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A theory of the temporary organization

Rolf A. Lundin and Anders Söderholm

Scandinavian Journal of Management, 1995, vol. 11, issue 4, 437-455

Abstract: The idea of the firm as an eternal entity possibly came in with the era of industrialism. In any case, the practical consequences of this idea contrast sharply with many ideas about projects and temporary organizations. Mainstream organization theory is based upon the assumption that organizations are or should be permanent; theories on temporary organizational settings (e.g., projects) are much less prevalent. In this article, we address the need for a theory of temporary organizations, thus seeking to supplement traditional project management wisdom. We also suggest some components of such a theory by elaborating on certain ideas about projects. "Action", as opposed to "decision", is one such component which is central to a theory of the temporary organization. In some respects we are thus dealing with antipoles, in other respects with concepts similar to those in established mainstream organizational theory. The role of "time" in the firm is different as compared to its role in the temporary organization. The differences have several important implications and we are able to suggest a coherent outline of a theory which we believe could be useful and which also covers several important aspects of temporary organizations.

Keywords: Temporary; organization; project; action; sequencing; bracketing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1995
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