Transformational Outcomes of Civil Society Organizations

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (monograph)
Degree programme
274 + app. 160
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 218/2016
The study is an explorative inquiry of the empirical world of civil society organizations. The thesis analyses their transformational outcomes in context of networked knowledge-based societies and emerging digital second economy (Arthur, 2011). Recent systematic surveys indicate an ongoing global participative revolution (Salamon et al., 2003) and the growing role of civil society - for decades under-researched (Anheier, 2004). The thesis focuses on a sample-case and it analyses five clusters of 21 case-communities located primarily in Finland and Hungary that may exemplify a broad array of civil society organizations with transformational dynamism. The collection of empirical data combined interviews, (participative-) observation, and archival research. The study deploys methodological pluralism (Van de Ven and Poole, 2005) and process methods to explore organizational change. The thesis follows an 'extended' realist view (Bhaskar, 1978; Tsoukas, 1989) by analysing transformational impacts (actual domain); sources and mechanisms of transformational dynamism (real domain); and yet emergent, transformational outcomes constitutive of associational societal kinetics ('future domain'). It allows for creating "ideal type" (Weber, 1949) constructs constitutive of the civil society players' transformational dynamism and social agency. The study argues that civil society entities are characterized by feedbacks of (i) association-prone configuration of structuration (Giddens, 1984) and (ii) continuous self-organizing enabling to "organize without organization" (Shirky, 2008). This constellation interplays with multidimensional changes including association-prone institutional transformations and horizontal and decentralized enactment, sharing, and multiplication of distributed resources. The association-prone institutional-relational dynamism and improved effectiveness of resourcing are mutually catalytic and provide the capability of social agency. They generate abundant social capital and a radius of trust reaching beyond boundaries of particular organizations enabling networking self-upgrading into project (Castells, 1996) or third level (Vitányi, 2007) social entities bringing about new dialectics of cooperation (and competition). Such collaboration 'without boundaries' has inclusive and un-fragmented character - preventing paradoxical transformation of intra-organizational cooperation into dominance-seeking inter-organizational competition. This constellation may generate associational societal kinetics and 'horizontal emergence' of knowledge societies through convergence among market and public sectors and self-empowering civil society that is driven by a new, digital second economy. These feedback transformations interplay with the extension and upgrading of collective resource base and the improved effectiveness of common resourcing operating as selective mechanism of changes.    
Thesis advisor
Tainio, Risto, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Management Studies, Finland
civil society, cooperative dynamism, enhanced effectiveness of resourcing,
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