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Tilburg Temporary Organizations Conference

The Tilburg Temporary Organizations Conference (TTOC) is organized by the Department of Organization Studies at Tilburg University. The TTOC will be held from June 14 to June 15, 2018 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. The conference starts on the morning of June 14; international travelers are advised to arrive on June 13 (optional joint dinner available on June 13). Between 30 and 40 papers will be selected for presentation.

The attendance is free. Participants should make their own travel and accommodation arrangements. The organizing committee will be able to help the attendees with booking accommodation in the city of Tilburg.

Temporary organizations (TOs) are pervasive in many different settings and industries and address all kinds of business and societal issues, such as big construction or innovation projects or responses to natural and man-made disasters or international development projects. TOs are collaborative arrangements with a predefined (I) task and (II) termination point, (III) addressed by a team of different organizations or organizational members. However, increasing complexity and dynamics faced by TOs posits challenges and tensions to managers.

On the hand, increasing task complexity, for instance due to technologically more complex projects such as infrastructure or electronics, often times calls for larger project teams, involving more diverse stakeholders, and using longer time windows to accomplish tasks. On the other hand, increasing environmental dynamics might give reason to either shorten the TO lifecycle or to adjust the TO goals during its existence, to reorganize its team, and even to terminate the TO prematurely. Due to these opposing forces, TO practitioners are faced with management tensions related to adaptability and meticulousness, while scientists are faced with questions about the validity of their theories under these changing circumstances. Accordingly, there is an urgent need for debate between researchers and practitioners to exchange knowledge about how TOs deal with increasing task complexity and environmental dynamics.

The main aim of this conference is to facilitate and intensify dialogue between practitioners and the two research traditions on this topic that jointly can generate insights in ways in which temporary organizations (TOs) deal with task complexity and environmental dynamics. First, the engineering science perspective on project management mainly focused on technical aspects of project management within organizations, often based on linear thinking, time management, task completion and uncertainty reduction. Second, the social science perspective on TOs has drawn on main areas (e.g., Economics, Psychology and Sociology) in order to develop a more abstract, theoretical perspective on TOs, and particularly their key distinctive feature, the ‘temporariness’.

Both research traditions take different stands in ways TOs deal with complexity and environmental dynamics. Whereas the first research tradition for instance developed toolboxes to reduce complexity and make projects manageable, the second emphasized the limited manageability of TOs due to these environmental dynamics and complexity. Bringing together representatives of both research traditions and involving practitioners in the dialogue can facilitate a fruitful debate which both allows for advancing our theories and support practitioners with insights derived from research.

We seek contributions that analyze aspects of environmental dynamics and complexity in TOs from different theoretical perspectives, research approaches, type of tasks and in different empirical contexts. Next to tasks and contexts that have traditionally been covered in the literature on TOs we also seek contributions in the area of dealing with wicked problems and/or social entrepreneurship.

Potential contributions may include, but are not limited to, the following research areas:

  1. The adaptability of TOs / TOs as (parts of) adaptive systems;
  2. The role of time and sequencing in TOs;
  3. The relation between TOs and permanent organizations;
  4. The granularity of TOs / TOs as elements in embedded systems;
  5. New strategies for empirical research on TOs;
  6. Risk and uncertainty in TOs;
  7. The relationship between formal and informal aspects of TOs;
  8. Tensions, conflicts and paradoxes in TOs;
  9. Decision-making processes and biases;
  10. Challenges faced by TOs dealing with wicked problems.

Bakker, R. M. (2010). Taking stock of temporary organizational forms: A systematic review and research agenda. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(4), 466-486.

Bakker, R. M., DeFillippi, R. J., Schwab, A., & Sydow, J. (2016). Temporary organizing: Promises, processes, problems. Organization Studies, 37(12), 1703-1719.

Cattani, G., Ferriani. S., Frederiksen. L., Täube, F. (2011). Project-based organizing and strategic management: A long-term research agenda on temporary organizational forms. Advances in Strategic Management 28, 15–39.

Cicmil, S., Williams, T., Thomas, J., & Hodgson, D. (2006). Rethinking project management: researching the actuality of projects. International Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 675-686.

Floricel, S., Bonneau, C., Aubry, M., & Sergi, V. (2014). Extending project management research: Insights from social theories. International Journal of Project Management, 32(7), 1091-1107.

Floricel, S., Michela, J. L., & Piperca, S. (2016). Complexity, uncertainty-reduction strategies, and project performance. International Journal of Project Management, 34(7), 1360-1383.

Kenis, P., Janowicz, M., & Cambré, B. (Eds.). (2009). Temporary organizations: Prevalence, logic and effectiveness. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Levitt, R. E. (2012). Fundamentals of social and management science for engineering project organizations. Engineering Project Organization Journal, 2(1-2), 1-3.

Lundin, R. A., & Söderholm, A. (1995). A theory of the temporary organization. Scandinavian Journal of management, 11(4), 437-455.

Söderlund, J. (2004). Building theories of project management: past research, questions for the future. International journal of project management, 22(3), 183-191.

Key Dates
February 16, 2018 Abstract submission (approximately 500 words)
February 23, 2018 Notification of acceptance
May 18, 2018 Submission of full paper (maximum 7,000 words)
June 14-15, 2018 Conference


All submissions should be made via e-mail to using “Tilburg Temporary Organizations Conference” in the subject line.

Barros de Oliveira, N.R.
Name dr. N.R. Barros de Oliveira
TS Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Organization Studies
Position Assistant Professor
Room S 606
Phone +31 13 466 4397
Karaduman, C.
Name C. (Cana) Karaduman MSc
TS Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Organization Studies
Position PhD-student
Room S 614
Phone +31 13 466 4439
Mannak, R.S.
Name dr. R.S. (Remco) Mannak
TS Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Organization Studies
Position Assistant Professor
Room S 621
Phone +31 13 466 2545
Oerlemans, L.A.G.
Name prof. dr. L.A.G. Oerlemans
TS Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Organization Studies
Position Full Professor
Room S 615
Phone +31 13 466 3153
Raab, J.
Name dr. J. Raab
TS Social and Behavioral Sciences
Department of Organization Studies
Position Associate Professor
Room S 613
Phone +31 13 466 3651


Tilburg Temporary Organizations Conference


Location: Tilburg University

When: 14 June 2018 00:00

End date: 15 June 2018 00:00