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Nuno Gil

As an input into a wide range of productive processes, basic public infrastructure is a broad source of value creation. But with population growth, climate change and urbanisation, infrastructure gaps are growing fast in emergent economies, threatening the global order. Tackling this grand challenge requires assembling vast actor-networks with the capacity to navigate inefficient markets, ill-defined property rights, poor regulation and weak judiciary. Drawing on organisation design literature, the author calls for research on organising to build capital goods in institutionally underdeveloped contexts – grounding this call on a duality rooted in the two main concomitant efforts of our time to tackle this challenge: the inclusive, market-oriented forms of organising espoused by western agencies and the centralised, state-led forms of organising espoused by Chinese agencies. Stuck between the struggle of the former to act quickly and the uncertainty on the impact of the latter, this problem offers a topical context for management scholarship. The author lays out a research agenda around the search for ambidextrous forms of organising by manipulating organisation boundaries and the interplay between the formal and informal organisation. This call for research is illustrated with evidence of an innovative form of organising to tackle urban informality in Cairo, the world’s fastest-growing city. The innovation lies in supplementing contractual governance to acquire formal resources with collective-action governance to acquire informal resources.