Introduction: Boundaries and Organization

Tor Hernes, Neil Paulsen

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The citation, taken from an anthology edited by Deborah Pellow, reflects a growing interest in boundary issues and corresponding systematic research efforts to study boundaries as phenomena in their own right. Epstein (1997) notes in particular that the interest in boundaries has attracted renewed interest in the social sciences. Several explanations are offered as to why this phenomenon is particularly present over the last decade. The technological explanation is widespread and focuses on the impact of increasingly accessible and high-powered communication technologies. Another common explanation is the globalization of world markets with the corresponding demands on firms to be competitive in markets beyond their regional or national boundaries. A third explanation is the transition from mass production to individualized production, which requires seamless manufacturing systems that transcend organizational borders. This trend cannot be explained simply as a result of organizational obligations and opportunities alone. The “blurring” of boundaries can also be identified in global trends that are taking place in arts, fashion, and politics. There are things to be said in favor of this evolution. In the public domain, the diminishing of boundaries allows for more active citizen participation. In private industry, goods and services can be provided that correspond better to the needs of individual customers as industries develop “seamless” processes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManaging Boundaries in Organizations : Multiple Perspectives
EditorsNeil Paulsen, Tor Hernes
Number of pages14
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2003
ISBN (Print)9781349508709
ISBN (Electronic)9780230512559
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Organization theory
  • Temporary organization
  • Virtual team
  • Boundary span
  • Boundary work

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