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 7: Structure in Temporary Organizations

Jörg Raab, Joseph Soeters, Paul C. van Fenema and Erik J. de Waar

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies


Jörg Raab, Joseph Soeters, Paul C. van Fenema and Erik J. de Waard INTRODUCTION Organizational structures have been one of the main topics in research on organizations throughout the 20th century, for example in bureaucratic theory (Weber, 1972) or contingency theory (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967) and recently in research on intraorganizational networks (Raider and Krackhardt 2002). Organizational structures are shaped by and constituted of stabilized patterns of social interaction that are common in most organizations. However, in temporary organizations, because of their limited duration, social interaction may not get stabilized. Therefore temporary organizations (TOs) are often assumed to be organized differently from non-temporary organizations. The main reason for these differences lies in the organizational members’ awareness of the TOs’ impending termination, which changes time horizons, utility calculations and perceptions of relationships, leading to different social processes and interactions. Thus it is their limited duration that makes TOs different. They ‘develop an endogenous logic of functioning unrelated to the past or future of the collaborating actors’ (Chapter 5, p. 143). The existing theory on organizational structures emphasizes rules and regulations, task specialization, centralization and decentralization, hierarchies, power dependencies and the grouping of units (Mintzberg, 1979, 1983). This theory was developed to understand features of organizations, but without making an explicit distinction between temporary and nontemporary organizations. Literature on TOs (Lundin and Söderholm, 1995; Chapter 5, this volume), however, suggests that key organizational features such as structure may be different for TOs compared to nontemporary organizations. In this chapter, we...

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