Organisational Survival from Communism to Post-Communism: Czech Youth and Environmental Organisations, 1945 - 2017

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Inna BELL, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
Sociology, with its nuanced contextual views on social change, is ideally suited to analyse how organisations survive dramatic rearrangements of the social and political environment. Organisation studies in the disciplines of business and management often limit their focus to quantitative accounts of organisational mortality and economic factors, even within the context of crises in established democracies. To broaden the use of sociology for the study of organisational survival, I suggest the following: (a) to push the boundaries of studies of organisational mortality by analysing organisations in extreme social and political conditions, such as authoritarianism and post-communist transformation, and (b) to employ in-depth qualitative methods. This paper employs these approaches to theorise on, and empirically address, the complex process of organisational survival during regime change by synthesising new institutionalism, rarely applied by organisational research in these contexts, with sociological theories of social and political transformation. Specifically, using archival research and in-depth interviews with leaders and participants, I explain how four Czech youth and environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) manage the shift from the communist regime (1945-1989) to an aspiring liberal democracy (1989-2017). I find that NGO survival in the post-1989 Czech Republic reflects the challenges and processes of post-communist transformation, including the issues of lustration, collective memory, ‘voluntarism,’ and trust in social and political institutions. I also find that instability and conflict between views of the communist past and prospects for the future are key factors in whether and how organisations survive.