Obstacles to collective action during a crisis: A meta‐organizational perspective

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Hartwell, Christopher A.
Lawton, Thomas C.
Tingbani, Ishmael
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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Meta‐organizations form to advance collective action. But collective action can be more difficult to coordinate for meta‐organizations comprising governmental agencies or sovereign states, with system‐level objectives often conflicting. These challenges can be more binding during a crisis, where the responses called for are outside of the original reason for the meta‐organization's existence. We advance a framework for conceptualizing meta‐organizations that focuses on both internal attributes and external perceptions and suggests how each may help or hinder meta‐organization influence during a crisis. Using as a case study the response of the European Union (EU) to COVID‐19 and, specifically, to air travel restrictions at the outbreak of the pandemic, we show how meta‐organizations can have difficulties in responding expeditiously to crises, particularly when encountering contradictory system‐level goals. We argue that meta‐organizations must plan for crises during less turbulent times, developing the processes that contribute to the gradual creation of new system‐level goals.
Collective action , COVID-19 , Crisis , European Union , Meta-organization
Hartwell, C. A., Lawton, T. C. and Tingbani, I. (2023) 'Obstacles to collective action during a crisis: A meta-organizational perspective', European Management Review. doi: 10.1111/emre.12596
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