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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


4. Creating and sustaining meta-organizations In this chapter, we discuss the issues behind the creation and maintenance of meta-organizations, referring to the discussion in Chapter 3 about their environments and their members. We first explain the inception of meta-organizations using the concept of the environment. Here, we see meta-organizations as an attempt on the part of organizations to eliminate part of their environment. Once a meta-organization has been proposed or established, it must recruit and retain members; it is dependent on organizations wanting to become members. In the second section of this chapter, we explain the forming and sustaining of meta-organizations by investigating the members, their interests and choices. In the third section of the chapter, we examine membership from the point of view of the meta-organization; we discuss the metaorganization’s problem of retaining its members – a problem that leads to the meta-organization’s strong dependence on its members. ELIMINATING ENVIRONMENT In the last chapter, we noted that an important part of an organization’s environment consists of other organizations, whether or not it interacts with these other organizations. The environment is often perceived as being more difficult to influence and forecast than one’s own organization. Thus, an organization often has reason to strive for greater control and predictability in its environment. Organizations can, for example, attempt to reduce the 62 Creating and sustaining meta-organizations 63 number of organizations they depend upon, or try to reduce their power. A company may attempt, for instance, to profile its products in the hope that...

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