Organizations in the Shadow of Communities
Published in: O'Mahony, Siobhan, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Organizations in the Shadow of Communities." In Communities and Organizations. Vol. 33, edited by Christopher Marquis, Michael Lounsbury, and Royston Greenwood, 3–36. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Emerald Group Publishing
49 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2011 Last revised: 16 Jul 2013
Date Written: June 10, 2011
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.
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