Organizationality and alterity: looking for signs of organizing in an online community of practice

Longman, Richard (2023). Organizationality and alterity: looking for signs of organizing in an online community of practice. puntOorg International Journal, 8(2) pp. 222–248.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.19245/25.05.pij.8.2.5

Abstract

This paper examines the potential for alterity to inform organizing outside of formal organizations. Alterity is the concept of difference as a fundamental aspect of identity and social relations. I argue that current hegemonic, identity-driven explanations of organizing are limiting, and explore how alterity appears in an online community of practice called AlteritOrg (a pseudonym). Through the analysis, I advocate for extending the scope of “organizationality” (Dobusch and Schoeneborn, 2015) to include attention to alterity claims. I present findings from a netnography (Kozinets, 2015) of AlteritOrg, and demonstrate how the community exhibits four qualitative markers of organizational alterity: emergent structures, role-based activity, localised decision-making, and an experimental culture. The paper contributes to the literature on alternative organizing by drawing attention to Teal organizing (Laloux, 2014), which represents a set of approaches that are often overlooked. I propose that attending to alterity can prompt new questions and offer more possibilities for organizing, as well as encouraging a loosening of our attachment to identity. Overall, this paper offers a valuable perspective on organizing outside of formal organizations and highlights the importance of attending to alterity in understanding new possibilities for organizing.

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