Purpose – We explore two characteristics of groups in today's work environments, membership dispersion and geographic dispersion, and the effects that these conditions…
Purpose – We explore two characteristics of groups in today's work environments, membership dispersion and geographic dispersion, and the effects that these conditions have on group and organizational learning.
Approach – We integrate findings on group membership dispersion and geographic dispersion and develop predictions of dispersion's effects on group learning, incorporating the literature on knowledge transfer, transactive memory, turnover, and communication.
Findings – Members in multiple work groups, while exposed to knowledge from different areas, have weaker group identities and are more adversely affected by time constraints than members who belong to only one group. Group members can be dispersed sequentially through turnover, which creates more knowledge-retention problems than those experienced by stable groups. Members of geographically dispersed groups are in positions to integrate novel knowledge. The necessary use of technology to communicate, however, reduces the ability of geographically dispersed group members to convey ideas as effectively as their collocated counterparts. Geographically distributed group members experience less common ground and more difficulty in transferring knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, than their collocated counterparts.
Originality/value – We discuss how membership and geographic dispersion pose challenges to and provide opportunities for group learning. We suggest how learning within dispersed groups can be supported as well as what the future holds for the role of these groups in the new economy. The chapter concludes that although membership and geographic dispersion pose challenges to learning at the group level, these conditions enable learning at the level of the organization.
Social movement scholars have increasingly drawn attention to the process of “bridge building” in social movements – that is, the process by which activists attempt to…
Social movement scholars have increasingly drawn attention to the process of “bridge building” in social movements – that is, the process by which activists attempt to resolve conflicts stemming from different collective identities. However, most scholars assume that social movements primarily attempt to resolve tensions among activists themselves, and thus that bridge building is a means to other ends rather than a primary goal of social movement activism. In this chapter, I challenge these assumptions through a case study of a “bridging organization” known as Bridge Builders, which sought as its primary goal to “bridge the gap between the LGBT and Christian communities” at a Christian university in Nashville, Tennessee. I highlight the mechanisms by which Bridge Builders attempted to facilitate bridge building at the university, and I argue that Bridge Builders succeeded in bridging (a) disparate institutional identities at their university, (b) “structural holes” between LGBT- and religious-identified groups at their university, and (c) oppositional personal identities among organizational members. As I discuss in the conclusion, the case of Bridge Builders has implications for literatures on bridge building in social movements, cultural and biographical consequences of social movements, and social movement strategy.