Organization and Membership: Introduction to the Special Issue

Michael Grothe-Hammer, Anders la Cour

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialResearch


Membership is one of the most important concepts in organization theory, and has been mostly taken for granted for decades. Recent works have shattered the existing paradigm of membership, and several scholars have come up with new ways to understand the relationship between organizations and the people ‘belonging' to them. This debate has been crucially inspired by Niklas Luhmann's modern systems theory – however, so far mostly without developing modern systems theory itself. With this Special Issue on “Organization and Membership,” we want to carry the discussion back to its muse. This Special Issue presents works that specifically advance the membership notion of modern systems theory – and, hence, offer new inspirational impulses for the whole field of organization studies. In this introduction, we briefly present Luhmann's works on membership and provide an overview of the research articles featured in this Special Issue.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSystems Research and Behavioral Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)419-424
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Membership
  • New forms of organization
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Organization theory
  • Systems theory

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