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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 7: The dynamics of meta-organizations

Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson


The issue of change is central to organization theory. Organizations are expected to be able to change in order to adjust to a changing environment. But the conditions for change are different in meta-organizations than in individual-based organizations. Many of the characteristics particular to meta-organizations that we have discussed in previous chapters seem, in fact, to be obstacles to change. Yet meta-organizations run a high risk of greater change – a risk of being dissolved. Their dissolution may be the answer to success as well as failure. In this chapter we discuss change in meta-organizations, arguing that many metaorganizations can best be understoood as being in a transitional phase between a weak organization with strong members and a strong organization with weak members.

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