PhD Courses in Denmark

Perspectives in Organizational Analysis

CBS PhD School


Paul du Gay, Lasse Folke Henriksen, Tor Hernes, Jan Mouritsen, Sara Muhr, Majken Schultz, Morten Thanning Vendelø, and Susanne Boch Waldorff.


Course coordinator

Susanne Boch Waldorff & Morten Thanning Vendelø



The PhD students must submit a five-pages student paper, in which they select and relate two perspectives from the course literature to their research project. The paper must inclu-de specific references to the literature applied. Deadline for submission of student papers is November 6, 2020.

The student papers serve as input to discussions during the course, and the students must prepare for and participate in group work.

Also, the students must prepare a poster and bring it to the course on the first day. The poster should illustrate their current research question, empirical case, data collection, and theoretical framework. We will hang all posters in our course room, and encourage the students to use their poster, when they present their project, as well as when they discuss their project with other par-ticipants during breaks, etc.



This course introduces and familiarizes PhD students to a set of analytical perspectives, which are well-alive in contemporary organizational analysis. The core idea of the course is to give the PhD-students an opportunity to work with a variety of perspectives in organiza-tional analysis and engage in discussions of contemporary research and concepts within this field.


Course content

Our ambition is to enable PhD students to mobilize different analytical perspectives in or-ganizational theory and inspire them to ‘see’ something different and new in their own em-pirical work. Thus, the course seeks to increase participant’s reflexivity on the role of theo-ries in ‘making objects for research’.

The course will enable PhD students to work with theories as ‘tools’ for making research and empirical inquiries. However, theories are not innocent or neutral. They form and frame the phenomena being studied. Theories frame phenomena because they depict cer-tain properties of entities as central (actors, meanings, and organizations), certain rela-tions, certain developmental processes, and certain causalities (linear or non-linear). It is critical to understand how the choice of theory for organizational studies highlights certain entities and processes, while others fade.

The observer and the object are not separate but co-produced in the research process, and the empirical data are not just ‘given out there’, as the researchers’ empirical data are con-structed through selection and edited based on the theoretical tools mobilized. Theories are not considered as something that has to be ‘proven’, but more as resources for ‘seeing, discussing, imagining’ interesting properties of the phenomena studied.

Theories are devices for making sense of phenomena – and at the same time the empirical field is a not a passive thing, because how researchers engage in an empirical field also sha-pes how they come to ‘see and understand’ phenomena.

The course will be explicit about how this new understanding can be linked to your own projects.


Teaching style

Dialogue lectures and group work.


Lecture plan


Monday, November 23, 2020 – Introduction, Organizational Structures – Formal and Informal

8.30 – 9.00

Coffee/ tea

9.00 – 10.00

Welcome, introduction to the course and presentation of participants, Morten Thanning Vendelø and Susanne Boch Waldorff

10.00 – 12.00

Formal Organizations, Professor Paul du Gay

12.00 – 12.45

Group Work I

12.45 – 13.30


13.30 – 15.30

The Network Perspective, Associate Professor Lasse Folke Henriksen

15:30 – 16:30

Group Work II + Reflections on the Day


Tuesday, November 24, 2020 – Organizational Identity and Organizational Time

 8.30 – 9.00


9.00 – 11.00

Organizational Identity, Professor Majken Schultz

11.00 – 12.00

Group Work III

12.00 – 13.00

Lunch + Walk and Talk

13.00 – 15.00

Organizational Time, Professor Tor Hernes

15.00 – 16.30

Group Work IV + Reflections on the Day




Wednesday, November 25, 2020 – The Institutional Perspective and The Sense-Making Perspective

8.30 – 9.00


9.00 – 11.00

The Institutional Perspective, Associate Professor Susanne Boch Waldorff

11.00 – 12.00 

Group Work V

12.00 – 13.00

Lunch + Walk and Talk

13.00 – 15.00

The Sense-Making Perspective, Professor Morten Thanning Vendelø

15.00 – 16.30

Group Work VI + Reflections on the Day


Thursday, November 26, 2020 – Actor-Network theory and the Critical Management Perspective

8.30– 9.00


9.00 – 11.00

Actor-Network Theory, Professor Jan Birkelund Mouritsen

11.00 – 12.00

Group Work VII

12.00 – 13.00

Lunch + Walk and Talk

13.00 – 15.00

The Critical Management Perspective, Professor Sara Louise Muhr

15.00 – 16.30

Group Work VIII + Reflections on the Day


Friday, November 27, 2020 – How theories define and privilege certain ways to understand and study organizations

8.30 – 9.00


9.00 – 12.00

Course wrap up. Reflections on:

-        What kind of research questions are relevant and possible to ask in each perspective?

-        How do organization theories make certain properties of the object ‘organization’ visible and analyzable - how may this influence the research design?

-        How has your participation in the course changed how you think about your Ph.D.-project?

12.99 - 13.00


Learning objectives

After participating in the course, the students will be able to:

  • Critically reflect on how the choice of theory for organizational analysis brings certain entities and processes into the foreground while others recede into the background.

  • Account for the theoretical positions presented in the course and critically reflect on how they can be applied in their Ph.D.-projects.

  • Account for contemporary debates in organization theory and know how their projects are positioned in relation to these debates.




Course Literature

  • Barnard, (1938/1968) The Functions of the ExecutiveHarvard University Press: Chapter VI – The Definition of Formal Organization (pp. 65-81) – and Chapter VII – The Theory of Formal Organization (pp. 82-95).

  • Urwick, L. (1967) Why Do We Need Formal Organization?

  • du Gay, P. & Vikkelsø, S. (2017)For Formal Organization: the past in the present and the future of Organization Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Chapter 6 Authority and Authoriza-tion pp. 150-173).

  • Podolny, J. M., & Page, K. L. (1998) Network Forms of Organization. Annual Review of Sociolo-gy, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 57-76.

  • Granovetter, M. S. (1977) The Strength of Weak Ties. In: Social networks(pp. 347-367). Acade-mic Press.

  • Meyer, J. W., & Rowan, B. (1977) Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure and Myth and Ceremony. American Journal of Sociology, vol. 83, no. 3, pp. 340-363.

  • Johansen, C. B., & Waldorff, S. B. (2017) What are Institutional Logics - and Where is the Perspec-tive Taking Us? In: C. Mazza, R. Meyer, G. Krucken & P. Walgenbach (eds.), New Themes in Insti-tutional Analysis: Topics and Issues from European Research. Chelterham: Edward Elgar, pp. 51-76.

  • Waldorff, S. B. (2013) Accounting for Organizational Innovations: Mobilizing Institutional Logics in Translation. Scandinavian Journal of Management, vol. 29, no. 3, pp 219-234.

  • Weick, K. E., Sutcliffe, K. M., & Obstfeld, D. (2005) Organizing in the Process of Sensemaking. Or-ganization Science, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 409-421.

  • Maitlis, S., & Sonenshein, S. (2010) Sensemaking in Crisis and Change: Inspiration and Insights from Weick (1988). Journal of Management Studies, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 551-580.

  • Vendelø, M. T. (2016) Disasters in the Sensemaking Perspective: The Præstø Fjord Accident. In: R. Dahlberg, O. Rubin & M. T. Vendelø (eds.) Disaster Research – Multidisciplinary and Internatio-nal Perspectives. London: Routledge, pp. 176-188.

  • Gioia, D. & Hamilton, A. (2016) Great Debates in Organizational Identity Study. In: M. Pratt, M. Schultz, B. Ashforth & D. Ravasi (eds.) Handbook of Organizational Identity. Oxford. Oxford University Press, pp. 21-38.

  • Schultz, M. (2016) Organizational Identity Change and Temporality. In: M. Pratt, M. Schultz, B. Ashforth & D. Ravasi (eds.) Handbook of Organizational Identity. Oxford. Oxford University Press, pp. 93-105.

  • Schultz, M., & Hernes, T. (2019) Temporal Interplay between Strategy and Identity: Punctuated, subsumed, and sustained modes. Strategic Organization, articles in advance, pp. 1-30.

  • Ancona, D. G., Goodman, P. S., Lawrence, B. S., & Tushman, M. L. (2001) Time: A New Research Lens.Academy of Management Review, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 645–663.

  • Orlikowski, W. J., & Yates, J. (2002) It’s About Time: Temporal Structuring in Organizations. Or-ganization Science,v 13, no. 6, pp. 684-700.

  • Hernes, T. & Schultz, M. (forthcoming) A Situated View of Organizational Temporality: How Ac-tors Bring the Distant into the Present. Organization Theory.

  • Latour, B. (1984) The Powers of Association. The Sociological Review vol. 32, pp. 264-280.

  • Harris, J. (2005) The Ordering of Things: Organization in Bruno Latour. The Sociological Review, vol. 53, no. s1, pp. 163-177.

  • Mol, A. (2010) Actor-Network Theory: Sensitive Terms and Enduring Tensions. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, vol. 50, no. 1 pp. 253-269.

  • Alvesson, M., Bridgman, T. & Willmott, H. (2011) Introduction. In: M. Alvesson, T. Bridgman & H. Willmott (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Critical Management Studies. Oxford: Oxford Uni-versity Press.

  • Muhr, S. L. & Kirkegaard, L. (2013) The Dream Consultant: Productive Fantasies at Work. Cultu-re & Organization, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 105-123.

  • Muhr, S. L. & Salem, A. (2013) Specters of Colonialism – Illusionary Quality and the Forgetting of History in a Swedish Organization. Management & Organizational History, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 62-76.


DKK 6,500. The fee covers the course, lunch, tea/coffee and one dinner 

For more information and course registration please visit the CBS Phd web site.