The boundary-spanning role of a cooperative support organization: managing the paradox of stability and change in non-traditional organizations

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This project provides an interpretation of how one cooperative support organization, the Nebraska Cooperative Council, discursively functions to help its constituent cooperatives consolidate resources in order to better intersect with organizations in a larger bureaucratic system. In analyzing qualitative data collected through in-depth interviews, surveys, and organizational documents, we found the paradox of stability and change a revealing prism through which to make sense of participants' experiences. We work toward locating and describing how the Council, through its boundary-spanning activities, helps cooperatives manage the paradox of stability and change while protecting their core participatory ideologies. By providing networks of learning, promoting the legitimacy of cooperative forms of organizing, and protecting cooperatives' interests, the Council is an entity helping cooperatives to reconcile their internal requirements for democracy with the external demands of the marketplace.

Keywords: Boundary spanners; democratic ideologies; non-traditional organizations; paradox of stability and change

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Minnesota State University Moorhead 2: University of Nebraska Lincoln

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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