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Organizational Plasticity: What is it? How does it work and why does it matter?

Special issue call for papers from Evidence-based HRM

Evidence Based HRM Special Issue Call for Papers

Organizational Plasticity: What is it? How Does it Work and Why Does it Matter?

Edited by Dr Dinuka B. Herath (University of Huddersfield) and Dr Davide Secchi (University of Southern Denmark)

Today's organizations are required to move toward more flexible and adaptive forms (Fioretti, 2012) due to an ever-changing environment and workforce. A combination of flexibility and adaptability that makes internal organizational processes malleable and open to change is summarized here with plasticity. The topic of plasticity specifically in management thought is at its infancy and modern researchers, therefore, have the opportunity to develop these ideas so that we can collectively meet the pressing requirement for organizational agility. In order to achieve this (especially with a novel concept such as this), we require clear an understanding of what ‘organizational plasticity’ entrails both in its current form and its future potential along with an outlet to consolidate the current developments in the topic. This special issue, therefore, aims to be this consolidation point by bringing it knowledge from around the world and a wide range of disciplines to explore organizational plasticity.
In summary, this special issue will welcome empirically oriented contributions from any discipline, including but not limited to psychology, sociology, management, computer science, engineering, cognitive science, decision science, language, artificial intelligence, economics, and philosophy. Submissions may range from quantitative empirical investigations, ABM simulations  to cross-methods studies (with a large quantitative component). More theoretical and philosophical perspectives could be included by shorter “viewpoint” contributions to complement the main articles. Furthermore, one of the challenges of this area of study is that it is both costly and difficult to study. It is so because it usually is practiced by trial-and-error in a fluid process that makes decisions happen while they are made (so-called through doing Magnani, 2007; Secchi, 2011). This makes advanced computational simulation techniques particularly useful. On the one hand, they allow for a representation of a complex adaptive system (Miller & Page, 2007). On the other hand, they (can) maintain strong ties with actual organizations, making their findings particularly relevant. Computational simulation methods are becoming increasingly usefully in management science.
Therefore, this special issue especially welcomes contributions which appreciate agent-based computational simulation (ABM) approaches to the study of the plastic organization. Thus, cumulatively, this special issue not only explores a timely and novel topic but also appreciates modern methodological tools at our disposal for the study of management. This two-pronged contributions therefore will make this special issue important not only to scholars exploring modern forms of management but also scholars who study the use of computational simulations for studying social science.

Fioretti, G. (2012). Two measures of organizational flexibility. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 22 (5), 957-979.
Magnani, L. (2007). Morality in a technological world. Knowledge as a duty. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Secchi, D. (2011). Extendable rationality. Understanding decision making in organizations. New York: Springer.
Miller, J. H. & Page, S. E. (2007). Complex Adaptive Systems. An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Indicative List of Themes

1) Definitions and Characteristics of Plastic Organizations: What is the plastic organization? What are its characteristics and possible shapes? What make it such?
2) Micro (individual) dynamic of Plasticity: What are the characteristics of the individuals that deal with plasticity within the organization? How could contemporary cognitive paradigms such as distributed (Hutchins, 1995) or systemic cognition (Cowley & Vallee-Tourangeau, 2013) help us understand cognitive mechanisms that support or hinder change?
3) Cognitive Elements of Plasticity: How is organizational cognition framed in a plastic organization? How is it different from a standard/non-adaptive organization? Recent work on the crisis of standard cognitive paradigms (Secchi & Adamsen, 2017; Secchi & Cowley, 2016) might be of help.
4) Limitations and Boundaries of Plasticity: What is the limit of organizational flexibility? How much and what kind of flexibility leads to better (or worse) decision making outcomes? Micro and macro levels of analyses are both considered and relevant here.
5) Plasticity and Its Counterparts: Through the famous `garbage can' model (Cohen et al., 1972), the literature indicated that anarchy is sometimes preferable to hierarchy (Fioretti & Lomi, 2010; Herath et al., 2015). Are there other alternatives to the anarchy-hierarchy model? How so?

Submission Info

Deadline for submissions is August 30th 2019 through the ScholarOne manuscript submission portal please follow the author guidelines found here.



Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the wild. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Cowley, S. J. & Vallee-Tourangeau, F. (Eds.). (2013). Cognition beyond the brain. Computation, interactivity and human artifice. London: Springer.
Secchi, D. & Adamsen, B. (2017). Organizational cognition: A critical perspective on the theory in use. In S. J. Cowley & F. Vallee-Tourangeau (Eds.), Cognition Beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice (2nd ed.). (pp. 305-331). Heidelberg: Springer.
Herath, D., Secchi, D., & Homberg, F. (2015). Simulating the effects of disorganisation on employee goal setting and task performance. In D. Secchi & M. Neumann (Eds.), Agent-Based Simulation of Organizational Behavior. New Frontiers of Social Science Research (pp. 63-84). New York: Springer.
Secchi, D. & Cowley, S. J. (2016). Organisational cognition: What it is and how it works. In European Academy of Management Annual Conference. Paris, France.
Cohen, M. D., March, J. G., & Olsen, H. P. (1972). A garbage can model of organizational choice. Administrative Science Quarterly, 17 (1), 1-25.
Fioretti, G. & Lomi, A. (2010). Passing the buck in the garbage can model of organizational choice. Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, 16 (2), 113-143.