Organizations in the Shadow of Communities
Boston University School of Management
Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science
June 10, 2011
Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 11-131
The concept of a community form is drawn upon in many sub-fields of organizational theory. Although there is not much convergence on a level of analysis, there is convergence on a mode of action that is increasingly relevant to a knowledge-based economy marked by porous and shifting organizational boundaries. We argue that communities play an under-appreciated role in organizational theory – critical not only to occupational identity, knowledge transfer, sense-making, social support, innovation, problem-solving and collective action but, enabled by information technology, increasingly providing socio-economic value – in areas once inhabited by organizations alone. Hence we posit that organizations may be in the shadow of communities. Rather than push for a common definition, we link communities to an organization’s evolution: its birth, growth and death. We show that communities represent both opportunities and threats to organizations and conclude with a research agenda that more fully accounts for the potential of community forms to be a creator (and a possible destroyer) of value for organizations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49working papers series
Date posted: June 28, 2011
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