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Long-duration organizing in Organizations of Organizations

Kilminster, W. (2023). Long-duration organizing in Organizations of Organizations. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis is founded on an interest in organizing in groups of organizations. Whilst interorganizational arrangements are not a new phenomenon they are increasingly prevalent in contemporary society. Organizing can be complex in a group comprising multiple independent, yet interdependent, organizations. Such contexts are inherently pluralistic, with interests differing between participants (Gulati, Puranam, and Tushman 2012) and between participants and the group as a whole (Provan, Fish, and Sydow 2007). The ongoing survival of an interorganizational arrangement depends not on addressing these potentially divergent, often unresolvable, tensions at a particular point in time, but on their ongoing accommodation. The objective of this thesis is to contribute to efforts to deepen understanding of the processes and dynamics of interorganizational organizing over a long duration, in the face of these inherent tensions (Altman, Nagle, and Tushman 2022; Berends and Sydow 2019; Lumineau and Oliveira 2018).

I investigate interorganizational organizing using a process lens, underpinned by a historic perspective. My research is based on a longitudinal study of a salient case, the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, theoretically selected for its extreme longevity and revelatory potential (Pettigrew 1990). This thesis is based on the three-paper model and comprises two empirical and one conceptual paper. Paper one investigates the persistence of a core organizing practice over a forty-year period during which it was repeatedly questioned. Using path dependence theory (Schreyögg and Sydow 2011) as the point of departure, I identify a process of active persistence, through which a contested practice is intentionally retained because of the stabilizing benefits it brings to the group. Paper two investigates the persistent paradoxical tensions between the parts and the whole, and relationship between the management of this paradox of organizing (Clegg, da Cunha, and Cunha 2002; Smith and Lewis 2011) and the development of collective organizing. I find the cumulative development of an infrastructure of interdependence, which is both a response to and requirement of persistent part-whole tensions. Paper three considers the puzzle of how to conceptualize an interorganizational arrangement. I compare three conceptualizations of interorganizational arrangements through the lens of partial organizational theory (Ahrne and Brunsson 2011) to determine their points of theoretic differentiation in relation to what the interorganizational arrangement is, and how it is organised.

My three papers contribute to a richer understanding of the processes and theoretically relevant characteristics of organizing in interorganizational arrangements. My explanations foreground how tensions between participants, or between participants and the whole, influence the ongoing development of interorganizational arrangements. The zooming in and out afforded by a historic perspective enabled me to identify patterns of both long duration change and stability from which I develop process model explanations of persistence and collective organizing which have roles for both self-reinforcing dynamics and intentional action. More broadly, I contribute to the progression of historical organization studies as it develops from an emerging movement into an established community of practice (MacLean, Harvey, and Clegg 2016).

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
Bayes Business School > Management
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Kilminster Thesis 2023 PDF-A.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 31 August 2026 due to copyright restrictions.


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