Organizational Imaginaries

Edited by Katherine K. Chen and Victor Tan Chen

Update: Organizational Imaginaries received the 2022 Joyce Rothschild Book Prize. You can watch the video below or via this link.

For details about Victor’s other books, go to the Books page.

Our everyday lives are structured by the rhythms, values, and practices of various organizations, including schools, workplaces, and government agencies. These experiences shape common-sense understandings of how “best” to organize and connect with others. Today, for-profit managerial firms dominate society, even though their practices often curtail information-sharing and experimentation, engender exploitation, and exclude the interests of stakeholders, particularly workers and the general public.

A short video about our book from the 2022 Beyster Symposium, where it received the Joyce Rothschild Book Prize.

This Research in the Sociology of Organizations volume explores an expansive array of organizational imaginaries, or conceptions of organizational possibilities, with a focus on collectivist-democratic organizations that operate in capitalist markets but place more authority and ownership in the hands of stakeholders other than shareholders. These include worker and consumer cooperatives and other enterprises that, to varying degrees:

  • Emphasize social values over profit
  • Are owned not by shareholders but by workers, consumers, or other stakeholders
  • Employ democratic forms of managing their operations
  • Have social ties to the organization based on moral and emotional commitments

Organizational Imaginaries explores how these enterprises generate solidarity among members, network with other organizations and communities, contend with market pressures, and enhance their larger organizational ecosystems. By ensuring that organizations ultimately support and serve broader communities, collectivist-democratic organizing can move societies closer to hopeful “what if” and “if only” futures.

This volume is essential for researchers and students seeking innovative and egalitarian approaches to business and management.

Buy the Book | IndieBound | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Emerald Publishing (Publisher)

Book flyer (use the discount code RSO72 for 30% off)

Articles about the Book

VCU News (“Sociologist’s book earns award for contributions to advancing economic democracy“), July 11, 2022

Business Wire (“Rutgers Awards New Prizes for Economic Democracy“), June 27, 2022

Op-ed: Fortune magazine (“Cooperatives can make economies more resilient to crises like COVID-19“), May 19, 2021

In The Fray magazine, May 7, 2021

Markets, Power, and Culture blog, April 6, 2021

Table of Contents


Part I: Working: Enacting Collectivist-Democratic Practices Through Everyday Interactions

Part II: Networking: Connecting Communities through Collectivist-Democratic Practices

Part III: Reworking: Challenging and Transforming Capitalist Economies through Collectivist-Democratic Practices