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Cambridge Markets, Organisations & Society (CMOS) Research Group

Occupy protestor

About CMOS

Organisation theorists started out as scholars of management: they looked at management practices as well as the formation and operation of corporations as phenomena that were increasingly crucial in how the world functioned. More recently, however, many organisation theorists have been accused of going from scholars to cheerleaders of large corporations, doing research which is methodologically sound but lacks a moral imperative or sensitivity to social and individual plight.

Such criticism has gained strength since the global financial crisis of 2007. While for decades markets served as the main organising principle of society, this role has come to be questioned vociferously in the past few years. Increasing tensions have sometimes culminated in riots or 'occupy' movements.

For the most part, organisation theorists have taken the markets-society relationship as static, and a given. As large corporations dominate the business landscape, and exert influence over policy, this comfortable assumption must be challenged. The relationship between markets, organisations and society is changing, and organisation and management theory needs to develop a better understanding of it.

The CMOS Research Group serves to catalyse further work in this area. It encourages initiatives to study organisations in their socio-economic context, and the dynamics of economy and society with respect to the role played by corporations. It brings a distinctly 'institutional' perspective to bear on economic, social and organisational problems and issues, facilitating discussions on how phenomena such as inequality are institutionalised and maintained. At the same time, it urges scholars to investigate the role of social enterprises or the third sector in the markets-society-organisations relationship.

In short, CMOS acts as a lightning rod for thinking on the dynamic and evolving relationship between markets, organisations and society, bringing together scholars from all around the world to generate new insights, frameworks and perspectives on this defining issue of our time. CMOS is a central node in new networks formed around these important issues - networks which cut across disciplinary lines - aiming to make a significant contribution to scientific, economic and/or social thinking. CMOS hosts senior scholars, convenes high powered conferences and actively involves potential users of research from the policy world.


CMOS is home to OTREG (Organisation Theory Research Group), an international group of organisation theorists which meets every two months (except July-September) to discuss the latest work that is still in the pipeline. Find out more about OTREG

Recent meetings

At the last OTREG meeting at Cambridge, on 17 May 2013, the following papers were presented:

  • Victoria Johnson & Walter W. Powell: "Social Poisedness and Organisational Emergence: From Civic Order to Professional Philanthropy in 19th-Century New York City" 
  • Shazhad Ansari & Juliane Reinecke: "Developing Producers or Certifying Development? How and Why Temporal Structures Matter for Organisations Serving Low-Income Communities" 
  • Paul Tracey: "Spreading the Word: Exploring the Microfoundations of Institutional Persuasion" 

The Next OTREG meeting will be on Friday 18 October 2013. Venue and papers to be announced soon.


Professor Royston Greenwood (1-3 May 2013)
Alberta School of Business

Professor Walter (Woody) Powell (17-18 May 2013)
Stanford Graduate School of Business


Director: Dr Kamal A. Munir
Co-Director: Professor Paul Tracey