Marie-Laure Djelic — Business & Society Research Seminar

October 12th, 2017 / 14:00 – 15:300 / Paris Campus (Room 2110)

For the 15th Business & Society Research Seminar, ESCP Europe & Sustbusy Research Center welcomes:

Marie-Laure Djelic

Science-Po Paris

Constructing an Organizational Architecture for the Transnational Diffusion of Ideologies — The Case of Atlas and Neoliberalism

The neoliberal wave deploying itself since the late 1970s has generated major policy transformations across the world—ideas that had long been marginal came to influence in significant ways public opinion and policy makers. Ideas, however, do not simply “float”; nor is their influence automatic. If we are to understand their performative power, we need to investigate how they are carried, appropriated and institutionalized. We argue that the deployment through time and space of a supporting organizational architecture is an important precondition of the performativity of ideas. Thus we explore, in this paper, the dynamics of construction of a transnational organizational architecture that furthered the broad diffusion, stabilization, and institutionalization, over the last thirty years, of neoliberal ideas and influence across the world. We focus, for that purpose, on a particular organization—Atlas—with a strategic bridge position in the transnational constellation of neoliberal influence building. Atlas was created in 1981 to foster the diffusion of an organizational blueprint for public opinion and policy influence building. That blueprint was the neoliberal think tank as we know it today. Through the systematic exploration of the public archives of Atlas, we trace the impact of its activities on the construction and increasing density, through time, of what we call with Hayek an organizational base of “secondhand dealers in ideas” (Hayek 1949). Our analysis is guided by four main themes that emerge from our data—geographical reach, modes of enlisting, mechanisms for diffusion, strategies of stabilization. As we point out in the conclusion, our findings have theoretical implications beyond the case of neoliberalism.

Coordinating Professors:

Aurélien Acquier (

Valentina Carbone (