From Uncertainties to Affordances: Coordinating an Interorganizational Network in Fast-Response Settings

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:50
Oral Presentation
Joerg SYDOW, Freie Universitaet Berlin, Germany
Olivier BERTHOD, Jacobs University Bremen, Germany
Gordon MUELLER-SEITZ, Technische Universitaet Kaiserslautern, Germany
This paper explores the challenge of coordinating multiple organizational actors for effective, error-free inter­organizational operations in fast-response settings. We present observations from a two-year fieldwork on coordinating as practiced by the orchestrator of an inter­organizational network dedicated to emergency management in a large German city. We induce three sets of coordinating practices – reducing distance, staging coordination, and aligning to collective performance – that explain how the network orchestrator coordinates contributions from multiple organizational actors in the face of uncertainty. Our observations further show how artifacts and physical surroundings afford the situated enactments of these practices despite uncertainty. Specifically, these affordances prompt options for action to the network orchestrator and its partners along three main dimensions: time, space, and responsibilities. Successful instances of coordination produce an inclination to coordinate among participants, which explains the steady reproduction of the by-and-large informal structures in this network.