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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 9: Organized Globalisation

Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson


8. Meta-organizations and individualbased organizations The fundamental difference between meta-organizations and individual-based organizations is often overlooked because analysts take for granted that organizational members are always individuals. Thus, it is common in studies of meta-organizations to regard their employees as their members (see, for instance, Barnett and Finnemore 2002). But having employees does not distinguish meta-organizations from other types of organizations. A metaorganization is a special kind of organization with special problems and solutions because its members are organizations. In this chapter, we summarize the differences that we have noted in previous chapters between meta-organizations and individual-based organization. We list some of the hypotheses that we have presented and remind the reader of the relationships between these hypotheses and the assertions that we made in Chapter 3. 1. Assertion 1 was that there is a series of fundamental differences between individuals and organizations: a) One such difference relates to the fact that organizations have their own capacity for action and access to their own resources and their own members. We have hypothesized that this difference creates special conditions for metaorganizations in several ways: – The members of a meta-organization can supply it with a great capacity for action and access to resources right from the start. – A few members are often enough to enable a meta142 Meta-organizations and individual-based organizations 143 b) c) d) e) organization to be effective and to gain influence and attention. – The recruitment of members is facilitated by the fact that organizations find membership to be relatively...

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