Department of Culture and Learning



Call for papers

We are delighted to announce that the Call for Papers for the Organisational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities (OLKC) 2020 Conference is now open at the website:

Key dates

  • December 13. 2019 – Deadline to submit abstracts to general and thematic tracks,  (Prolonged from 1st December to 13th December)
  • January 10. Doctoral Workshop: Deadline for uploading abstract in Easychair. 
  • February 7. 2020 – Notification of acceptance
  • April 1. 2020 – Deadline to submit full papers
  • April 21.-24. 2020 – Conference

Conference structure

In line with the OLKC theme ‘Bridging organizational learning’, the conference presents different tracks – A General track and a number of Thematic tracks.

The General track invites submissions broadly concerned with questions of organisational learning, knowledge, innovation and the capabilities that organisations foster or require for operationalising these.
Bridging research and practice through organizational learning is the theme of OLKC 2020 – bridging diverse practices, organisations, people and disciplines in order to explore new perceptions of organizational learning with the intension of creating organizations and companies that are ready for the challenges of the third decade of the 21st century. At the conference, we want to explore the possible positive outcomes of relating and connecting theoretical and practical understandings of organizational learning in new ways. An “out-of-the-box” thinking, to other disciplines, other professional fields and other areas of production, is necessary as new understandings of organizational learning is needed in order to support sustainable organizational development – understandings that can grasp the increasing complexity of the impending decade.

Thematic tracks invite contributions that focus on a specific aspect within the field of organizational learning, in order to survey and build the community, as well as to share latest thinking around questions related to the track. For OLKC 2020, we are excited to invite contributions to the following thematic tracks:

1. Sustainable organizational development

At the UN General Assembly in 2015, the member states adopted Resolution 70/1, "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". The resolution describes 17 goals for global sustainable development, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or simply SDG’s (United Nations, 2015). More or less, every country in the world have subsequently strived to translate the SDG’s into concrete practice. However, the latest survey has shown that none of the UN member states at the moment are meeting the set targets, and the researchers stresses that all countries face massive challenges restructuring policies but also the organizational landscape if they are to reach the defined goals by 2030 (Sachs et al. 2018).
Transition to more sustainable modes of production is a as a set social task for modern enterprises if we are to ensure that future generations will enjoy the same possibilities to fulfill their needs as our generation. However, companies also bear responsibility to owners, shareholders, employees and the community in which the company is located. Thus, successful sustainable transition require that companies find ways to combine sustainable restructuring and business development (Economy, 2016. EU, 2018; B&SDC, 2017).

Research indicates that most companies struggle to adopt a more sustainable model of production (Johnson, 2015; Verboven & Vanherck, 2016; Pinelli & Maiolini, 2017). Thus, more research in sustainable organizational development is needed in order to support the essential turnaround of modern organizations.

In this track, we invite empirical and theoretical papers that explore organizational sustainability initiatives in relation to organizational development and organizational learning. The thematic track is chaired by Associate Professor Nikolaj Stegeager. The track is connected to a special issue that will be published in Journal of Workplace Learning (Emerald Journal -



  • Business & Sustainable Development Commission (B&SDC) (2017). Better Business, Better World – The report of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. Accessible at: [2019, 23-04-2019].
  • Economy, N. C. (2016). The sustainable infrastructure imperative: financing for better growth and development. London, UK. Tilgængelig på: [2019, 23-04-2019].
  • EU (2018). A Clean Planet for all - A European long-term strategic vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy. Accessible at: [2019, 23-04-2019].
  • Johnson, M. P. (2015). Sustainability management and small and medium‐sized enterprises: Managers' awareness and implementation of innovative tools. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 22(5), pp. 271-285.
  • Pinelli, M., & Maiolini, R. (2017). Strategies for Sustainable Development: Organizational Motivations, Stakeholders' Expectations and Sustainability Agendas. Sustainable Development, 25(4), pp. 288-298.
  • Sachs, J., Schmidt-Traub, G., Kroll, C., Lafortune, G., Fuller, G. (2018). SDG Index and Dashboards Report 2018. New York: Bertelsmann Stiftung and Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
  • United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly.
  • Verboven, H., & Vanherck, L. (2016). Sustainability management of SMEs and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. uwf UmweltWirtschaftsForum, 24(2-3), pp. 165-178.

2. Crafting sustainable organizations based on action-oriented and  collaborative approaches to organizational learning

In a time of increasing complexity, individualization and fragmentation, we need to create spaces and communities for identifying and addressing urgent complex organizational problems in order to develop and rethink the ways in which we do organizing. In addition, we need to figure out how to create sustainability in our work life. This track puts emphasis on action research and related collaborative approaches to organizational research where the researcher is engaged in future-forming activities and acts as an agent for change. Action research-oriented approaches, e.g. action research and action learning, are based on democratic participation, research and action (Bradbury, 2015; Greenwood and Levin, 2007). These approaches offer common spaces for creating innovative and sustainable ways of navigating from within the organization itself building on the collaboration between multiple voices and multiple perspectives (Hersted, Ness and Frimann, 2019). In terms of research, collaborative and action-oriented approaches to organizational learning and knowledge creation bridges theory and practice, action, dialogue and reflexivity in order to co-create new knowledge, new ways of organizing and new solutions to complex organizational or environmental challenges.

We invite papers based on a variety of perspectives within action research or related forms of collaborative research, including some of the following:
- Bridgebuilding between theory and practice in action-oriented approaches to organizational learning.
- Co-creation of sustainable ways of learning and organizing.
- Theoretical papers targeting issues of action research based practices and other collaborative approaches to organizational learning and research.
- Case studies applying action research and other collaborative approaches focusing on organizational learning, collaborative knowledge creation and relational research in organizations.

This thematic track is chaired by Associate Professor Søren Frimann and Assistant Professor Lone Hersted.

We also inform you that there is a call for a special issue on action research: “Opening a Window on Action Research”. Qualitative Research in Organization and Management: An International Journal, Emerald Publishing. Please be aware that the deadline for the special issue on action research has been extended to December 20. This SI could maybe be of interest for those of you, who work with action research. More information is available here:


  • Bradbury, H., ed. (2015). The Sage Handbook of Action Research. 3rd edition. London: Sage.
  • Bradbury, H. and AR+ Associates (2017). Cooking with Action Research: Resources for Self and Community Transformation. Kindle Edition. Retrieved from
  • Greenwood, D. J. and M. Levin (2007). Introduction to Action Research: Social Research for Social Change. 2nd ed. London: Sage.
  • Hersted, L., Ness, O. and Frimann, S. (2019) Action Research in a Relational Perspective - Dialogue, Reflexivity, Power and Ethics. New York & London: Routledge.
  • Madsen, C. Ø., Larsen, M.V., Hersted, L. and Rasmussen, J.G. (2018). Relational Research and Organization Studies. New York & London: Routledge
  • McNamee, S. and Hosking, D. M. (2013). Research and Social Change. New York & London: Routledge


3. Inter-organizational learning: Where are we now and where are we going?

The decision for organizations to open up and search for outside knowledge – or to create new knowledge together with external partners – can be investigated from many theoretical perspectives. This thematic track is dedicated to advance our current understanding of this important phenomena from an interorganizational learning perspective. The argument is that interorganizational learning is increasingly becoming a relevant theme because of its potential: it is recognized to create opportunities and outcomes that individual organizations cannot leverage and achieve by themselves (Bruneel et al., 2010; Schulz and Geithner, 2010;). This potential is relevant not only for private organizations (van Winkelen, 2010; Argote, 2011; Martins, 2016; OECD, 2018) but also because of global tendencies such as the increase in collective impact projects (Kania and Kramer, 2011) and increase in co-production activities stemming from the Collaborative Governance wave (Bevir, 2013; Brandsen et al., 2018). Based on this premise, it is more important than ever to study interorganizational learning and also its connection to organizational learning. More precisely, a better understanding is needed of how knowledge is created, transferred and intertwined between and within organizations to create value; both for the individual organization and its partners (Holmqvist, 2003; Greve, 2005; Brix, 2017). Studying the organizing around the processes of exploration and exploitation and the roles required by the people taking part in this ‘two-level-game’ is hence important (Beeby and Booth, 2000; Mariotti, 2012). This thematic track is chaired by Associate Professor Jacob Brix. The track is connected to a special issue that will be published in The Learning Organization (Emerald Journal). More information is available here:


  • Argote, L. (2011), ”Organizational learning research: Past, present and future”, Management learning, Vol. 42 No. 4, pp. 439-446.
  • Beeby, M. and Booth, C. (2000), “Networks and inter-organizational learning: a critical review”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 75-88.
  • Bevir, M. (Ed.). (2013). The SAGE Handbook of Governance. Sage, London, United Kingdom.
  • Brandsen, T., Steen, T. and Verschuere, B. (Eds.) (2018). Co-production and Co-creation: Engaging Citizens in Public Services. Routledge, London, United Kingdom.
  • Brix, J. (2017), ”Exploring knowledge creation processes as a source of organizational learning: A longitudinal case study of a public innovation project”, Scandinavian Journal of Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 113-127.
  • Bruneel, J., Yli‐Renko, H. and Clarysse, B. (2010), ”Learning from experience and learning from others: how congenital and interorganizational learning substitute for experiential learning in young firm internationalization”, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 164-182.
  • Greve, H.R. (2005), ”Interorganizational learning and heterogeneous social structure”, Organization Studies, Vol. 26 No. 7, pp. 1025-1047.
  • Holmqvist, M. (2003), “A dynamic model of intra-and interorganizational learning”, Organization Studies, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 95-123.
  • Kania, J. and Kramer, M. (2011), “Collective impact”. Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter Issue, pp.36-41.
  • Martins, J. T. (2016), “Relational capabilities to leverage new knowledge: Managing directors’ perceptions in UK and Portugal old industrial regions”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 398-414.
  • Mariotti, F. (2012), ”Exploring interorganizational learning: a review of the literature and future directions”, Knowledge and Process Management, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 215-221.
  • Schulz, K. P. and Geithner, S. (2010), ”Between exchange and development: organizational learning in schools through inter-organizational networks”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 69-85.
  • van Winkelen, C. (2010), “Deriving value from inter-organizational learning collaborations”, The Learning Organization, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 8-23.


Submission guidelines

Please submit an extended abstract (1800 words excluding references) by December 1st, 2019. Acceptance notification will be sent by 7th Febuary 2020. Full papers (5,000-7,000 words) will be due by 1st April 2020. The conference use EasyChair as conference management system. Submission Guidelines are available here. Abstracts and papers can be submitted here. Content on the conference website will be added as the event develops and we invite you to check for updates from time to time.

Doctoral Workshop (PhD and DBA) - Organizational learning in a changing world – Tomorrows’ solutions for the problems of today

In this Ph.D. course we will focus on how organizations need to change in order to address the challenges of tomorrow and how research can help promote this change.

The challenge of tomorrow truly calls for interdisciplinary approaches and understandings. Thus, we invite Ph.D. students from all fields of study who are interested in bringing about organizational change to participate in the course. However, the focus of the course will center on concrete action – namely how to bring about actual organizational change through participative, interdisciplinary research.

This PhD course intends to introduce, explore and critically reflect upon different methodological approaches to the study organizational change. The course will take up discussions and explorations into how one can include understandings of global challenges and organizational change in interdisciplinary research.

We invite submissions for our doctoral workshop, which will take place at the University of Aalborg, Campus Copenhagen on 21st and 22nd April 2020. All PhD students participating in the doctoral workshop will be eligible to attend the main conference without additional charge (except for the conference dinner).

The Workshop will provide the opportunity for PhD students to engage with experienced researchers from the OLKC community. An extended abstract of 1000 words should be set out under 7 sub-headings: Objectives, Research methods, (expected) Findings, Research implications, Practical implications, Originality, Key references.

The Workshop will provide the opportunity for PhD students to engage with two international researchers highly recognized with actions research and organizational processes. Furthermore, researchers from the OLKC community will participate in the PhD. workshop.

An abstract of 1000 words should be set out under 7 sub-headings: Objectives, Research methods, (expected) Findings, Research implications, Practical implications, Originality, Key references. Deadline for uploading abstract in Easychair is 10th January 2020. Notification of acceptance for the PhD.-workshop is 1st February 2020.

For the workshop, you must prepare and bring a poster where you present the main challenges, which you currently face in your doctoral studies and bring it to the workshop. (The poster is not to be submitted on beforehand – just bring it)

If you are accepted at the course, and participate in the course you will be required to submit a paper of 4000 words by 1st June 2020, reflecting on your Ph.D.-project based on the issues and topics discussed during the Ph.D. course, if you want to gain the 3 ECTS points.