Organizational Learning under Organizational Impermanence: Collaborative Ties in Film Project Firms
In the last two decades a lot of research has been devoted to unveiling the processes through which organizations learn and store knowledge. This research is typically concerned with organizations lastingly engaged in the provision of goods or services. Permanency is usually presumed in order for the encoding of inferences from history to take place. But what if organizational permanency cannot be assumed ex-ante? Project firms represent an interesting case in point. A project firm is a transient form of organization that ceases to exist as soon as its single target is achieved, as such it does not exhibit stable structures nor does it exhibit ostensible history-based paths upon which to build its choices and nurture its organizational knowledge. This apparent paradox can be resolved, in part, by extending the view from the isolated project to the relational context in which project firms operate. Using longitudinal data from the U.S. feature film industry, we show that the process of organizational formation and dissolution that characterizes this context is underpinned by patterns of enduring collaborations among interdependent industry participants. We build on these findings to speculate on processes of learning and remembering that interpenetrate project firms’ boundaries, by being embedded within a texture of stable interpersonal ties. Copyright Springer 2005
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