A catalyst is a mechanism usually studied in chemistry. It is a substance that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process. In social science, the term catalyst is used to refer to something that precipitates a process or event without being effected by its consequences. It is a social mechanism able to trigger changes and at the same time able to homogenise factors, languages and aims of a community that is to share a culture.
Local networks were cultural catalysts: people and institutions were held together by their common history, language, traditions and educational heritage. This shared identity allowed firms and economic players to create and maintain effective relationships because they were embedded in the same context. Local relationships allowed firms to evolve and face environmental turbulence. They have been for firms a source of material resources as well as of hidden ideas, innovation and reputation.
Now local contexts are less significant. Businesses have no borders and firms increase their competiveness through the relationships they forge around the globe. In a globalised world characterised by strong competition and a high level of technological transilience, change and innovation are primary sources of competitive advantage. To be innovative, firms need to build profitable relationships in order to obtain necessary knowledge. While relationships are still the cornerstone of successful business, they are no longer local but global. To succeed globally, firms need to adapt to different cultural contexts and promote hybridisation. They need mechanisms able of stimulate change while preserving their own identities.
Theoretical and empirical explorations are needed to understand how firms’ cultural catalysts can be created, how they work, and how they can help manage adaptation and cultural hybridisation.
Examples of questions that could be addressed include but are not limited to:
- What is the meaning of cultural catalysts, and to what extent are they important for firms and organisations?
- Do countries continue to be cultural catalysts?
- How is globalisation changing the role of countries and the meaning of local identities?
- How are political dynamics changing the meaning of identities?
- If countries are loosing their role as cultural catalysts, at what level is hybridisation important and which effects will it produce?
- How do cultural catalysts affect firms' competitiveness?
- At what level of analysis do cultural catalysts play their role?
- Are transnational firms able to build their own cultural catalysts? Should they be cultural catalysts themselves, and how could they succeed in this sense?
Submission deadline: 31 January, 2013