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Talking Across Boundaries: A Case Study of Distributed Governance

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Abstract

We explore the relation between organizational culture and governance in distributed nonprofit organizations. The transmission of culture across geographic distances facilitates governance in nonprofit distributed organizations, allowing distributed members to span the boundary of the organization to accomplish organizational objectives. We suggest that boundary-spanning is a key aspect of governance in distributed nonprofit organizations. While much of the governance literature focuses on the boundary-spanning activities of nonprofit boards, we describe boundary-spanning as an activity engaged in by distributed organizational members of nonprofit organizations. Distributed workers negotiate multiple relationships at the edge of their organization, what we call talking across boundaries. We present an in-depth case study that illustrates successful governance in a distributed nonprofit organization. We identify the elements of organizational culture that contribute to governance processes and facilitate the achievement of organizational objectives.

Résumé

Nous explorons la relation entre la culture organisationnelle et la gouvernance au sein des organisations sans but lucratif délocalisées. La transmission de la culture à travers les distances géographiques facilite la gouvernance des organisations sans but lucratif délocalisées, permettant aux membres délocalisés de pratiquer l'échange d'informations au sein de l'organisation afin d'accomplir les objectifs organisationnels. Nous postulons que le transfert de connaissances est un aspect de la gouvernance au sein des organisations sans but lucratif délocalisées. Si la plupart des publications sur la gouvernance s'attachent aux activités de transfert de connaissances par les conseils d'administration des organisations sans but lucratif, nous décrivons cet échange comme une activité exercée par les membres organisationnels délocalisés des organisations sans but lucratif. Les travailleurs délocalisés négocient des relations multiples aux frontières de l'organisation, ce que nous désignons comme un dialogue au-delà des limites. Une étude de cas approfondie est présentée, qui illustre une gouvernance réussie au sein d'une organisation sans but lucratif délocalisée. Nous identifions les éléments de la culture organisationnelle contribuant aux processus de gouvernance et qui facilitent la réalisation des objectifs organisationnels.

Zusammenfassung

Wir untersuchen die Beziehung zwischen der Organisationskultur und der Organisationsführung in dezentralisierten Nonprofit-Organisationen. Die Übermittlung der Kultur über geografische Distanzen erleichtert die Führung in dezentralisierten Nonprofit-Organisationen und ermöglicht Mitgliedern an verschiedenen Standorten, die Grenzen der Organisation zu überspannen, um die Ziele der Organisation zu erreichen. Wir behaupten, dass das Überspannen der Grenzen ein wichtiger Aspekt der Führung in dezentralisierten Nonprofit-Organisationen ist. Während sich ein Großteil der Literatur zum Thema Führung auf die grenzüberspannenden Aktivitäten von Vorständen in Nonprofit-Organisationen konzentriert, beschreiben wir das Überspannen von Grenzen als eine Aktivität der dezentralisierten Mitglieder von Nonprofit-Organisationen. Mitarbeiter an unterschiedlichen Standorten verhandeln viele Beziehungen am Rande ihrer Organisation, was wir als grenzübergreifende Gespräche bezeichnen. Wir präsentieren eine ausführliche Fallstudie, die die erfolgreiche Führung in einer dezentralisierten Nonprofit-Organisation veranschaulicht, und bestimmen die Elemente der Organisationskultur, die zu Führungsprozessen beitragen und die Erreichung der Organisationsziele ermöglichen.

Resumen

Exploramos la relación entre la cultura organizativa y la gobernanza en organizaciones distribuidas sin ánimo de lucro. La transmisión de la cultura a través de distancias geográficas facilita la gobernanza en organizaciones distribuidas sin ánimo de lucro, permitiendo a los miembros distribuidos ampliar los límites de la organización para lograr objetivos organizativos. Sugerimos que la expansión de límites es un aspecto clave de la gobernanza en organizaciones distribuidas sin ánimo de lucro. Aunque una gran parte del material publicado sobre la gobernanza se centra en actividades de expansión de límites de consejos sin ánimo de lucro, describimos la expansión de límites como una actividad en la que se implican miembros organizativos distribuidos de organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro. Los trabajadores distribuidos negocian múltiples relaciones al borde de su organización, que denominamos hablar a través de los límites. Presentamos un estudio de caso en profundidad que ilustra una gobernanza satisfactoria en una organización distribuida sin ánimo de lucro. Identificamos los elementos de la cultura organizativa que contribuyen a los procesos de gobernanza y facilitan el logro de los objetivos organizativos.

要約

我们探讨了分布式非营利组织的组织文化和治理之间的关系。跨地理位置传播文化有助于非营利分布式组织的治理,使得分布式成员跨越组织边界以实现组织目标。我们建议,边界跨越是分布式非营利组织治理的关键因素。尽管许多治理文献专注于非营利委员会的边界跨越活动,但是我们将边界跨越描述为非营利组织的分布式组织成员参与的活动。分布式员工在组织边缘协调多种关系,我们称之为跨边界交谈。我们介绍了一个深入的案例研究,其中展示分布式非营利组织的成功治理。我们确定了对治理流程做出贡献的组织文化并促进组织目标的实现。

摘要

本論文では、組織文化と分散型の非営利団体におけるガバナンスの関係を調査する。地理的な間隔を超えた文化発信では、分散したメンバーが組織の目標を達成するために、組織の境界を越えて非営利団体のガバナンスを促進している。境界間は、分散型の非営利団体のガバナンスにとって重要な側面があるといえる。ガバナンスの資料の大半が非営利団体の役員による境界を越えた活動に焦点を当てているが、本論文では分散型の非営利団体の会員が実施する活動の境界間について述べる。分散型の活動家は、境界を越えての対話という組織において複数の関係を構築する。非営利団体における成功した分散型のガバナンスの綿密な事例について述べる。ガバナンスのプロセスに貢献して組織の目的の到達を容易にするような組織文化の要素を識別する。

ملخص

نحن نقوم بدراسة العلاقة بين الثقافة التنظيمية و الحكم في المنظمات الغير ربحية الموزعة. نقل الثقافة عبر مسافات جغرافية يسهل الحكم في المنظمات الغير هادفة للربح الموزعة ، مما يسمح للأعضاء الموزعة أن توسع حدود المنظمة لتحقيق الأهداف التنظيمية . نحن نقترح أن إمتداد الحدود هو أحد الجوانب الرئيسية للحكم في المنظمات الغير ربحية الموزعة. في حين أن الكثير من أدبيات الحكم يركز على إمتداد - حدود أنشطة اللجان الغير ربحية ، نحن نصف إمتداد- الحدود كالإشتراك في نشاط يقوم به أعضاء المنظمة الموزعين من منظمات غير ربحية . العمال الموزعة تقوم بالتفاوض على علاقات متعددة على حافة منظمتهم ، ما نسميه يتحدث عبر الحدود . نقدم دراسة حالة متعمقة التي توضح الحكم الناجح في منظمة غير ربحية موزعة. نحن نحدد عناصر الثقافة التنظيمية التي تسهم في عمليات الحكم وتقوم بتسهيل تحقيق الأهداف التنظيمية .

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We use this case study to generalize to nonprofit governance theory rather than to other nonprofit organizations.

  2. 2.

    Espoused values are the values that members say they believe in. Espoused values sometimes differ from “values in action.” That is what people say is sometimes different that what they do. This idea comes from Edgar Schein’s work on organizational culture and Chris Argyris’ work on organizational learning.

  3. 3.

    The data from this case study have been de-identified to protect the confidentiality of the organizational members. All members are referred to as “she” regardless of their actual gender.

  4. 4.

    The lack of a traditional governing board makes this a good case for examining alternative governance structures.

  5. 5.

    Levinson et al. (1962) developed the notion of ‘psychological contract’ to describe the conscious and unconscious expectations between workers and leaders, which has important consequences for the employee performance.

  6. 6.

    We use the term ‘held’ to describe how the cultural artifacts described here are also a psychological structure or container that allows the workers to place themselves ‘inside’ the organization. The notion of containment and holding originates with the work of Wilfred Bion and Donald Winnicott respectively.

  7. 7.

    The term “primary task” refers to the overarching goal or task of the organization in its environment.

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Correspondence to Carrie M. Duncan.

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Duncan, C.M., Schoor, M.A. Talking Across Boundaries: A Case Study of Distributed Governance. Voluntas 26, 731–755 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-014-9453-2

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Keywords

  • Nonprofit
  • Governance
  • Culture
  • Distributed organization
  • Boundary-spanning