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Knowledge, Identity and Difference in Project Organisations

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  • N215 Change And Innovation
  • N213 Project Management


EGOS 2001 Identity and difference.PDF 1 Paper presented to Sub-theme 20 ‘Managing Boundaries in Organisations’ of the 17th EGOS Colloquium ‘The Odyssey of Organising’, Lyon, France, 5-7 July 2001 Knowledge, identity, and difference in project organisations Nick Marshall Complex Product Systems Innovation Centre (CoPS), Centre for Research in Innovation Management (CENTRIM), University of Brighton Introduction It seems intuitive that boundaries, and the processes through which they are constructed, reinforced, transcended, or dissolved are an important aspect of organisation, as well as of social life more generally. People are constantly parcelling up their worlds, and having their worlds parcelled up for them, by a series of distinctions between inside and outside, identity and difference. However, there are many pitfalls on the road to theorising organisational boundaries. This paper attempts to identify some of the more serious of these as a prelude to thinking about the ambiguous boundaries of project organisations. These, perhaps more than other organisational forms, make it difficult to ignore the multiple and cross-cutting character of constructions of identity and difference. The multi-functional and often multi-organisational nature of projects, bringing together diverse individuals and groups, lend them a hybrid character of being simultaneously inside and outside, of difference within identity. Alternative conceptions of boundaries within organisation theory will be explored to consider how far they are able to address the hybridity of project organisations. These vary from unitarist treatments of organisations which tend to depict their boundaries as precise limits of containment, to approaches which see boundaries in more open terms as zones of interaction, to social constructionist accounts which emphasise the constitution of boundaries through ongoing processes of inclusion and e

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