Tensions and Paradoxes in Temporary Organising: Mapping the Field

Braun Timo, Joseph Lampel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Temporary organisations are time-limited organisations that are created with adeliberate termination point. The ‘built-in termination mechanism’ (Lundin &Söderholm, 1995, p. 449) can be calendar based, for example a film festival or aconference has a specified starting and end dates, whereas termination can be definedby goal attainment, for instance an R&D project that is terminated once the newproduct is delivered. Lundin and Söderholm (1995) map a life-cycle between the beginning and end for projects that holds for temporary organisations more generally. According to this schema, temporary organisations start life as a concept, enter a development phase, proceed to implementation, and then end with termination. Structurally, temporary organisations may take various forms such as festivals, organisational and inter-organisational projects, emergency response organising, and networks of temporary organisations. Some forms are strongly institutionalised, others are more protean. For example, film festivals or conferencesare institutionally circumscribed events that are not accepted as such by participants unless they possess certain standardised features. On the other hand,a ‘project’ is a label that is used by organisers to describe temporary organisationsthat can vary greatly in size and shape, from a mega project such as the Channel Tunnel, to the construction of a local clinic. Moreover, projects are temporary organisations that are used to perform tasks across industries that have little in common; not only traditional industries such as constructions or pharmaceuticals,but also creative industries such as filmmaking, theatre, or advertising, service industries such as consulting or software development as well as playing an increasingly prominent role in the public sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalResearch in the Sociology of Organizations
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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