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Terminating Institutionalized Termination: Why SEMATECH became More than a Temporary System

Project-Based Organizing and Strategic Management

ISBN: 978-1-78052-192-3, eISBN: 978-1-78052-193-0

Publication date: 12 October 2011


Purpose – The aim of this study is to inquire into the circumstances and mechanisms that drive temporary systems to become permanent organizations.

Methodology/approach – This study is based on a retrospective longitudinal case study (1980–1995) and informed by research on organizational path dependence. Our research object is SEMATECH, the leading global semiconductor manufacturing consortium.

Findings – This longitudinal case study of the research and development consortium SEMATECH shows how and under what conditions a project, once its initial objective had been achieved, managed to turn itself into a permanent organization, that is, it terminated its institutionalized termination. Based on our findings, we argue that the postponing of this specific project's institutionalized termination can be understood by adopting a path dependence perspective that allows for the capturing of self-reinforcing processes to account for the stability of the (once temporary) system.

Originality/value of the paper – In this chapter, we question the certainty put forward in organizational studies of projects concerning the ephemeral nature of projects due to their built-in termination mechanism.


Müller-Seitz, G. and Sydow, J. (2011), "Terminating Institutionalized Termination: Why SEMATECH became More than a Temporary System", Cattani, G., Ferriani, S., Frederiksen, L. and Täube, F. (Ed.) Project-Based Organizing and Strategic Management (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 28), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 147-186.



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