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  • 1.
    Ahlström, Karin
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    How Meetings affect the accomplishment of Broad Responsibility in a municipal CompanyManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Municipal companies are important actors in the pursuit of the Agenda 2030 goals and are often formally obliged by their owners to work in this direction. This has however shown to be quite challenging, and managers lack knowledge about how to develop new ways of organizing to meet such responsibilities. The aim of this article is therefore to understand how the work of a top management team in meetings affects the accomplishment of broad responsibility. The analysis, which is underpinned by a communicative constitution of organizing (CCO) perspective, shows how the way specific communicative practices (agendas, minutes, timeslots, turn-taking, and stakeholder voicing) are enacted leads to the re-production of parts of the organization at the expense of the whole, the present at the expense of the future, and profit at the expense of the other dimensions of sustainability. This study contributes to the literature on public management by showing how communicative practices enacted in meetings make certain concerns present and others absent, thereby creating the conditions for the accomplishment of broad responsibility.

  • 2.
    Ahlström, Karin
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Managing broad responsibility together in a municipal company: Communication as prophylaxis2024Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Municipal companies are important actors in the pursuit of the goals of Agenda 2030 and are often formally obliged by their owners to work towards achieving these goals, but without jeopardizing ongoing production and the delivery of vital public services. This has, however, shown to be challenging, and managers are often unsure how to develop new ways of organizing to meet such complex challenges and take on broad responsibility. What has been recognized is the importance of collaboration, which is a beneficial and distinct organizational form of its own that creates value greater than what individual organizations can do separately. Such ways of working are, however, hardly straightforward endeavours, since they usually involve members with contrasting goals and approaches, are inclined to fragmentation, and can sometimes even add to the challenges they set out to resolve. The aim of this thesis is to understand the practical challenges associated with collaborative efforts to manage broad responsibility in a municipal company. In response to this aim, responsible managing is studied both empirically and through a research literature review. The purpose of the literature review is to better understand the challenges of managing broad responsibility and what is currently being done to achieve the goals of Agenda 2030 at the municipal level. To understand how responsible managing is accomplished in practice, the enactment of responsible manging is empirically studied in a municipal company over a total of four years. Particularly, two cases have been studied using a participatory research approach: first, the case of a top management team managing responsibly together and second, the case of responsible managing in interorganizational collaboration in a municipal company. For both cases, a theoretical lens is used, resting on a social constructionist and processual-relational ontology, supported by practice-based studies in the communicative stream. This means that attention is focused on communication (both talk and text) in an approach that views responsible managing as a communicative practice, a form of emergent, relational, and situated practice and the means by which responsible managing emerges, is sustained, and transformed. The overall results show how situated communicative practices are influential for preventing the limitation of broad responsibility, fragmentation of the share responsibility, and the deprioritization of obligations over time. Based on this, a metaphor of dental prophylaxis is proposed. By conceptualizing responsible managing as a situated communicative practice and showing how responsible managing may be enacted, this thesis contributes theoretically to the field of organization and management.

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  • 3.
    Ahlström, Karin
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Bruzzone, Silvia
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Farashah, Ali
    Municipalities working for Agenda 2030: Review and Agenda for future ResearchManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Considering the population density of urban areas, their levels of consumption and emissions, their influence on social equality and inclusion, and the resources and power allocated to urban actors, it is important to examine how municipalities organize work as they proceed to implement Agenda 2030 and to what effect. A systematic literature review is used to analyse 77 articles, published between 2017 and 2022, that examine the sustainability activities of municipal actors in Europe. Two themes are identified and explained: a) a paradigm shift in local government; b) the mobilization of socio-technical approaches (e.g., smart cities and regenerative land use). Also, the limitations of the literature and some areas for future research are discussed: research comparing practices across regions and countries; research analysing the interaction of different initiatives within a municipality; and research examining the role of municipal companies.

  • 4.
    Ahlström, Karin
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Crevani, Lucia
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Managing Responsibly Together: How an Obligation is Made to Matter in Top Management Team Work2023In: Journal of Change Management, ISSN 1469-7017, E-ISSN 1479-1811Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The aim of this article is to contribute to research on responsible management by developing knowledge on how managing responsibly together in a Top Management Team (TMT) may be accomplished, thus complementing research in the area that focuses on the work of individual managers. To this end, we mobilize the concept of obligation to characterize what emerges as what a TMT needs to respond to. Having followed the TMT for a municipal company working together in meetings over time, we propose that three accomplishments (making the obligation present, making the obligation enable action and accounting for the obligation) shape how an obligation is made to matter. This is no linear process, but rather it unfolds in a series of materializations of the obligation in text and talk, as the TMT goes about its work. The article thus provides a contribution to research on responsible management but also has practical consequences for developing how a TMT works in order to address the urgent demands for change related to sustainable development.MAD statementIn this article, we develop knowledge on how managing responsibly together may be accomplished in a Top Management Team (TMT). Besides adding to the responsible management literature, we also provide theoretical tools that may be mobilized in order to develop the work practices of TMTs that want to contribute to sustainable development.

  • 5.
    Ahlström, Karin
    et al.
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Lindell, Eva
    Mälardalen University, School of Business, Society and Engineering, Industrial Economics and Organisation.
    Stier, Jonas
    Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare.
    Negotiating shared Responsibility for sustainable urban Development: Pronouns and In-here-ness as rhetorical ResourcesManuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This article explores how issues of shared responsibility are negotiated in the realm of managing collaborative efforts between organizational actors for sustainable urban development abiding to the Agenda 2023 – with a particular focus on the rhetorical resources used in such negotiations. Through empirical material from recorded meetings in a one-year project at a municipal company, the article contributes to previous literature on collaborative ways of organizing and managing complex public challenges. With a focus on the discursive construction of shared responsibility, the concept of in-here-ness is introduced to denote accepted and assumed responsibility, which may shift through the use of pronouns: from a narrow ‘I’ or ‘we’ of stakeholders to a wider ‘we’ of collaborating parties. The article further contributes to the empirical field of sustainable development at the municipal level.

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