Stockholm university

Staffan Furusten

About me

Professor in Management, Organisation and Society

Staffan Furusten's research revolves around the construction of expertise and experts in the field of management, and how knowledge about management is created and spread. Other interests include experts as market agents and regulation and professionalisation of new forms of expertise.

Furusten is currently leading the project "Management in the expert society". He also works at the Department of Management and Organisation at the Stockholm School of Economics.


Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Institutional Theory and Crganizational Change

    2023. Staffan Furusten.


    Fully revised and refined, this new edition of Institutional Theory and Organizational Change considers the developments in the fireld of isntitutional organization theory over the past decade. With each chapter beifn significantly updated, the book explains what the instituional organization approach means by bringing special attention to how the insitutional encironment is made up and how organizations are governed by it.

    Throughout the book. Staffan Furusten also brings attention to core concepts and arguments within institutional theory and resents them in a easily tangible model for understanding insitutional pressure on organizations. New analysis featured in the book includes organizing beyond managment and markets, organizational change through re-contextualization and institutional pressure through institutional elements. The examples presented in the book can be used as a navigation tool for additional learning about what the insitutional environment consists of and what organizationa can do to handle insitutional demands.

    The second edition of thei book is a lucid introduction to contemporary institutional organizational analysis and will be a key resource for undergradueate and postgraduate studies in critical management studies, organizational studies, as well as managers and policy makers.

    Read more about Institutional Theory and Crganizational Change
  • Enabling Sustainable Transformation: Hybrid Organizations in Early Phases of Path Generation

    2020. Susanna Alexius, Staffan Furusten. Journal of Business Ethics 165 (3), 547-563


    The rapidly growing research on hybrid organizations in recent years suggests that these organizations may have particular abilities to facilitate institutional change. This article contributes to our understanding of change and, in particular, sustainable transformation in society by highlighting the importance of organizational forms. Looking more closely at the role of hybrid organizations in processes of path generation, we analyze the conditions under which hybrid organizations may enable path generation. A retrospective (1988–2017) exploratory case study of the Swedish hybrid organization The Natural Step confirms how hybrids can take part in- and may facilitate the early phases of path generation: assimilation and coalescence. The conclusion drawn is that hybrids have multivocal abilities that enable them to earn trust and authority to open up “neutral” spaces for orientation and connection between actors in separated sub-paths, and that this in turn may ease tensions and trigger dialogue and exchange, also between former opponents. Yet, as also seen in the case, this enabling position of the hybrid may be both fragile and temporary.

    Read more about Enabling Sustainable Transformation
  • Exploring Constitutional Hybridity

    2019. Susanna Alexius, Staffan Furusten. Managing Hybrid Organizations, 1-25


    Hybrid organizations are topical in contemporary society, and literature in this area is growing. One neglected dimension is, however, empirically based theorizations of management and governance in hybrid organizations. Moreover, the literature tends to be based on observations of “new” forms of hybrid organizations, often referred to as social enterprises. We argue that if we want to learn about what managing hybrid organizations means, it is important to compare different types of hybrids and also to compare hybrids with as long history with those established relatively recently. Based on earlier literature, hybrid organizations are discussed as placed in contexts of institutional pluralism, at the cross-roads between institutional orders and institutional logics. Special focus is placed on exploration and comparison of what is defined here as constitutional hybrid organizations, thus hybrid organizations founded with the explicit purpose of fulfilling their mission by integrating either different institutional orders such as the market, the public sector and civil society or structural traits from the logics of different ideal-typical organizations such as the business corporation, the public agency and the association. We argue that multivocality is a concept that can explain why some hybrid organizations manage to remain hybrids over time while others face de-hybridization. A common analytical frame for the volume is developed, where six dimensions of hybridity are defined (institutional order, logics of organizational forms, ownership structures, purpose, main stakeholders and main sources of funding). The aim of this chapter is to introduce why it is timely to theorize on management and governance in hybrid organizations, to develop the theoretical frame for the book, and to introduce the explorative multidisciplinary approach behind the book and the selection of cases. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of the chapters to come.

    Read more about Exploring Constitutional Hybridity
  • Governance Structures in Customer-owned Hybryd Organizations: Interpreting Democracy in Mutual Insurance Companies

    2019. Tiziana Sardiello, Alexius Susanna, Staffan Furusten. Managing Hybrid Organizations


    This chapter focuses on governance challenges in mutually owned insurance companies. We analyze the variation in how hybrids organize themselves and discuss why mechanism for institutionalization is not always in place. A comparative approach was chosen to study how democracy is expressed and the ownership governance system is organized in two Swedish insurance companies with a long history, where Folksam was always a mutual and Skandia only recently became a mutual. Departing from Stinchcombe's imprinting theory, the findings suggest that institutional conditions at the time of their establishment as mutuals may have imprinted governance practices in these mutuals that persist beyond the founding phase.

    Read more about Governance Structures in Customer-owned Hybryd Organizations
  • Hybrid Challenges in Times of Changing Institutional Conditions: The Rise and Fall of The Natural Step as a Multivocal Bridge Builder

    2019. Susanna Alexius, Staffan Furusten. Managing Hybrid Organizations, 267-285


    This chapter reports on a life story of a hybrid organization, The Natural Step (TNS), that was founded in order to foster sustainability in society as a necessary philosophy for saving the planet. The organization was established as a hybrid that blended the logics of science, activism and consulting. Staying in this position was, however, not without challenge. The chapter contributes to discussions on management in hybrid organizations by highlighting when and why hybrids face particular challenges and how managers may struggle to deal with them. Over time, TNS gradually became de-hybridized into a management consultancy. The chapter concludes with a section on dilemmas faced by hybrid managers in cultivating and maintaining a hybrid identity over longer periods of time.

    Read more about Hybrid Challenges in Times of Changing Institutional Conditions
  • Managing Hybrid Organizations

    2019. Staffan Furusten, Susanna Alexius. Managing Hybrid Organizations, 333-360


    In this final chapter, we summarize and develop core findings that are illustrated with examples from the empirical case studies of the volume. Three common dilemmas in managing hybrid organization are identified: (1) financing a social mission and the risk of mission drift, (2) overlap in the roles of key stakeholders and the risk of empty governance structures and (3) modernizing a hybrid while cherishing the constitutional hybrid legacy. We argue that organizations that manage to remain hybrids in times of changed institutional conditions have established multivocality, a state where different categories of stakeholders are involved in shared, although sometimes parallel, conversations. The chapter concludes that a state of multivocal conversations can be strengthened by managerial and governance skills in improvisations and versatility.

    Read more about Managing Hybrid Organizations
  • Managing Hybrid Organizations: Governance, Professionalism and Regulation

    2019. .

    Book (ed)

    A much-needed addition to literature, this timely edited collection aims to provide clarity and understanding on how modern organizations work. The authors explore the characteristics of hybrid organizations in contemporary society, taking into account the complex societal challenges that face businesses today. Arguing that hybrid organizations are in fact not a new phenomenon, this thought-provoking collection goes beyond existing research and re-evaluates our traditional understanding of this concept. Scholars of organization, management and innovation will find this book an insightful read, as it sheds light on the fundamental aspects that shape today’s hybrid organizations. 

    Read more about Managing Hybrid Organizations
  • New International Rules for Corporate Governance and the Roles of Management and Boards of Directors

    2019. Alexander R. Besher, Staffan Furusten. Managing hybrid organizations, 321-332


    The aim of this chapter is to examine how different insurance companies have adopted and interpreted Sweden’s transposition of European Union (EU) directive Solvency II, launched in 2016, with regard to the directive’s corporate governance rules in their own organizations. Solvency II is aimed at protecting the policyholders, that is, insurance consumers as well as to stabilize the insurance market. The chapter concerns Solvency II’s section on corporate governance, that is, Articles 40–50 with special focus on Article 40. This Article sets out that each member state of the EU shall ensure that the administrative, management, or supervisory body of the insurance company (mutuals included) has the ultimate responsibility for the compliance with the laws, regulations, and administrative provisions adopted pursuant to the directive. However, Solvency II does not dictate how it should be transposed. Rather, each member state translates Article 40 in accordance to the state’s current corporate governance system. This means that there are contravening conceptions within the insurance industry on how the Article should be transposed and what consequences it will bring to the roles of management and boards and division of workload between these roles in mutual enterprises.

    Read more about New International Rules for Corporate Governance and the Roles of Management and Boards of Directors
  • Topical but not new: What can we learn from older forms for sharing economy?

    2019. Staffan Furusten, Susanna Alexius.


    The contemporary discourse about the sharing economy is both hyped and full of hope for a more sustainable future, but what is it that actually is shared? How much sharing is actually taking place, and in what dimensions and how can systems for sharing be governed? These questions are discussed in this paper and we compare the contemporary sharing economy discourse with old and since long established organized systems for sharing, here exemplified by constitutional hybrid organizations, thus organizations established with a purpose of mutual sharing in dimensions such as responsibility, power, surplus and risk. It is discussed that the contemporary sharing economy discourse mainly focus on collaborative consumption while constitutional hybridity is a more genuine form of organized mutuality. It is concluded that in both systems for sharing there seem to be empty governance structures. In the sharing economy it is mainly a market logic that dominates, where others than the consumers own what is shared. In constitutional hybridity the consumers are also owners, but it seems as they are either not aware of their ownership responsibilities and formal governance duties, or they are not really interested in taking such responsibilities. So, although there are existing and technically functioning systems for governance of systems for sharing, the practice of governance follows other logics, which calls for more research on governance in systems for sharing.

    Read more about Topical but not new
  • As flies around goodies: The rise of experts and services in the emerging field of CSR and sustainability

    2017. Susanna Alexius, Staffan Furusten, Andreas Werr. The Organization of the Expert Society, 72-87

    Read more about As flies around goodies
  • Dåliga kunder gör bra affärer!: Ett dilemma i offentlig upphandling

    2015. Staffan Furusten.


    LOU bygger på idén att inköp kan och bör göras på samma sätt på alla marknader. Men det finns många slags marknader och ofta är det inte ändamålsenligt att handla enligt LOU. Genom att vara ”dåliga kunder” och inte helt följa reglerna i LOU, kan offentliga organisationer göra bättre inköp. Är sådana regelbrott demokratiskt försvarbara? Författaren diskuterar offentliga organisationers inköpsverksamhet med utgångspunkt i en studie av hur upphandlingar av tjänster från managementkonsulter går till. Sådana tjänster är komplexa och ställer offentliga upphandlare inför svåra avvägningar.Författaren diskuterar offentliga organisationers inköpsverksamhet med utgångspunkt i en studie av hur upphandlingar av tjänster från managementkonsulter går till. Sådana tjänster är komplexa och ställer offentliga upphandlare inför svåra avvägningar.

    Read more about Dåliga kunder gör bra affärer!
  • Commercialized professionalism on the field of management consulting

    2013. Staffan Furusten. Journal of Organizational Change Management 26 (2), 265-285


    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore and construct a model for the mechanisms for authorization of actors in contemporary society performing in the role of the expert.

    Design/methodology/approach – The study used qualitative analyses of about 70 interviews with management consultants in small/middle-sized nationally based (in Sweden) consultancies, and with buyers in public organizations of their services. The data are, however, expected to represent more general tendencies of the mechanisms for authorization of experts such as management consultants. The interviews were seen as narratives from the field and interpreted qualitatively in order to search for patterns and categories.

    Findings – Systems for professionalism in practice among experts such as management consultants do not follow the routes suggested by traditional theories of professions. It is another system for professionalism where success in commercialisation means authorization in the role of the expert on the market. The mechanism for authorization is trust and the way to construct this is that the single expert and the organizations he or she represents emphasize versatility, availability, relevance and differentiation in their practice as experts.

    Research limitations/implications – There is a growth in numbers, competence areas and importance of these forms of expert work in contemporary society. Understanding this is necessary and this study offers a model that explains this.

    Practical implications – Markets for vague forms of experts, such as management consultants, are emerging. These are challenges faced by many individuals and organizations today.

    Social implications – More individuals work under consulting conditions, more organizations tend to hire more external experts of various kinds on temporary bases instead of employing them, and the number of expert organizations is emerging and their size is increasing.

    Originality/value – Little attention has been devoted to explanations of how authorization in practice is constructed and achieved among the new experts. This study offers a model for how this can be understood.

    Read more about Commercialized professionalism on the field of management consulting
  • Sustainable banking?: The Discursive Repertoire in Sustainability reports of banks in Sweden

    2013. Susanna Alexius, Staffan Furusten, Leina Löwenberg.

    Read more about Sustainable banking?
  • Expertsamhällets organisering: okunskapens triumf?

    2012. Staffan Furusten, Andreas Werr.


    Vi står mitt i framväxten av ett nytt expertsamhälle. Ett samhälle där organisationer blir allt mer beroende av externa experter för utvärdering, certifiering, rådgivning, kommunikation, rekrytering, investering, marknadsföring, inköp, utbildning, hållbar utveckling m.m. De nya experterna har dock otydliga kunskapsbaser, utbildning, erfarenheter och etiska riktlinjer. Det saknas även tydliga regler för auktorisation och strukturer för systematisk granskning.

    Hur kan vi som köpare, medarbetare, chefer och medborgare lita på de nya experterna? I boken diskuteras hur expertis organiseras på samhällsnivå och på marknader, hur den leds i organisationer och hur individer bygger trovärdighet som experter. Två olika principer för att säkerställa expertis identifieras: (1) utvecklandet av generella och mätbara utvärderingssystem där endast de som uppfyller formella krav accepteras i expertrollen samt (2) utvecklandet av informella lokala system som bygger på förtroende. En tendens är att det informella och svårmätbara hamnar i skymundan till förmån för det synliga och mätbara. Vi diskuterar vilka konsekvenser detta får för expertkunskapen. Riskerar vi att gå miste om den vardagliga och erfarenhetsbaserade kunskapen, och därmed främja ”okunskap” i vår jakt på tydlig och objektiv expertis?

    Med denna bok vill vi bidra till debatten om hur experter och expertis kan ledas och organiseras. Boken är intressant för medarbetare och ledare i kunskapsintensiva organisationer, samt för forskare, lärare och studenter på universitet och högskola.

    Read more about Expertsamhällets organisering
  • Som flugor kring godsakerna: vad gör konsulter med CSR och hållbarhetsidén?

    2012. Susanna Alexius, Staffan Furusten, Andreas Werr. Expertsamhällets organisering, 107-128

    Read more about Som flugor kring godsakerna
  • Organizing democracy: the construction of agency in practice

    2010. .

    Book (ed)

    This book adds an organizational perspective to the analysis of governance and democracy. It argues that a number of organizatiobal factors challange the notion of agency assumed by a governance model. The book criticizes the governance model for resting on the rational myth and the assumtion that democratic ideals can be translated to specific democratic values, which in turn can be adhered to by democratic agents. By adding an organizational perspective to th eanalysis of governance and democracy, th ebook proves that theories about organizing and the construction of agency can be used to explain how and why democratic values are attended to in governance structures.

    Read more about Organizing democracy
  • Management consultants as improvising agents of stability

    2009. Staffan Furusten. Scandinavian Journal of Management 25 (3), 264-274


    Relatively few studies have paid theoretical as well as empirical attention to what use organizations have of management consultants and their services. By studying how buyers and sellers of management consulting services describe what management consulting is and represents, this study questions common understandings in the literature, i.e., that management consultants act as agents of change or as standardizers of organizational practice around the world. It is argued that consultants can be understood as playing the role of improvisers because there is considerable uncertainty among both buyers and sellers as to what use organizations really have of them. Playing a recognizable, yet indefinite role based on an institutionalized foundation, in both discourse and practice, of what actors such as consultants are supposed to do in certain situations, helps client organizations to reduce the uncertainty experienced. The conclusion is that management consultants can therefore be understood as agents of stability rather than agents of change.

    Read more about Management consultants as improvising agents of stability
  • Den institutionella omvärlden

    2007. Staffan Furusten.


    Ledare styr inte själva fullt ut över inriktningen på och tidpunkten för sina beslut, vare sig de är medvetna om det eller inte. Deras handlingsramar begränsas av institutionella betingelser i deras omvärld - vad som är tekniskt, ekonomiskt, socialt och kulturellt möjligt i olika sammanhang. Det betyder att organisationer och dras ledare inte kan isoleras från vad som på går runt omkring dem. Med en bättre förståelse för deras omvärld - och hur detta påverkar hur de tänker, vad de gör och varför de gör det - får beslutsfattare också bättre möjligheter att fatta mer övervägda beslut. Avsikten med den här boken är att förklara vad den institutionella omvärlden består av och på vilka sätt enskilda organisationer påverkas.

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  • New Professionalism: conditions for expertise in management consulting and temporary administrative staffing

    2005. Staffan Furusten, Christina Garsten. Dealing with Confidence, 19-34

    Read more about New Professionalism
  • Consulting in Legoland: the jazz of small-scale management consultation in the improvisation on standards

    2001. Staffan Furusten.


    Large global management consultancies of US or Semi-US origin are often seen as important carriers of uniformity in management knowledge across the globe. This is an important characteristic of the recent development of the industry on a macro level, but one may question whether it is representative to let these firms be “spokespersons” for the field as a whole. This paper argues that the standards these actors travel in may constitute a standardised Legoland for consulting in the world, but that this Legoland is far from the reality of small and medium-sized locally based consulting firms. It is argued that they live in a world of standards for management and consultation, where the most important strategy for survival is to improvise.

    Read more about Consulting in Legoland
  • Temporary Ties: The Construction of Expertise and Authority in Temporary Consulting Services

    2001. Staffan Furusten. Time & Management

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  • Temporary Ties: The Construction of Expertise and Authority in Temporary Consulting Services

    2000. Staffan Furusten, Christina Garsten.

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Show all publications by Staffan Furusten at Stockholm University