Organization outside organizations: the significance of partial organization

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Marijn Meijering

Authors: G. Ahrne, N. Brunsson

Publication Year: 2010


Journal: Organization

Volume: 18

Issue: 1

Categories: Adaptive Organization, New forms of Organization


It is common practice in organizational research to restrict the concept of organization to formal organizations, and to describe the world outside these entities by such other concepts as institutions or networks. It is argued in this article that the concept of organization can be fruitfully broadened to include some aspects of the order that exists outside and among organizations. A broader concept includes not only complete, formal organization, but also ‘partial organization’. Both types of organization are based on decisions, but whereas complete organizations have access to all elements of organization, partial organization is based on only one or a few of these elements. Like complete organization, partial organization is a common phenomenon that not least characterizes much of the contemporary global order. The authors discuss how partial organization arises, how and why institutions and networks sometimes become organized, and the consequences of organization for change, transparency and accountability.


Marijn Meijering