white and brown concrete building under blue sky during daytime


The history of SCANCOR starts with one specific person: James G. March. March came from University of California, Irvine to Stanford in the early 1970’s. By then, he had already initiated an exchange with Johan P. Olsen from the University of Bergen and Søren Christensen from the Copenhagen Business School. Soon, their joint interest in organization theory was shared with Guje Sevon and from the Swedish School of Economics in Helsinki, and Nils Brunsson from the Stockholm School of Economics. These Scandinavian scholars came to California on an almost annual basis and the recurring exchanges became the first, informal version of SCANCOR, a network based at Stanford but with branches Scandinavia. This set up is still vivid and mirrored in how the SCANCOR Board has one representative from each Scandinavian country. 

Soon initiatives were taken to establish a structure that would allow for a continuing flow of visitors and a more efficient administration to serve them. In 1988 a charter for a formal consortium was launched and signed in Stockholm and on March 10, 1989 the Scandinavian Consortium for Organizational Research — SCANCOR — cut the ribbon on a physical home within Stanford’s School of Education.

Over the years, the network became more and more formalized. SCANCOR now has an annual PhD workshop with US faculty for students abroad, a two year postdoctoral program, a Monday seminar series with invited guests and conferences that bring together researchers from Europe and North America. 

The incoming scholars are usually from Scandinavia while the Director of SCANCOR has always been Stanford Faculty: after Jim March, Walter W. Powell served as Director from 1999-2010, strengthening SCANCOR’s position within the Stanford academic community. In January 2018, Francisco (Chiqui) Ramirez succeeded Mitchell Stevens and Sarah Soule following the conclusion of their appointments at the end of 2017. In September 2022, Patricia Bromley from the Graduate School of Education will take over as Director. 

SCANCOR has played a part in the production of countless books, special issues of journals, articles and dissertations. It continues to be a bridge between Nordic and North American styles, facilitating an ongoing co-evolution in organizational social science in different but increasingly interconnected parts of the world.  Now well into its third decade, the organization stands as an exemplar of productive transnational scholarly collaboration, and it remains an intellectually flexible place.  As Jim March said in 1989, SCANCOR is “a state of mind more than an institution, a mélange of spirits more than a clear vision.”

History timeline

  • 1968-69 – Johan P Olsen and Søren Christensen visits Jim March at UC Irvine
  • 1970 – March visits Olsen and Christensen in Scandinavia
  • 1971 – March moves to Stanford
  • 1970s – recurrent exchanges between California and Scandinavia
  • 1980’s – Nils Brunsson and Guje Sévon join the network
  • 1988 – a charter is launched and signed
  • 1989 – SCANCOR takes up residence at the Graduate School of Education
  • 1999 – Walter W Powell succeeds March as Director of SCANCOR
  • 2010 – Mitchell Stevens takes over as Director
  • 2015 – Sarah Soule joins as co-director
  • 2016 – SCANCOR at the Weatherhead Center Harvard is launched
  • 2017 – Fransisco (Chiqui) Ramirez starts serving as Director
  • 2022 – Patricia Bromley starts serving as Director
  • 2023 – Prashant Loyalka joins as co-director