Sub-theme 20: Projective cities: Designing, organizing and living in urban spaces


Nils Wåhlin, Umeå School of Business and Economics, Sweden
Timon Beyes, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Malin Näsholm, Umeå School of Business and Economics, Sweden
Barbara Czarniawska, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Call for Papers

The world’s population increasingly lives in cities and cities have become the main centers of globalization. The councillors and managers in those “global cities” invest time, energy and resources to craft strategies aiming at attracting attention of investors and tourists. Organization studies has begun to pay attention to these developments (Czarniawska 2002; Kornberger and Clegg, 2011; Kornberger, 2012). Design of urban spaces, planning the city development, and managing urban operations require many strategic endeavours, which deserve to be investigated. Worldwide competition among global cities places city politicians and managers under considerable pressure as they seek to attract talent, move up city rankings, and attempt to maintain their cities as economically and civically habitable spaces. The process of redesigning the city image the way that attracts attention outside and pleases the citizens becomes an important quest.

In the present overflow of information (Czarniawska and Löfgren, 2012), cities aspire to become laboratories that enable and constrain the sphere of activities where designers and users, planners and inhabitants, ideas and needs meet, clash, become translated and developed. Creative urban spaces are no longer just designers’ projections. Sociologists and architects speak of “projective cities” (Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005; Lee and Jacoby, 2011), and although the former focus the urban projectification (Lundin and Söderholm, 1998) and the latter the urban landscape, the two are entwined. This is why the anthropologists suggest that cities can be considered as a meshwork (De Landa, 1994), where anarchic self‐organizing cohabits with structures and hierarchies.

Major questions for organization scholars are thus as follows: What city development processes can stimulate city residents while simultaneously providing a balance between business and society needs? How can cities be designed to provide urban commons for future generations?

Organization scholars embrace such challenges illuminating the play of power and politics both inside and outside organizations (Clegg et al., 2011). There is a search for a new grammar of organizing (Bengtsson et al., 2007) that contextualizes organizational attempts in a wider societal frame.

We invite papers that address these challenges. Stream papers may address, but are not limited to, reimagining, rethinking, and reshaping research on the following themes:

  • Sustainable cities and urban commons
  • Urban planning versus urban strategies
  • Strategizing city development processes
  • Cultural spaces, institutions and events as drivers for city development
  • Architecture, art and design as reflexive space in city development
  • Co‐creation in city development processes
  • The formation of the projective city
  • Projectification and temporary organizing in cities
  • Urban spaces as meshworks
  • Urban spaces and city development in a brand society
  • Everyday life and organizing in cities
  • Managing big versus small cities – what are the contingencies of scale?


Bengtsson, Maria, Tomas Müllern, Anders Söderholm and Nils Wåhlin (2007): A Grammar of Organizing. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publications.

Boltanski, Luc and Eve Chiapello (2007): The New Spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso.

Clegg, Stewart, Chris Carter, Martin Kornberger and Jochen Schweitzer (2011): Strategy. Theory and Practice. London. Sage Publications.

Czarniawska, Barbara (2003): A Tale of Three Cities. Or the Glocalization of City Management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Czarniawska, Barbara and Orvar Löfgren (eds) (2012): Managing overflow in affluent societies. New York: Routledge.

De Landa, Manuel (1994): Homes: Meshwork or Hierarchy? Doors of Perception 2 @Home Conference, November 5.

Kornberger, Martin and Stewart Clegg (2011): Strategy as Performative Practice: The Case of Sydney 2030. Strategic Organization, 9(2): 136‐162.

Kornberger, Martin (2012): Governing the City: From Planning to Urban Strategy. Theory, Culture & Society, 29(2): 84‐106.

Lee, Christopher and Sam Jacoby (2011): Typological Urbanism: Projective Cities: Architectural Design. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Lundin, Rolf A and Anders Söderholm (1998): Conceptualizing a Projectified Society. In Lundin, Rolf A & Christophe Midler: Projects as Arenas for Renewal and Learning Processes. Boston: Kluwer Academic.

Nils Wåhlin is Associate Professor at Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Sweden. His research focus is practices of organizing, designing and strategizing with a special interest for city development processes. He now leads a three-year research study of European Capitals of Culture.

Timon Beyes is Professor of Design, Innovation and Aesthetics at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, and a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany. His research focuses on processes of organization in the context of urban culture, media and the arts.

Malin Näsholm is Assistant Professor at Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Sweden. Her research interest is mainly on individuals’ experiences of, and influence on, contemporary organizing. She is currently doing research on co-creation and project organizing in Umeå as European Capital of Culture 2014.

Barbara Czarniawska is Professor of Management Studies at GRI, School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Her interest is organizing conceptualized as construction of action nets. She also explores techniques of fieldwork and the applications of narratology in social sciences.

Posted On: June 8, 2014
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