GRAND SOCIETAL CHALLENGES:
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF BUSINESS, MANAGEMENT AND ORGANISATION STUDIES
Submission Deadline: 28th February 2021
Sven Kunisch (Aarhus University, Denmark)
Dodo zu Knyphausen-Aufseß (TU Berlin, Germany)
Hari Bapuji (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Herman Aguinis (The George Washington University, USA)
Pratima (Tima) Bansal (Ivey Business School, Western University Canada, Canada)
Anne S. Tsui (W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, USA)
IJMR Advisory Editor:
Jonathan Pinto (Imperial College London, UK)
The 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences went to three scholars who pioneered work in understanding and alleviating poverty. The committee noted that ‘one of humanity’s most urgent issues is the reduction of global poverty, in all its forms’, and the laureates´ research had ‘considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty’. Also, in the autumn of 2019, the Economist launched its climate issue, stating, ‘Climate change touches everything this newspaper reports on. It must be tackled urgently and clear-headedly’. These two examples underline the importance of understanding and tackling ‘grand societal challenges’,1 which affect the well-being and even the survival of humankind. As highlighted in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, these challenges include such concerns as climate change, energy and water supply, poverty, inequality, and overpopulation.
Scholars in the disciplines of business, management and organisation studies face increasing pressures to help advance knowledge of these broad societal challenges and provide advice to managers and policymakers on how to tackle them. Many conference themes in recent years, research grant announcements, and initiatives such as Responsible Research for Business and Management (RBBM, www.rrbm.network) also reflect growing pressures to address societal goals (e.g., equality, inclusion, sustainability and well-being) in our research.
This is an opportune time to review the existing knowledge and to provide guidance for future research. Indeed, there is an increasing number of publications on topics that are directly related to grand societal challenges (for examples, see Appendix). The publications span various fields in business, management and organisation studies including, among others, business ethics (e.g., Martí 2018), general management (e.g., DesJardine et al. 2019, Kim et al. 2019), HR and leadership (e.g., Bapuji 2015, Ortiz-de-Mandojana et al. 2019, Schad and Smith 2019), entrepreneurship (e.g., Markman et al. 2019), organisational studies (e.g., Ferraro et al. 2015, Wright and Nyberg 2017), international business (e.g., Buckley et al. 2017), and strategy (e.g., Bowen et al. 2018). Moreover, several special issues on grand challenges have recently been published or are currently underway in Academy of Management Discoveries (Howard-Grenville et al. 2017, Groutsis et al. 2019), Academy of Management Journal (George et al. 2016), Business & Society (Bapuji et al. 2018), Journal of Marketing (Moorman et al. 2018), Journal of Management Studies (Suddaby et al. 2018, Voegtlin et al. 2018), Management Science (Chandy et al. 2019), and Organization Studies (Wittneben et al. 2010, 2012, Amis et al. 2018).
Yet, the existing knowledge is either still emerging or, if mature, often dispersed in and confined to specific areas of research. To this end, we believe that literature reviews play a crucial role in integrating insights across disciplines, building an accumulated body of knowledge and directing future research efforts, especially in emerging areas (Webster and Watson 2002, Tranfield et al. 2003, Kunisch et al. 2018). Indeed, this body of knowledge is the foundation of evidence-based management (Rousseau et al. 2008, Briner et al. 2009, Rynes and Bartunek 2017). For example, Briner et al. (2009) argue that ‘systematic reviews have become fundamental to evidence-based practice and represent a key methodology for locating, appraising, synthesizing, and reporting “best evidence”’ (p. 24). Thus, reviews can help improve ‘impact’ and ‘rigor’ (George 2016, Tsui in-press) of business, management and organizational research.
Therefore, we see a great need and an immense potential to synthesize and integrate the findings from individual studies to advance our understanding of grand societal challenges and to generate actionable insights. Indeed, we believe that a concerted effort is necessary to review and integrate the existing knowledge, accumulate bodies of knowledge, direct future research efforts, and provide advice to managers and policymakers on tackling grand societal challenges.
Aims and Scope
Against this backdrop, the purpose of this special issue of the International Journal of Management Reviews (IJMR) is to take stock of the current state of research concerning grand societal challenges, as well as direct future efforts by summarising and synthesizing the existing knowledge on these topics. Notably, contributions should relate to the roles of business, management and organization studies in influencing or tackling grand societal challenges.
Although the UN´s 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a comprehensive list of topics, we are also open to topics highlighted by other agencies, as long as there is a link to business, management and organization studies (for detailed discussions, see also George 2016, George et al. 2016, HowardGrenville et al. 2017). For example, the European Commission mentions topics such as climate change, clean energy, plastics, cybersecurity and the digital economy as most crucial for its Horizon 2020 funding program. Its focus in the near future will be on cancer, adaptation to climate change, healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters, climate-neutral and smart cities, and soil health and food. Other candidates may be corruption, discrimination, social coherence and ‘developing Africa’. Finally, the outbreak of the Corona virus also brings topics such as pandemics and healthcare to the forefront. We acknowledge that some issues are more pressing and relevant to business, management and organization studies than others, and this special issue is interested in those topics.
This special issue is open-minded regarding review types and methods (Kunisch et al. 2018, Palmatier et al. 2018). However, all reviews in the special issue should provide insights and implications for theory, future research (i.e., knowledge gaps) and practice (including policymaking). They should also identify research gaps and provide inspiring ideas for future work (in terms of phenomena, theories and methods).
We are particularly interested in critical and interdisciplinary reviews. Indeed, the very nature of the topic of our special issue is multi- and cross-disciplinary. For example, George et al. (2016) argue that grand challenges, ‘by their very nature, require coordinated and sustained effort from multiple and diverse stakeholders toward a clearly articulated problem or goal’ (p. 1881). Therefore, this special issue aims to bridge various sub-disciplines in business, management and organization studies and to connect them with adjacent research disciplines in areas such as climate change, poverty and inequality.
Moreover, we encourage submissions covering both emerging streams of knowledge (e.g., the role of management in climate change; big data approaches to health) and mature research areas (e.g., sustainability; inequality). As noted by Webster and Watson (2002), for more developed research areas, reviews can play a crucial role in organising knowledge and redirecting research and, for new research areas, they can provide early guidance.
Examples of Review Topics and Types
Areas of investigation could include (but are not limited to):
Grand societal challenges exemplified by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals: (1) no poverty, (2) zero hunger, (3) good health and well-being, (4) quality education, (5) gender equality, (6) clean water and sanitation, (7) affordable and clean energy, (8) decent work and economic growth, (9) industry, innovation and infrastructure, (10) reducing inequality, (11) sustainable cities and communities, (12) responsible consumption and production, (13) climate action, (14) life below water, (15) life on land, (16) peace, justice and strong institutions and (17) partnerships for the goals.
Grand societal challenges highlighted by other agencies: for example, the European
Commission’s Horizon 2020 topics, which include climate change, clean energy, plastics, cybersecurity and the digital economy. Other future topics include cancer, adaptation to climate change, healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters, climate-neutral and smart cities, and soil health and food.
Grand societal challenges highlighted by conference themes: for example, the AOM 2020 annual conference stresses the importance of topics such as conflict, discrimination, corruption, well-being, economic opportunity and equality, and climate change. Other examples include the AOM 2019 annual meeting theme entitled ‘Improving Lives’ and the 2016 Strategic Management Society annual meeting theme ‘Strategies That Move the World’, as well as several tracks at the EGOS 2020 meeting.
Exemplary research questions pertaining to key debates within the intended scope of this special review issue include, but are not limited to, the following:
To what extent are businesses responsible for the emergence, aggravation, and alleviation of various grand societal challenges?
What is the impact of business firms – or specific types of business firms – on climate change or on producing and reproducing economic inequalities in societies?
How can business firms engage in concerted activities with other profit or non-profit
organisations to address grand societal challenges?
How do firms react to grand societal challenges and what implications do these challenges have on firms’ value chains and business models? What determines their reaction speeds and how do firms overcome the resistance of specific stakeholders against the need for change?
To what extent do firms provide solutions to grand societal challenges? Do these solutions come from start-up firms or from incumbent organisations? What role do specific technologies play?
What do we know about potential conflicts between goals related to the challenges and how do business firms deal with them?
How do the grand societal challenges differ based on country and cultural contexts? How do domestic and multinational firms contribute to their emergence, aggravation, and alleviation?
Which theories and methods in business, management and organization studies contribute to the understanding of various grand societal challenges?
What is the value of various theories in shedding light on grand societal challenges? Do these theories lead to consistent or conflicting hypotheses and insights? Which theories have been empirically tested and have been proven as more robust than others? Which theories need to be revisited?
We encourage the submission of various types of literature reviews and approaches, including:
Domain-based review articles that focus on reviewing a specific area related to grand societal challenges.
Inter- and cross-disciplinary reviews on grand societal challenges, with one of the disciplines related to business, management and organization studies and the others related to adjacent fields.
Theory-based reviews related to business, management and organization studies and grand societal challenges.
Submission Process and Deadlines
28th February 2021: Manuscript submission deadline
1st June 2021: Decisions on initially submitted manuscripts (first round)
1st September 2021: Re-submission deadline for revised manuscripts
14th November 2021: Decision on revised manuscripts (second round)
14th February 2022: Re-submission deadline for revised manuscripts (if needed)
1st June 2022: Final decision on revised manuscripts
July 2022: Publication
Optional special conference and manuscript development workshops:
The guest editors of this special issue are considering facilitating a conference and manuscript development workshop. The special conference may be conducted virtually. Final decisions about this event will be made and communicated in due course.
Authors who are invited to revise and resubmit a manuscript would be invited to attend this workshop. However, attendance would not be a prerequisite for publication nor would participation in the workshop guarantee acceptance of the paper in the special issue.
Paper Submission Information
Manuscripts should follow the Author Guidelines set out by IJMR available at:
Additionally see also:
Breslin, D., Gatrell, C. and Bailey, K. (2020). Developing Insights through Reviews: Reflecting on the 20th Anniversary of the International Journal of Management Reviews. International Journal of Management Reviews, 22(1): 3-9. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12219
Gatrell C. & Breslin D. (2017). Editors’ Statement. International Journal of Management Reviews, 19(1), p. 3. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12133
Jones O. & Gatrell C. (2014). Editorial: The Future of Writing and Reviewing for IJMR. International Journal of Management Reviews, 16(3), pp. 249-264. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12038
Kunisch S., Menz M., Bartunek J. M., Cardinal L. B. & Denyer D. (2018). Feature Topic at
Organizational Research Methods: How to Conduct Rigorous and Impactful Literature
Reviews? Organizational Research Methods, 21(3): 519-523.
Manuscripts should be submitted online via https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/ijmr highlighting that you wish to be considered for the Special Issue ‘Grand Societal Challenges’.
Interested authors are welcome to contact Sven Kunisch: email@example.com with any questions on the special issue content or fit of certain topics with the special issue.
Amis, J.M., Munir, K.A., Lawrence, T.B., Hirsch, P. and Mcgahan, A. (2018). Inequality, Institutions and Organizations. Organization Studies, 39, 1131-1152.
Bapuji, H. (2015). Individuals, Interactions and Institutions: How Economic Inequality Affects Organizations. Human Relations, 68, 1059-1083.
Bapuji, H., Husted, B.W., Lu, J. and Mir, R. (2018). Value Creation, Appropriation, and Distribution: How Firms Contribute to Societal Economic Inequality. Business & Society, 57, 983-1009.
Bowen, F.E., Bansal, P. and Slawinski, N. (2018). Scale Matters: The Scale of Environmental Issues in Corporate Collective Actions. Strategic Management Journal, 39, 1411-1436.
Briner, R.B., Denyer, D. and Rousseau, D.M. (2009). Evidence-Based Management: Concept Cleanup Time? Academy of Management Perspectives, 23, 19-32.
Buckley, P.J., Doh, J.P. and Benischke, M.H. (2017). Towards a Renaissance in International Business Research? Big Questions, Grand Challenges, and the Future of IB Scholarship. Journal of International Business Studies, 48, 1045-1064.
Chandy, R., Dowell, G., Mayer, C., Plambeck, E., Serafeim, G., Toffel, M., Toktay, B. and Weber, E. (2019). Management Science—Special Issue on Business and Climate Change. Management Science, 65, 3447-3448.
Desjardine, M., Bansal, P. and Yang, Y. (2019). Bouncing Back: Building Resilience through Social and Environmental Practices in the Context of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. Journal of
Management, 45, 1434-1460.
Ferraro, F., Etzion, D. and Gehman, J. (2015). Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited. Organization Studies, 36, 363-390.
George, G. (2016). Management Research in AMJ: Celebrating Impact While Striving for More. Academy of Management Journal, 59, 1869-1877.
George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A. and Tihanyi, L. (2016). Understanding and Tackling Societal Grand Challenges through Management Research. Academy of Management Journal, 59, 1880-1895.
Groutsis, D., Vassilopoulou, J., Ozbilgin, M., Fujimoto, Y., Mor Barak, M.E., Greenwood, R. and Shi, J. (2019). Migration ‘Management’: Tensions, Challenges, and Opportunities for Inclusion - Call for Papers for a Special Issue. Academy of Management Discoveries.
Howard-Grenville, J., Davis, J., Dyllick, T., Joshi, A., Miller, C., Thau, S. and Tsui, A.S. (2017). Sustainable Development for a Better World: Contributions of Leadership, Management and Organizations. Academy of Management Discoveries, 3, 107-110.
Kim, A., Bansal, P. and Haugh, H. (2019). No Time Like the Present: How a Present Time Perspective Can Foster Sustainable Development. Academy of Management Journal, 62, 607-634.
Kunisch, S., Menz, M., Bartunek, J.M., Cardinal, L.B. and Denyer, D. (2018). Feature Topic at Organizational Research Methods: How to Conduct Rigorous and Impactful Literature
Reviews? Organizational Research Methods, 21, 519-523.
Markman, G.D., Waldron, T.L., Gianiodis, P.T. and Espina, M.I. (2019). E Pluribus Unum: Impact Entrepreneurship as a Solution to Grand Challenges. Academy of Management Perspectives, 33, 371-382.
Martí, I. (2018). Transformational Business Models, Grand Challenges, and Social Impact. Journal of Business Ethics, 152, 965-976.
Moorman, C., Chandy, R., Johar, G. and Roberts, J. (2018). Call for Papers | Journal of Marketing Special Issue: Better Marketing for a Better World. Journal of Marketing.
Ortiz-De-Mandojana, N., Bansal, P. and Aragón-Correa, J.A. (2019). Older and Wiser: How CEOs’ Time Perspective Influences Long-Term Investments in Environmentally Responsible Technologies. British Journal of Management, 30, 134-150.
Palmatier, R.W., Houston, M.B. and Hulland, J. (2018). Review Articles: Purpose, Process, and Structure. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 46, 1-5.
Rousseau, D.M., Manning, J. and Denyer, D. (2008). Evidence in Management and Organizational Science: Assembling the Field's Full Weight of Scientific Knowledge through Syntheses. Academy of Management Annals, 2, 475-515.
Rynes, S.L. and Bartunek, J.M. (2017). Evidence-Based Management: Foundations, Development, Controversies and Future. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4, 235-261.
Schad, J. and Smith, W.K. (2019). Addressing Grand Challenges’ Paradoxes: Leadership Skills to Manage Inconsistencies. Journal of Leadership Studies, 12, 55-59.
Suddaby, R., Bruton, G.D. and Walsh, J.P. (2018). What We Talk About When We Talk About Inequality: An Introduction to the Journal of Management Studies Special Issue. Journal of Management Studies, 55, 381-393.
Tranfield, D., Denyer, D. and Smart, P. (2003). Towards a Methodology for Developing EvidenceInformed Management Knowledge by Means of Systematic Review. British Journal of Management, 14, 207-222.
Tsui, A.S. (in-press). Guidepost: Responsible Research and Responsible Leadership Studies. Academy of Management Discoveries.
Voegtlin, C., Scherer, A.G., Stahl, G.K., Hawn, O. and Siegel, D. (2018). Special Issue Call for Papers: Grand Societal Challenges and Responsible Innovation. Journal of Management Studies.
Webster, J. and Watson, R.T. (2002). Analyzing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Literature Review. MIS Quarterly, 26, xiii-xxiii.
Wittneben, B.B.F., Okereke, C., Banerjee, S.B. and Levy, D.L. (2010). Special Issue on Climate Change and the Emergence of New Organizational Landscapes. Organization Studies, 31, 629-631.
Wittneben, B.B.F., Okereke, C., Banerjee, S.B. and Levy, D.L. (2012). Climate Change and the Emergence of New Organizational Landscapes. Organization Studies, 33, 1431-1450.
Wright, C. and Nyberg, D. (2017). An Inconvenient Truth: How Organizations Translate Climate Change into Business as Usual. Academy of Management Journal, 60, 1633-1661.