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The Collegial Phenomenon: The Social Mechanisms of Cooperation Among Peers in a Corporate Law Partnership

Abstract : Organizations performing non-routine, innovative, often knowledge-intensive tasks, for example, professional partnerships need a rather flat, collegial, and non-bureaucratic structure. This book examines cooperation among partners in a US corporate law firm and provides a grounded theory of collective action among rival peers, or collegiality. Members (partners and associates) are portrayed as independent entrepreneurs who build social niches in their organization and cultivate status competition among themselves. This behaviour allows them to fulfil their commitment to an extremely constraining partnership agreement and generates informal social mechanisms (bounded solidarity, lateral control, oligarchic regulation) that help a flat organization govern itself: maintain individual performance, even for tenured partners; capitalize knowledge and control quality; monitor and sanction opportunistic free-riding; solve the ‘too many chefs’ problem; balance the powers of rainmakers and schedulers; and integrate the firm in spite of many centrifugal forces. These mechanisms and the solutions they provide are examined using a broadly-conceived structural approach combining theory-driven network analysis, ethnography of task forces performing knowledge-intensive work, and analysis of management and internal politics in the firm. The author presents a theory of the collegial organization that generalizes its results to all kinds of partnerships.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 23, 2022 - 5:13:50 PM
Last modification on : Friday, June 24, 2022 - 3:40:16 AM

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Emmanuel Lazega. The Collegial Phenomenon: The Social Mechanisms of Cooperation Among Peers in a Corporate Law Partnership. Oxford University Press, 2001, 9780199242726. ⟨10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199242726.001.0001⟩. ⟨hal-03703224⟩

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