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Social and Organizational Theories of Transformation - 4 ECTS Postponed

Date and time

Monday 13 May 2024 at 12:30 to Friday 17 May 2024 at 13:30

Registration Deadline

Tuesday 9 April 2024 at 23:55


Porcelænshaven - room PH18B 1.18 (first floor), Porcelænshaven 16B, 2000 Frederiksberg Porcelænshaven - room PH18B 1.18 (first floor)
Porcelænshaven 16B
2000 Frederiksberg

Social and Organizational Theories of Transformation - 4 ECTS Postponed

Course coordinators: Poul Fritz Kjær & Mathias Hein Jessen, Department of Business Humanities and Law (BHL)

Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS
Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS
Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS
Department of Business Humanities and Law, CBS

Prerequisites and progression

The student must be registered on compatible PhD-programme. In order to participate in the course, the student must submit a 5-page essay in advance of the course, at the latest 1 May 2024 in which the student discusses and reflects about the role of transformation in their PhD-project. In order to receive the course diploma, participants have to be present during the whole course period, have read the literature, engage actively in teaching and discussions. After the conclusion of the course, the student must submit an essay (max. 10 pages), based on the initial essay, engaging with the theories and discussions of the class in relation to the student’s own PhD-project.
Deadline for submission is 14 June 2024 in order to receive comments from teachers. Essays can be submitted for approval without comments until 10 August 2024. After this date, submissions cannot be made. Submission and approval of essay is necessary in order to be awarded ECTS-points.


We live in a world defined by crises and transformation. Environmental degradation, climate crisis, financial crisis, populism, pandemics, military conflicts, falling legitimacy of political and economic elites and institutions, and many more. As a result, organizations and businesses are increasingly focusing on transformation as a way to encounter the ‘crisis of legitimacy’ confronting the current setup of economy and society, just as politicians and policy-makers on all sides of the political spectrum calls for the economy to be more thoroughly (re-)embedded within society.             
This course enables the students to critically interrogate and analyse the foundations of the economy and corresponding organisational models. It also gives insights into alternative ways of imagining it by drawing on social and organizational theory. The course introduces the students to a number of different approaches and understandings of what transformation is and how we can understand it, rooted in social, political and organizational theory. It also gives the student insights into both the dominant organizational and corporate forms, forms of economic thinking and rationalities, as well as into transformative potentials and alternative organizational forms.
Course content

Module 1: Theories of transformation

This module introduces to the course in general, the approach, the current problems and challenges that we encounter, as well as introducing to a number of social theory paradigms of transformation. It asks the fundamental question: where does transformation come from and who are the agents of transformation? It also outlines how transformation has been and can be thought.

Module 2: Transforming political economy

This module goes into depth with theories of capitalism, its development as well as different critiques of it. The module introduces different ways of thinking the economy, economic relations and the role of organizations, business and corporations within it. It outlines the historical transformation in the conception and organization of political economies and goes into discussions about forms of reimagining capitalism and alternative economies, societies and communities.

Module 3: Transforming the corporation

This module goes into depth with the most dominant organizational form of our economy: the corporation. The module introduces to the history and evolution of the corporation form, and its congealment in the private, publicly owned multinational corporation. It also introduces to recent critical theories of the corporation and a political theory of the corporation as well as alternatives to the corporations and attempts to transform it through cooperatively- and worker-owned corporations, workplace democracy and purpose.

Module 4: Transforming the workplace

This model explores different ways to democratize the workplace as well as discusses the various historical, political, and conceptual reasons why such a democratization might be desirable. In addition, the module will introduce theories of ‘post-work’ society in political theory and political economy, i.e., theories concerning the transformation of the workplace in specific and labour markets in general due to increased automation and other technological developments. 

Module 5: Transforming organizing

This module focuses on the theory and practice of 'alternative organizations’ as discussed in management and organization studies. It interrogates the notion of alternatives by exploring the normative foundations, practices and challenges of ‘organizing differently’. It introduces critical frameworks for studying such organizations and explores alternative conceptions of innovation, leadership, diversity and digitalism that seek to challenge the prevailing dominance of shareholder value, growth and competition in capitalist organizing.

Teaching style

The course consists of 5 modules, each taking up a different theme. Each module consists of lectures, discussions and case work. Each module will introduce a theoretical and critical approach to a dominant aspect of our current economic situation, as well as approaches to its transformation.

Lecture plan

Day 1: Monday

Module 1: Theories of transformation

12:30-13:00: Welcome and introduction (Poul F. Kjaer & Mathias Hein Jessen)

13.00-14:30 Session 1: Lecture: Paradigms of transformation (Poul F. Kjaer & Mathias Hein Jessen)

15:00-16:30: Session 2: Workshop: Introductions (Poul F. Kjaer & Mathias Hein Jessen)

18:30: Welcome dinner. 

Day 2: Tuesday

Module 2: Transforming political economy

09.00-10.30: Session 3: Lecture: Defining, historicizing and criticizing capitalism (Mathias Hein Jessen/Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen)

11.00-12.30: Session 4: Lecture: Three paradigms of political economy: corporatism, neo-corporatism and governance (Poul F. Kjaer)

12:30-13:30: Lunch

13:30-15: Session 5: Lecture: Transformation through competition (law) (Poul F. Kjær)

Day 3: Wednesday 

Module 3: Transforming the corporation

09:00-10:30: Session 6: Lecture: The corporate form and shareholder value maximization (Mathias Hein Jessen)

11:00-12:30: Session 7: Lecture: The political theory of the corporation (Mathias Hein Jessen)

12:30-13:30: Lunch

13:30-15:30 Session 8: Paper discussions (Mathias Hein Jessen/Poul F. Kjær)

Day 4: Thursday 

Module 4: Transforming the workplace

09:00-10:30: Session 9: Lecture: Workplace democracy and democratic business (Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen)

11:00-12:30: Session 10: Discussion: Post-work society (Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen)

12:30-13:30: Lunch

13:30-15:30:  Session 11: Paper discussions (Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen/Mathias Hein Jessen)

Day 5: Friday 

Module 5: Transforming organizing

09.00-10.30: Session 13: Lecture: Organizing for change: Defining alternative organizations (Birke Otto)

11.00-12.30: Session 14: Discussion: Practicing alternative organizing (Birke Otto)

12:30-13:30: Lunch, evaluation and goodbye (Mathias Hein Jessen & Poul F. Kjær)


Readings (preliminary list)

Anderson, E. (2019). Private government: How employers rule our lives (and why we don't talk about it). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 2: Private government, pp. 37-71.

Blair, M.M. (2013). Corporate Personhood and the Corporate Persona, University of Illinois Law Review, pp. 775-820.

Chen, K.K. & Chen, V.T. (2021). “What If” and “If Only” Futures Beyond Conventional Capitalism and Bureaucracy: Imagining Collectivist and Democratic Possibilities for Organizing. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, (72), pp. 1-28. 

Ciepley, D. (2013). Beyond public and private: Toward a political theory of the corporation. American Political Science Review, 107(1), pp. 139-158.

Davis, G. F. (2016). Can an Economy Survive Without Corporations? Technology and Robust Organizational Alternatives. Academy of Management Perspectives, 30(2), pp. 129–140.

Ehrnström, M. & Biese, I. (2022). The act of (de/re)growing: Prefiguring
alternative organizational landscapes. Human Relations, pp. 1-22.

Ferreras, I. (2017). Firms as political entities: Saving democracy through economic bicameralism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Introduction: ‘What about the Workers?’, pp. 1-20.

Foucault, M. (1984). What is Enlightenment?, in: P. Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader, New York: Pantheon Books, pp. 32-50. 

Fotaki, M. and Foroughi, H. (2021). Extinction Rebellion: Green Activism and the Fantasy of Leaderlessness in a Decentralized Movement. Leadership 0(0), pp. 1-23

Fraser, N. & Jaeggi, R. (2018). Capitalism. A Conversation in Critical Theory, Cambridge: Polity Press. Chapter 1: ’Conceptualizing Capitalism’, pp. 13-47. 

Friedman, M. (1970). A Friedman doctrine – The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits, The New York Times, September 13. 

Hayek, F.v. (1944). The Road to Serfdom, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (condensed version, published in the Reader’s Digest, April 1945 edition, pp. 39-70.

Kjaer, P.F. (2014). Towards a Sociology of Intermediary Institutions: The Role of Law in Corporatism, Neo-Corporatism and Governance. In M.R. Madsen and C. Thornhill (eds.), Law and the Formation of Modern Europe: Perspectives from the Historical Sociology of Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 117 - 141.

Kjaer, P.F. (2015). Context Construction through Competition: The Prerogative of Public Power, Intermediary Institutions and the Expansion of Statehood through Competition. Distinktion, 16(2), pp. 146-166.

Polanyi, K., (2001)[1944]. The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of our Time Boston: Beacon press. Chapter 5 & 6, ‘Evolution of the Market Pattern’ & ‘The Self-Regulating Market and the Fictitious Commodities: Labor, Land, and Money’, pp. 59-80.

Learning objectives

The course offers insight into:·  
  • Various theoretical paradigms and approaches to transformation·   
  • Theoretical understandings of the relation between the economy and society, as well as contemporary challenges
  • Historical, contemporary and future transformations of corporate constitutions and organizational forms, e.g. stakeholder models, shareholder models, cooperative models
  • Economic, political, legal, sociological, philosophical and historical approaches to corporate and organizational forms and governance in a societal perspective, with a focus on societal legitimation struggles 
  • Alternative organizational forms and other ways and approaches to transforming economy, work and society.


Registration deadline and conditions

The registration deadline is 03 April 2024. If you want to cancel your registration on the course it should be done prior to this mentioned date. By this date we determine whether we have enough registrations to run the course, or who should be offered a seat if we have received too many registrations.

If there are more seats available on the course we leave the registration open by setting a new regsitration deadline in order to fill remaining seats. Once you have received our acceptance/welcome letter to join the course, your registration is binding and we do not refund your course fee. The binding registration date will be the registration deadline mentioned above.

Payment methods

Make sure you choose the correct method of payment upon finalizing your registration:

CBS students:
Choose payment method CBS PhD students and the course fee will be deducted from your PhD course budget.
Students from other Danish universities: 
Choose payment method Danish Electronic Invoice (EAN). Fill in your EAN number, attention and possible purchase (project) order number.
Do you not pay by EAN number please choose Invoice to pay via electronic bank payment (+71). 
Students from foreign universities:
Choose payment method Payment Card. Are you not able to pay by credit card please choose Invoice International to pay via bank transfer. 
Please note that your registration is binding after the registration deadline.

Event Location

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Organizer Contact Information

CBS PhD School
Nina Iversen

Phone: +45 3815 2475

Organizer Contact Information

CBS PhD School
Nina Iversen

Phone: +45 3815 2475