Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson

A growing number of organizations are meta-organizations; rather than individuals they have other organizations as their members. This comprehensive book explains, in-depth, the unique way in which meta-organizations function, how they differ from organizations with individual membership, and how they are crucial agents in the process of globalization.

Chapter 8: Meta-organizations and Individual-based Organizations

Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies


. However, it is not uncommon that such a state represents a phase of long evolution from having been an out-and-out meta-organization to becoming more of an individual-based organization. The USA of today has many more elements of an individual-based organization than did the union that was created in 1781. An initial, critical step along the way occurred as far back as 1787–89 with the transition from a “confederation” to a “federation”. Among other things, a house of representatives representing the individuals was 140 Meta-organizations introduced alongside the senate, which represented the member states. Another important step was taken in 1861–62, when it turned out that the members of the union were given the decision power to leave the union (a course of events that was originally called a war between the states, but that now, in the language of the victors, is characteristically called the American “Civil War”). In Germany, the trend has been similar, from a loose association of states in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation to clear, individual-based organizations such as those that evolved between 1933 and 1945 and in East Germany during the German Democratic Republic (DDR) epoch (Pollack 1990). The creation and later expansion of the German Federal Republic (BRD) entailed a certain regression in the direction of (but far from all the way to becoming) a meta-organization, a trend that has also characterized Spain to a certain degree during recent decades. A unitary state like Sweden, which is currently seen...

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