A Theory of Meta-Organisation: An Analysis of Steering Processes in European Commission-Funded R&D ‘Network of Excellence’ Consortia

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/144154
Title: A Theory of Meta-Organisation: An Analysis of Steering Processes in European Commission-Funded R&D ‘Network of Excellence’ Consortia
Author: Bor, Sanne
Contributor: Svenska handelshögskolan, institutionen för företagsledning och organisation, företagsledning och organisation
Hanken School of Economics, Department of Management and Organisation, Management and Organisation
Publisher: Svenska handelshögskolan
Date: 2014-11-25
Language: en
Belongs to series: Economics and Society – 285
ISBN: 978-952-232-266-1 (printed)
978-952-232-267-8 (PDF)
ISSN: 0424-7256 (printed)
2242-699X (PDF)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/144154
Abstract: Organisations collaborate with one another. And they appear to do so more and more frequently in the recent decades. At the same time many of these efforts fail to deliver what the collaboration was set up for. This combination creates the basis for the fascinating and stimulating research field of inter-organisational relations – a field which is still very much in development. In this thesis the focus is on meta-organisations, associations in which organisations are members. The steering of such inter-organisational structures appears to need a novel approach, a collective, multi-level engagement which I set out to examine. The thesis is structured to foreground the process of the research and the development of my thinking. The study is conducted on R&D consortia funded as Networks of Excellence by the European Commission under Framework Programme 6. The study is based primarily on five case studies, by way of documentation and interviews. In addition, the study draws on data collected on 101 consortia and consortium agreements from 50 consortia. The thesis develops the theoretical understanding of meta-organisations and their organisational conditions and implications. Meta-organisation theory, thus far, has focused mainly on the implications following from having organisations as members. This thesis suggests adding to this theory the implications created by constitutional membership, that is, members that constitute the organisation. Constitutional membership makes a difference in three ways: it creates a clear boundary of the meta-organisation; it assumes collective ownership of the meta-organisation; and it makes possible the utilising of indirect resources – the resources of the member organisations, and most importantly their personnel – by the meta-organisation. In addition, the thesis develops a conceptual framework of steering processes, combining governance, management and administration. This framework shows how both decisions and mutual adjustment in top-down, bottom-up, and horizontal directions steer meta-organisations. The framework may, however, be fruitfully used to study other organisations as well. The findings from the analysis of the steering processes show that the utilisation of indirect resources decentralises the governance, management and administration of activities to the participants of member organisations who are undertaking these activities. The results also demonstrate that the governance, management and administration of undivided tasks centralises to those with formal management responsibility. In addition, the analysis shows how control and granting are avoided, externalised or formalised to deal with lack of hierarchical authority. These and other findings of the study seek to refine and extend the hypothesised conditions of meta-organisation theory.
Subject: meta-organisation theory
meta-organisations
inter-organisational networks
constitutional membership
steering processes
governance
management
administration


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