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Forming a Collaborative Community: An Agent-based Simulation Study of the Effects of Membership Composition

Organization Design

ISBN: 978-1-78756-330-8, eISBN: 978-1-78756-329-2

Publication date: 10 December 2018

Abstract

A collaborative community is an organizational form that is increasingly being used in knowledge-intensive industries to accelerate innovation via collaboration. This study examines key design issues faced by a bilateral broker collaborative community at the point of its formation: (1) whether a critical mass of members is required for community survival, (2) the nature of the match between member skills and community challenges, and (3) how the mix of member skills needs to be adjusted over time to sustain community growth. Findings from our agent-based simulation study indicate that, contrary to suggestions in the literature, a critical mass of members is not necessary for a bilateral broker community to survive early on. The literature also suggests that there should be a match between the skill levels of community members and the skill requirements of the challenges that the community must solve in order for it to grow. We find that a match between skill levels and challenge requirements is necessary but not sufficient: the skill levels of community members must significantly exceed the skill requirements of the challenges. Lastly, we find that the appropriate amount of heterogeneity in member skills is contingent on several factors associated with how the community adapts over time. Implications of these findings for the theory and practice of organization design are discussed.

Keywords

Citation

Obel, B., Håkonsson, D.D., Snow, C.C. and Bach, L.A. (2018), "Forming a Collaborative Community: An Agent-based Simulation Study of the Effects of Membership Composition", Organization Design (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 40), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 255-273. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0742-332220180000040009

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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