis from the University of Alberta. His research focuses on the dynamics of agency, power, and institutions in organizations and organizational fields. It has appeared in such journals as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Human Relations, and the Journal of Management. He is a co-editor of the Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, 2nd Edition, the Sage Handbook of Organization Studies, 2nd Edition, and Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations.


Ces conférences sont organisées conjointement avec la Chaire en gestion stratégique en contexte pluraliste