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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.
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Chapter 5: Similarity, dissimilarity, and identity formation

Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson


The high degree of differentiation among organizations requires that each meta-organization take a stance on the type of organizations that will constitute its members. As mentioned in the last chapter, membership is normally based on the members being similar in some respect. They are all a certain type of state, a firm in a certain industry, a certain type of association. If the aim is to strengthen a sense of shared identity or status, it is necessary for the members to be perceived as similar. Even when the purpose is collaboration, meta-organizations usually aim at collaboration among equals. In this chapter we discuss identity formation in meta-organizations in more detail and we will highlight both how meta-organizations deal with similarities and dissimilarities among their members.

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