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The Institutional Embeddedness of Project Networks: The Case of Content Production in German Television


  • Jorg Sydow
  • Udo Staber


Project networks are an organizational form of production and exchange among functionally interdependent but legally autonomous firms and individuals. Although these networks are of limited duration, co-ordination of actors and activities takes place with respect to past experiences and future expectations. Project networks depend on supportive institutions in the surrounding organizational field to provide the regulative and normative resources within which practices are given meaning. In this paper, we explore the role of 'institutional thickness' for the performance of project networks in television content production in two media regions in Germany. We use GIDDENS', 1984, structuration perspective, to emphasize the dynamics and ambiguities of institutional processes. The analysis suggests that the two media regions differ in institutional thickness in ways which explain, at least in part, differences in the growth and viability of project networks. Les reseaux de projet constituent une forme organisationnelle de production et d'echange parmi des entreprises et des individus qui sont interdependants du point de vue fonctionnel mais autonomes sur le plan juridique. Malgre la duree de vie limitee de ces reseaux-la, la coordination des acteurs et des activites a lieu en fonction des experiences du passeet des attentes futures. Les reseaux de projet dependent des organismes de soutien situes dans le domaine organisationnel environnant afin de fournir les ressources regulatrices et normatives au sein desquelles les pratiques se voient donner un sens. Cet article cherche a examiner le role de l'ancrage institutionnel pour ce qui est de la performance des reseaux de projet dans la production du fond et de la forme dans la television de deux regions d'importance mediatique en Allemagne. On se sert de la perspective stucturante de GIDDENS, 1984, pour souligner la dynamique et l'ambiguite des processus institutionnels. L'analyse laisse voir que deux regions se distinguent du point de vie de leur ancrage institutionnel d'une facon qui explique, du moins en partie, les differences de la croissance et de la viabilite des reseaux de projet. Projektnetzwerke sind eine Organisationsform okonomischer Aktivitaten von zwar rechtlich selbstandigen, jedoch funktional interdependenten Unternehmungen bzw. Unternehmern, die fur eine begrenzte Zeit--ein Projekt--zusammenkommen, ihre Zusammenarbeit allerdings im Lichte ihrer bisherigen Erfahrungen und im Schatten ihrer zukunftigen Erwartungen koordinieren. Projektnetzwerke sind dabei auf die Unterstutzung durch Institutionen in dem organisationalen Feld angewiesen, die ihnen den Zugriff auf Ressourcen ermoglichen und Sinn und Legitimitat verfugbar machen. In diesem Beitrag wird die Rolle von "institutional thickness" fur die Performanz von Projektnetzwerken im Feld der Content-Produktion fur das Fernsehen in zwei deutschen Medienregionen untersucht. Dies geschieht auf der Grundlage der Giddens' schen Strukturationstheorie, die die Dynamik und Ambiguitat von Institutionalisierungsprozessen betont. Die Analyse zeigt, dass die zwei untersuchten Regionen sich hinsichtlich der institutionellen Dichte signifikant unterscheiden. Dies erklart--zumindest zum Teil--die Wachstums- und Erfolgsdifferenzen der Netzwerke und Regionen.

Suggested Citation

  • Jorg Sydow & Udo Staber, 2002. "The Institutional Embeddedness of Project Networks: The Case of Content Production in German Television," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 215-227.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:36:y:2002:i:3:p:215-227
    DOI: 10.1080/00343400220122034

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cooke, Philip & Gomez Uranga, Mikel & Etxebarria, Goio, 1997. "Regional innovation systems: Institutional and organisational dimensions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 475-491, December.
    2. Lundin, Rolf A. & Söderholm, Anders, 1995. "A theory of the temporary organization," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 437-455, December.
    3. Bart Nooteboom, 2000. "Learning by Interaction: Absorptive Capacity, Cognitive Distance and Governance," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 4(1), pages 69-92, March.
    4. Midler, Christophe, 1995. ""Projectification" of the firm: The renault case," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 363-375, December.
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