3rd July 2013

CFP: Organizing Charisma: On the Role of Sentimental Relations in Formal Organizations

A call for papers for a panel at the XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, 13-19 July 2014, Yokohama, being jointly convened by RC17 Sociology of Organizations and RC39 Sociology of Disasters.

Abstracts can now be submitted via the ISA 2014 site (deadline 30 September).

Any questions, please let the session organisers know.

Organizing Charisma: On the Role of Sentimental Relations in Formal Organizations

In radical contrast to bureaucratic organization, charisma knows no formal and regulated appointment and dismissal, no career, advancement or salary, no supervisory or appeals body, no local or purely technical jurisdiction, and no permanent institutions in the manner of bureaucratic agencies which are independent of the incumbents and their personal charisma (Weber, 1978, p.1112).

This session invites papers that explore the various ways that charisma, despite Weber’s typological distinction, does find its place within bureaucratic structures. The role played by charisma in organisations varies from personal, informal and ad hoc to impersonal, formal and orchestrated. Some organisations including those based around direct selling or in those consumer finance organisations where personal selling is particularly significant may make the organisation, recruitment, development and promotion of charisma a core task (Biggart, 1989; McFall, 2011; Vargha, 2011).

In other cases, whether by accident or design the charismatic CEO becomes pivotal to the organisation’s corporate identity, its strategy and in some cases its stock market value. There are also instances, for example in electoral campaigning, fan clubs and networks where the organisation exists to orchestrate charisma to attract followers. New forms of networked politics and electoral campaigning of the type seen in the Barack Obama’s electoral campaigning and in a different way in the Occupy movement have produced a series of innovations in the organization, tools, and practice necessary to promote charismatic followings (Kreiss, 2012).

At the same time, global organisations like Google, Apple and Amazon have flourished by developing new techniques of digitally replicating personal relationships through stored transactions. These techniques all rely upon the incorporation and strategic management of relations, sentiments and arts within formal organisations. This includes shaping charismatic relationships through tools and devices from branding, to website optimisation, to customer relational management software etc. Questions include:

  • What role does charisma play in formal organisations?
  • How is charisma socially and materially managed, distributed and deployed within organisations?
  • What might an analysis of sentimental forms of relation bring to Organisation Theory?
  • Are the distinctions between charismatic, bureaucratic and traditional organisations still meaningful?
  • How are the tools and devices associated with social media, ‘big’ and transactional data, web 2.0 technologies, etc., used to organise charisma?
  • In what ways can branding and design organise corporate charisma?

Session Organizers
Elizabeth McFall, Open University, e.r.mcfall@open.ac.uk
Joe Deville, Goldsmiths, University of London, j.deville@gold.ac.uk

For more information see the RC17, Research Committee on the Sociology of Organization ISA page.