A Letter from the Director

October 15, 2020

Throughout 2020, the SCANCOR community has both persisted and innovated. From the spring quarter to the present we have maintained the weekly seminars albeit via Zoom. While we look forward to the return of in-person meetings, the silver lining has been an expanded audience that includes long time SCANCORIANS as well as new friends of SCANCOR. We have welcomed and enjoyed the presentations and commentaries of colleagues from our Scandinavian core countries as well as from Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom, and the USA.

These seminars have generated truly lively exchanges, extending frontiers of organizational theory applied to a range of policy domains and substantive issues.  I cannot do full justice to this range. Suffice it to say that we started the spring quarter by reading and discussing the role of organizations in fostering competition and ended it with reflecting on how an ascetic movement (Yoga) was reframed and repurposed to emerge as a health and lifestyle global market. And in between we considered various forms of academic misconduct facilitated by a focus on metrics in higher education. We are grateful to these and to the other presenters whose ideas served as the foundations of our scholarly exchanges.

I am also much indebted to SCANCOR Board members who have pitched in with their own research at the fore of these seminars: Karl Wennberg in the spring and Frank Dobbin in the fall. I am especially pleased to announce that the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in the United Science has published “Explaining the homogeneous diffusion of Covid-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions across heterogeneous countries” with Karl as one of the co- authors.  The seminars as incubators of research that eventually get published is very much in the spirit of both our mandate and community.

We have persisted and innovated through distinctive book launches.  These have included the immediately much cited co-edited book on The Non-Profit Sector by Woody Powell and Tricia Bromley and freshly minted work by  SCANCOR Post-Doctoral Fellow Ingrid Gustafsson (How Standards Rule the World): The Construction of a Global Control Regime), and Angele Christin (Metrics at Work: Journalism and the Contested Meaning of Algorithms). SCANCOR is blessed with both established stars as well as the stars of the future!


None of the above should obscure the fact that this has been a tough year. We had to defer Visiting Scholar appointments for the spring and the autumn quarters. The winter of 2021 also will likely lead to deferrals. All who have been invited will have their invitations honored. Board meetings have also moved to virtual reality mode, but these too have continued in May and again in October. All of us look forward to the re-birth of our in-person meetings.

In the midst of our turbulent times and in line with health guidelines we had this small celebration, confident that SCANCOR will not merely endure; it will prevail.


Francisco Ramirez

Director, SCANCOR/Stanford