Temporary Organizations

Temporary Organizations

Prevalence, Logic and Effectiveness

Edited by Patrick Kenis, Martyna Janowicz-Panjaitan and Bart Cambré

This important and timely book provides a systematic treatment of temporary organizations – an increasingly prevalent organizational form in which organizations work together on a joint task – for example, a movie production, a rescue operation, development of a new product – for an ex ante limited period of time.

Chapter 4: Time Matters: The Impact of ‘Temporariness’ on the Functioning and Performance of Organizations

René M. Bakker and Martyna Janowicz-Panjaitan

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies


René M. Bakker and Martyna Janowicz-Panjaitan Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day’s work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your widest ambition. – Sir William Osler, to his students INTRODUCTION In increasing numbers, firms are setting up temporary organizations (TOs), to reach strategic and operational goals and to keep up with the fast pace of change in the technological and market environment (see Brady and Davies, 2004). Examples of these inter- or intra-organizational TOs may include sports event organizers, trial juries, cockpit crews, movie sets, construction projects and theatre groups among others (Bechky, 2006; Meyerson et al., 1996; Miles, 1964). TOs1 have been variously defined as ‘a set of diversely skilled people working together on a complex task over a limited time period’ (Goodman and Goodman, 1976, p. 494), as systems ‘limited in duration and membership, in which people come together, interact, create something, and then disband’ (Morley and Silver, 1977, p. 59) and as ‘structures of limited duration that operate within and between permanent organizations’ (Keith, 1978, p. 195). TOs are often projected as a new and promising form for economic action (Grabher, 2002; Sydow et al., 2004) and as ideal loci of learning and innovation (Brady and Davies, 2004; Ibert, 2004). Moreover, TOs have become commonplace in many and diverse industries (Chapter 2, this volume) and are a focus of a nascent field of scientific study. In order for TOs to be considered a truly unique organizational form warranting systematic scientific inquiry,...

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