Everything excites everybody – making sense of events in the social media age

Valedictory Lecture of Professor Slawomir Magala

What is going on when emotions boil – globally and immediately? An exploration of the synergies and clashes which heat cultures up and melt them down takes place next week at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). Slawomir (Slawek) Magala, professor of cross-cultural management will give his valedictory lecture on Friday, 11 December at 16:00 in the auditorium of Erasmus University Rotterdam. It might be insightful, as Prof. Magala will give the audience the benefit of his long experience in his last formal lecture entitled ‘Changing Cultural Climates: East, West and Sustainable Best’. The valedictory lecture will be preceded by an international seminar on organisational culture and cross-cultural management.

Professor Magala argues that the instant availability of social media means ‘everything excites everybody’. Events like the tragic deaths of refugee children on Greek beaches, the landing of a man-made space probe on a hurtling comet, the awarding of the Nobel Prize for medicine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine – as well as the minutiae of personal news and show business trivia all result in a snowstorm of social media activity. We are all hyper-connected and subjected to floods of information, images, provocations, persuasions and manipulations. How can we make sense of this relentless stream of information about millions of events?

We change the present

In his lecture, Magala will claim that we only can make sense of events if we understand that culture is man-made and has always been designed to facilitate critical self-reflection, which helps us to get a firmer grip on the information stream that we are all subject too. Culture can help us create and implement actionable knowledge, and allow us to bridge, couple, bond, integrate, and co-ordinate increasingly complex societies and organisations. Magala claims that culture is negotiated and renegotiated all the time. “We reinvent our past, redesign our future and while doing so change the present. Moreover, we do it all the time, everywhere, with everyone,” he says.

About Slawek Magala

Slawek Magala is a professor of cross-cultural management at the Department of Organisation and Personnel Management, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). Professor Magala holds the Chair for Cross Cultural Management at RSM. He is the former chair of the Department of Organization and Human Resource Management Studies (2005-2012) and is the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Organizational Change Management. His research focusses on cross cultural competence and communication and on the processes of sense-making in professional bureaucracies.

He is the author of Cross Cultural Competence (Routledge, 2005) and The Management of Meaning in Organizations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). His articles appear regularly in leading refereed journals such as the European Journal of Cross-cultural Competence and Management, Organization Studies, the European Journal of International Management, Public Policy, Critical Perspectives on International Business and Human Resources Development International.

Professor Magala is the associate editor of The Qualitative Sociology Review and one of the founding members of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Competence in Management. During his time at RSM, he developed research and educational projects on cultural identity, brokering knowledge and the cultural sustainability of institutions, organisations and networks.

His own research networks include the Standing Conference on Management and Organization Inquiry (sc’MOI), the International Network of Business and Management journal editors (INBAM), and a network of researchers linked to the International Conferences on Rhetoric and Narratives in Management Research. An international congress he organised in 1988 on the 'Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School and Sciences of Management' led to the creation of the British Critical Management Studies movement, one of the largest research communities within the Academy of Management.

Professor Magala was educated in Poland, Germany and the USA. He has taught and conducted research in China, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Namibia.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is a top-tier European business school and ranked among the top three for research. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who carry their innovative mindset into a sustainable future thanks to a first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes. RSM also has offices in Taipei, Taiwan and in Chengdu, China.

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