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Organization outside Organizations
The Abundance of Partial Organization in Social Life


Göran Ahrne, Nils Brunsson, Andreas Rasche, David Seidl, Peter Edlund, Josef Pallas, Linda Wedlin, Michael Grothe-Hammer, Stefan Kirchner, Elke Schüßler, Ingrid Gustafsson, Kristina Tamm Hallström, Daniel Castillo, Lambros Roumbanis, Jörg Sydow, Christina Garsten, Adrienne Sörbom, Amir Rostami, Mikaela Sundberg, Mikko Laamanen, Sanne Bor, Frank den Hond, Dennis Schoeneborn, Leonhard Dobusch, Noomi Weinryb, Cecilia Gullberg, Jaako Turunen, Kati Järvi, Liisa Välikangas, Dieter Kerwer
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  • Date Published: March 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108468268

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About the Authors
  • The book explores how various social settings are partially organized even when they do not form part of a formal organization. It also shows how even formal organizations may be only partially organized. Professors Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson first established the concept of partial organization in 2011 and in doing so opened up a ground-breaking new field of organizational analysis. An academic community has since developed around the concept, and Ahrne and Brunsson have edited this collection to reflect the current state of inquiry in this burgeoning subject and to set an agenda for future research. Its chapters explain how organization is a salient feature in many social settings, including markets, interfirm networks, social movements, criminal gangs, internet communication and family life. Organization theory is much more relevant for the understanding of social processes than previously assumed. This book provides a new understanding of many social phenomena and opens up new fields for organizational analysis.

    • Highlights the existence and salience of organization in many areas and situations
    • Makes a clear distinction between organization and other forms of order, and elaborates the differences and transformations among them
    • Presents a number of empirical applications of the concept of partial organization to stimulate further research
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'In an imaginative move to renew and enlarge the scope of organization studies, Ahrne and Brunsson observe that organizational elements are no longer contained within the boundaries of discrete firms or agencies, but have broken up and flowed out to operate in varying combinations to create new partially organized entities in numerous social contexts. Together with their contributors, they examine their multiple guises in arenas as varied as markets, digital platforms, the sharing economy and 'organized' crime. An insightful window into the changing structure of contemporary society.' W. Richard Scott, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Business, Education, Engineering, and Medicine, Stanford University

    'Ahrne and Brunsson have put together a wide-ranging set of studies of the rationalization of contemporary society outside formal organizations themselves. Markets generate rationalized structure, and so do interpersonal relationships, criminal groups, and globalized international life. It is all pulled together in this impressive book under the creative heading of 'partial organization'.' John W. Meyer, Stanford University

    'The theory of partial organization is the most innovative development in organizational theory in many years – It's particularly useful for areas such as financial markets that are often considered to be understructured and atomized. The book is immensely successful in putting the theory together with different empirical applications; in a global world, it is badly needed to explain the growing domain and power of dispersed collectives without clear governance structure that transcend national boundaries.' Karin Knorr Cetina, Otto Borchert Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago

    'In markets, social movements, and everyday social life, we are increasingly confronted with forms of organized action that do not look like formal organization, from open source software to organized crime to Anonymous. Ahrne and Brunsson offer the concept of 'partial organization' to help make sense of these forms, and Organization Outside Organizations collects a sweeping set of contributions to this new and exciting literature.' Jerry Davis, Associate Dean for Business and Impact, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108468268
    • length: 457 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 150 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Organization unbound Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson
    Part I. Rules, Sanctions, Membership:
    2. Standards between partial and complete organization Andreas Rasche and David Seidl
    3. Prizes and the organization of status Peter Edlund, Josef Pallas and Linda Wedlin
    4. Membership or contributorship? Managing the inclusion of individuals into organizations Michael Grothe-Hammer
    Part II. Organization in and Around Markets:
    5. The partial organization of markets Nils Brunsson
    6. The organization of digital marketplaces: unmasking the role of internet platforms in the sharing economy Stefan Kirchner and Elke Schüßler
    7. Organizing for independence Ingrid Gustafsson and Kristina Tamm Hallström
    8. Queues: tensions between institution and organization Göran Ahrne, Daniel Castillo and Lambros Roumbanis
    Part III. Networks and Other Social Relationships:
    9. The inter-firm network as partial organization? Jörg Sydow
    10. An organized network: world economic forum and the partial organizing of global agendas Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sörbom
    11. Organizing intimacy Göran Ahrne
    12. How is 'organized crime' organized? Göran Ahrne and Amir Rostami
    13. Brotherhood as an organized social relationship Mikaela Sundberg
    Part IV. Social Movements and Collective Action:
    14. The dilemma of organization in social movement initiatives Mikko Laamanen, Sanne Bor and Frank den Hond
    15. Alternating between partial and complete organization: the case of anonymous Dennis Schoeneborn and Leonhard Dobusch
    16. Collective action through social media: possibilities and challenges of partial organizing Noomi Weinryb, Cecilia Gullberg and Jaako Turunen
    Part V. The Partial Organization of Formal Organizations:
    17. Partial de-organizing for innovation and strategic renewal? A study of an industrial innovation programme Frank den Hond, Kati Järvi and Liisa Välikangas
    18. The partial organization of international relations: international organizations as meta-organizations Göran Ahrne, Nils Brunsson and Dieter Kerwer
    19. More or less organization? Göran Ahrne and Nils Brunsson.

  • Editors

    Göran Ahrne, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
    Göran Ahrne is professor emeritus at the Department of Sociology, Stockholm University and also associated with Stockholm Centre for organizational research (Score). He has written a number of books in various fields of sociology and organization theory including: Agency and Organization (1990), Social Organizations: Interaction Inside, Outside and Between Organizations (1994), and Meta-Organizations (2008).

    Nils Brunsson, Uppsala Universitet, Sweden
    Nils Brunsson is professor of management and associated with the Department of Business Studies, Uppsala University and with Stockholm Centre for organizational research (Score). He has published almost thirty books in the field of organization studies, including Mechanisms of Hope (2006), The Consequences of Decision-Making (2007), A World of Standards (2000), Reform as Routine (2009), Meta-Organizations (2008), and Organizing and Reorganizing Markets (2018), as well as numerous articles.


    Göran Ahrne, Nils Brunsson, Andreas Rasche, David Seidl, Peter Edlund, Josef Pallas, Linda Wedlin, Michael Grothe-Hammer, Stefan Kirchner, Elke Schüßler, Ingrid Gustafsson, Kristina Tamm Hallström, Daniel Castillo, Lambros Roumbanis, Jörg Sydow, Christina Garsten, Adrienne Sörbom, Amir Rostami, Mikaela Sundberg, Mikko Laamanen, Sanne Bor, Frank den Hond, Dennis Schoeneborn, Leonhard Dobusch, Noomi Weinryb, Cecilia Gullberg, Jaako Turunen, Kati Järvi, Liisa Välikangas, Dieter Kerwer

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