Reconceptualizing interorganizational collaborations as tensile structures: Implications of conveners’ proactive tension management

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Abstract

Conveners, as the main organizers of complex inter-organizational collaborations (IOCs), experience tensions as they make decisions based on collaborators’ competing interests and ideas. This paper theorizes conveners’ tension management as their proactive efforts to shape the IOC processes–as opposed to reactive responses to emergent tensions–and examines how they are related to IOCs’ collaborative capacity. A comparative case analysis of two IOCs in regional planning reveals that conveners’ organizing practices that actively promoted tensions contributed to creating a more dynamic and tension-resistant collaborative environment, compared to those of conveners who tried to prevent tensions. Using tensile structure as a metaphor, the author theorizes about when and how proactively promoting tensions can enhance collaborative capacity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-183
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Monographs
Volume86
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 3 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

Keywords

  • Inter-organizational collaboration
  • collaborative capacity
  • conveners
  • organizational communication
  • organizational tensions
  • tension management

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