Managing to Facilitate Cross-Sectoral Inter-Organizational Collaborations: Findings From the Experience in Germany

Managing to Facilitate Cross-Sectoral Inter-Organizational Collaborations: Findings From the Experience in Germany

Yuki Kawabata (Chukyo University, Japan)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/IJSSOE.2020070102
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Abstract

The promotion of new and competitive industries through cross-sectoral inter-organizational collaborations are tackled in many regions globally. This study explores the management of facilitating collaboration with consideration of the planned approach to change based on change management theory. The “initial conditions,” “field,” and “emerging interaction toward the collaborations” are clarified as key elements for management through intervention. It is considered how these interventions are implemented on these elements. A conceptual model for considering comprehensive management of the self-organization process toward collaboration is proposed. In the case study, experiences of the medical technology industry of three German states are examined. The activities of cluster organizations of these states, which provide services to facilitate cross-sectoral collaborations, are scrutinized. The results of the case study are comparatively analyzed, and the modified conceptual framework is depicted by reflecting the findings of the study. The implications are then discussed.
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Formation of Inter-Organizational Collaboration Through A Self-Organization Lens

Network organizations are characterized by the strength of flexibility and innovativeness. Here, inter-organizational collaboration is a type of them. This type of organization can learn/adapt from the environment, perform flexible transformations, and create new organizational structures through self-organization (Baker, 1992; Miles & Snow, 1995; Knoke, 2001; Imada, 2008). Joham et al. (2014) explain that self-organization is “the ability of a non-centralized system to create a strategic response to a change in its environment” (p.2376). It is argued that self-organization is characterized by pattern formation, autonomy, resilience, robustness, adaptability, and dynamics (Wolf & Holvoet, 2005; Gilbert et al., 2015). Pyka and Windrum (2003) show that, in the self-organization process, small-scale interaction produces a “field” at the macro level; in turn, it influences and modifies activity at the small-scale phenomenon. On the other hand, it is also argued that the self-organization process is characterized by complexity because historical development is relatively open (Fuchs, 2003; Heylighen, 2013; Plowman et al., 2007). To increase the possibility of certain paths to be taken and others to be avoided, Fuchs (2003) explains that subjective factors are needed and presents a human intervention as an example. This implies “intervention” is required to increase the possibility of inter-organizational collaboration toward a certain direction, and “field” also influences and modifies the activities of individuals.

The approach to facilitate the self-organization process can be further scrutinized. Imada (2008) introduces the concept of goal-directionality and proposes that the process can be facilitated intentionally through intentional intervention. The intervention is implemented by a control center (hereafter, the “management layer”), which performs the role of supporting to facilitate the bottom-up movements of structural change of social systems, which appear to be equivalent to field. He shows that bottom-up movement is activated by changes in the environment and changes in the needs and values of members of the social system. In this context, the role of the management layer is “to read new values and desires in fluctuations, distinguish order parameters” (p.30). Moreover, the layer is required to determine the direction to employ and accelerate the synergy of the members by influencing the social system. This helps create an environment for facilitating spontaneous order formation by accelerating the interactions of people.

For further development of the argument, the view of change management theory appears to provide insight into a more systematic approach for directing the self-organization process.

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