Organizing Organizations I: Meta-Organizations and Their Role in Modern Society

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:30-12:20
RC17 Sociology of Organization (host committee)

Language: English

Meta-organizations—that is, organizations that have organizations as their members—are an important phenomenon in contemporary society. There are now hundreds of thousands of meta-organizations worldwide, including business associations, trade union confederations, sport associations, military alliances, and intergovernmental organizations. They may be national or international, and often play an important part in shaping modern society.

Meta-organizations differ fundamentally in many ways from organizations whose members are individuals. Unlike individual-based organizations, meta-organizations’ members are also organizations. Meta-organizations may need to compete with their member organizations for autonomy and often struggle to become strong actors in their own right.

Despite their societal significance, scholarly interest in meta-organizations has been limited. This session aims to facilitate a broader discussion in organizational sociology on meta-organizations, their characteristics, and their relevance. It will be open to theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Struggle for autonomy between meta-organizations and their members
  • The effects of membership upon member organizations
  • Power among and within meta-organizations
  • Differences between weak and strong meta-organizations
  • Typologies of different types of meta-organizations
  • Different levels of meta-organizing, from meta-organizations to meta-meta-organizations and so on, and their relevance
  • Development of meta-organizations over time
  • Differences between meta-organizations and (partially organized) networks and how networks become meta-organizations
  • The roles of individuals in meta-organizations as employees, representatives, and boundary spanners
  • The role of meta-organizations in shaping modern society and vice versa
Session Organizers:
Göran AHRNE, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (Score), Sweden, Nils BRUNSSON, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (Score), Sweden and Michael GROTHE-HAMMER, Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, Germany
Göran AHRNE, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (Score), Sweden
Oral Presentations
Meta-Organizations and Inter-Organizational Arrangements: A Partial Organization Framework
Heloise BERKOWITZ, CNRS (UMR5303), TSM-Research, France; Sanne BOR, Hanken School of Economics, Finland
Distributed Papers
When a Practice Becomes a Contract (and vice-versa): The Construction of Inter-Organizational Partnerships for the Co-Design of Welfare Services
Paolo ROSSI, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy; Monica COLOMBO, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy