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

Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 11-131

49 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2011 Last revised: 16 Jul 2013

See all articles by Siobhan O’Mahony

Siobhan O’Mahony

Boston University School of Management

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: June 10, 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

O’Mahony, Siobhan and Lakhani, Karim R., Organizations in the Shadow of Communities (June 10, 2011). 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; Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 11-131. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1873989 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1873989

Siobhan O’Mahony

Boston University School of Management ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

Karim R. Lakhani (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6741 (Phone)

Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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