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Collaborative organizing: An “ideal type” for a new paradigm

Research in Organizational Change and Development

ISBN: 978-0-76230-627-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-041-8

Publication date: 3 February 2000


Signs of increased collaboration within and between organizations are readily apparent. An emerging “new paradigm” literature suggests that this trend is part of a fundamental transformation toward a more collaborative global culture. In this chapter, I first outline the key premises of an alternative “theory of reality” articulated by this literature, which integrates evidence and ideas from a variety of fields of human knowledge and experience. Next, I contrast the basic assumptions of the current “competition paradigm” with those of the new, emerging “collaboration paradigm.” Based on the foundation provided by these new paradigm ideas, I then provide a description of “collaborative organizing.” This new model of organization is described in terms of three categories of features pertaining to the purpose, design, and functioning of these organizational systems. While most of these characteristics are currently receiving considerable attention in both theory and practice of organizations, the collaborative organizing model reflects an initial attempt to integrate these features into a coherent whole that constitutes a new “ideal type” of organization. As an ideal type, I argue that this model provides a better fit with contemporary environmental conditions than the Weberian bureaucratic hierarchy. As such, it can serve as a “desired future state” to guide organizations as they undertake the transformation to a more collaborative mode of operating. The chapter concludes with additional comments regarding the possibility of a global transformation to the collaborative paradigm.


Robertson, P.J. (2000), "Collaborative organizing: An “ideal type” for a new paradigm", Research in Organizational Change and Development (Research in Organizational Change and Development, Vol. 12), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 205-267.



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