AMJ Special Research Forum - Our Transformation Era: Implications for Management and Organizations

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AMJ Special Research Forum Call for Submissions: Our Transformation Era Submission deadline 30 November 2023.

Academy of Management Journal 
Special Research Forum
Our Transformation Era: Implications for Management and Organizations

Known for his philosophy of change and impermanence, ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying that one cannot step into the same river twice (Bardon, 2016). Today, his metaphor seems more current than ever.

On the one hand, new technology is fundamentally changing how firms can be organized and governed, and how they are able to create and capture value within and beyond their boundaries. This is so to the point where one might question whether the “firm” or more generally the “organization” (usually conceptualized as a self-contained and bounded unit) is the most appropriate unit of analysis for understanding today’s managerial and organizational challenges. The rapid growth of available data in combination with machine learning (artificial intelligence) is changing the ways in which people and organizations solve problems, enabling the automatization of many organizational processes, and fueling the emergence of new product/service categories, new business models, novel platforms, eco-systems, and organizational forms. Similarly, the combined effects of digitalization, widespread use of hybrid work models and flexible workspaces challenge and transform established notions of the workplace—thereby affecting the very nature of work, our understanding of work-life integration, leadership, and many other topics.

On the other hand, as broad societal concerns, such as climate change, food shortages, declining health, poverty, equity, and global migration become more pressing, penetrating our awareness as never before (not least because of the recent experience of a global pandemic), there is increasing realization that firms need to move beyond a narrow focus on financial measures, to extend their horizons to a broader set of goals and fundamental responsibilities. Concepts of sustainability, resilience, and purpose call on organizations to adopt a more holistic and inclusive approach to management that considers the long-term effects of an organization’s activities on the well-being of people and the planet alongside traditional short-term outcomes. This also requires managers to transform their organizations into entities where diverse internal and external stakeholders are represented and actively involved. Moreover, these trends are likely to demand the creation and development of new intersectoral forms of organizing with transformational potential that reach beyond any single entity.

Parallel to these emerging new realities, scholars are challenged, perhaps more than ever before, to rapidly advance our understanding of emerging topics, to question the applicability of existing theories to develop potentially more suitable theories, and to spell out the practical and policy implications of their research. Not least, several of the observed technological changes also bring about important methodological advances (e.g., in machine learning; multisite netnography; digital trace data; neuroscience methods) that enable scholars to shed light on questions that have hitherto been elusive to empirical research. While these methodological advances open many new research opportunities, they also require scholars to change their approach to positioning research questions, data collection, and analysis, and demand a heightened sensitivity to research ethics.

At the same time, if scholars are to contribute in a timely manner to shape these ongoing transformational trends, they may need to reach beyond simply studying phenomena retrospectively and consider ways to engage in what we might call “researching forward.” Notably, Karl Weick pointed to the need to narrow the gap between the forward-thinking stance of practitioners who worry about to what to do next, and our scholarly theorizing that is mostly oriented towards explaining the past: “Theorists who are able to narrow the gap between understanding and living, or between the present-to-hand stance of the spectator and the ready-to-hand stance of the agent, are more likely to generate work that is judged to be moving.” (Weick, 1999: 135). This might mean engaging in real-time studies of ongoing issues, collaborative inquiry, field experiments, prospective case studies, or “racing designs,” which remain empirically open-ended to the future, and to direct engagement with practice.

This Special Research Forum (SRF) seeks to encourage research that offers novel insights into the implications of this transformational era for management and organizations. Such research challenges established understandings of organizational phenomena and provides pathways to the theoretical explanation of such phenomena. It restructures and metamorphosizes our means of inquiry to enhance and extend what we know about management theory and practice. It also leads to the creation of new paradigms and areas of scholarship within the field of management.

Examples of such topics include: 

  • How can people and artificial intelligence collaborate in the creative enterprise?
  • How does artificial intelligence change collaboration and competition between firms?
  • How are digitalization trends influencing conceptions of work, organizations, and organizing?
  • How do employees, managers, and organizations manage the dark sides of technological transformation (e.g., deskilling, isolation, loss of identity, improper surveillance)?
  • How might neuroscientific or physiological measurement methods provide insight into employee experiences at work?
  • How can employees and organizations help to drive social impact, and how might different forms of organizing be leveraged to address societal concerns?
  • What are new paradoxes faced by organizations, and how might they be managed by organizational leaders?
  • How and with what effects are scientific knowledge and practitioner tools being mobilized in efforts to implement large-scale transformational and system change?
  • How and with what effects can novel methods and research designs be employed, considering our goal to better “sense” and preemptively theorize the future?

Consistent with the mission of AMJ, we seek to publish original, important, and theoretically bold studies based on quantitative, qualitative, field, laboratory, meta-analytic, mixed, or other empirical methods. The use of novel or less commonly used methods is particularly encouraged. Given the pressing nature of many topics associated with the theme of this SRF, we expect authors to explain how practitioners can benefit from their new research insights.

Timeline and Submission

Submission deadline is 30 November 2023.

Contributors should follow the directions for manuscript submission described in “Information for Contributors” in the front of each issue of AMJ and on AMJ's Contributor Information Page.

Submitted manuscripts will be handled by the current editorial team of AMJ. We will be reviewing submissions with an open mind to new questions, research designs, novel theorizing, and new methodological approaches. Although we encourage novelty in theorizing and methods, we will uphold Academy of Management Journal standards of logical and empirical rigor. Strong manuscripts that do not quite fit the mission of this SRF may be “switched” to AMJ’s “regular” review process for evaluation as potential non-SRF contributions to the Academy of Management Journal.

For queries about the submission process, please contact AMJ’s Senior Managing Editor, Michael Malgrande.


  • Bardon, A. 2016. The metaphysics of time. London: Routledge.
  • Weick, K. 1999. That’s moving: Theories that matter, Journal of Management Inquiry, 8(2): 134-142.