Research Seminar | Meta-organizations
Meta-organizations – organizations with other organizations as their members – are everywhere yet we rarely think of them and theorize them as such. Well known cases of meta-organizations include the European Union, the WTO or FIFA, lesser known ones include the Birdlife International, the Global Business Initiative, and the Forest Stewardship Council. Trade associations, multi-partner alliances, most international nongovernmental organizations and all international government organizations are meta-organizations. Meta-organizations attend to such matters as lobbying, pooling resources, negotiating prices, diffusing global standards, or tackling social and environmental problems. Much global governance is conducted by and through meta-organizations. In fact, it is impossible to understand contemporary globalization processes fully without understanding the functioning of meta-organizations.
The central idea of meta-organization theory, as developed by Swedish sociologists Ahrne and Brunsson (2005, 2008) is that organized collectives of organizations require specific conceptualization because they intrinsically differ from other forms or devices of collective action – those comprising individuals like firms or administrations and those that are non-decided like networks and institutions. In this seminar, I will develop this central idea and its implications on the nature, functioning and governance activities of meta-organizations using diverse examples, from international organizations to national trade associations and local co-management committees. Then I will discuss some ongoing research about ecological grand challenges, meta-organizations and their roles as regulatory and transition intermediaries.
Dr Héloïse Berkowitz is a research fellow at CNRS, LEST, Aix Marseille University, France and senior researcher at IBEI, Spain. She holds a Phd in management science from Ecole Polytechnique. Her research deals with transitions to sustainability, with a focus on sectoral governance and collective action among organizations (meta-organizations), in various empirical settings from natural resources to collaborative economy or ocean sustainability. In 2022, she received the CNRS medal of Bronze for her work on meta-organization and socio-ecological transitions.
During the course 2022-23, IBEI has organised a series of research seminars, which normally take place once a week. Check the 2022-23 programme