Theses Doctoral

Projects without Project Ecologies: Experiments in Regional Governance from the Netherlands to Bulgaria and Back

Krumova, Elena B.

This dissertation investigates the efforts of a temporary organization, or a project, to assemble a set of diverse stakeholders to deliberate and chart a territorial plan for the Black Sea coastal region in Bulgaria. The project lasted two years and tried to apply the integrated method of regional planning developed in the area around the port of Rotterdam. It was led by a Dutch consultant and a team of Dutch and Bulgarian environmental experts. The main question the dissertation addresses is how a temporary organization operates in an environment that provides little support for its actions. All new organizations, but temporary ones in particular, have a high risk of failure due to limited time to set roles for their members, establish trust among them, and build a common identity. Temporary organizations have been shown to rely on role structures, identities, and sources of trust outside of the organization itself. Project ecologies comprised of personal and organizational ties built around industries and geographical areas facilitate their work. Usually the existence of such ecologies is assumed in research on organizations. There are few studies addressing the question how such ecologies might come into being or how an organization that lacks the support of ecologies might try to survive. Following one such case, this dissertation details the turning points in the project's strategy as its leader consecutively attempted to play the role of facilitator, recruiter, and finally, supporter of other organizations. In the process, he abandoned the associational governance model which relies on assembling "the public" through representative organizations. Instead, connections were made and mutual support was extended to organizations on the periphery - small entrepreneurial NGOs and municipalities lacking many investment opportunities. In this sense, the project leader acted as an institutional entrepreneur trying to carve institutional space for this and other similar projects and organizations. He tried to employ coalition building tactics based on common goals and current opportunities for exchange. The project's connection to previous similar projects even if they are in a geographically different region, as well as its efforts to link itself to ongoing and future similar projects, is what we call a projective path. It is through its temporal embeddedness in this chain of previous and future projects that a temporary organization can hope to achieve results and survive the slow and difficult process of organizing.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Stark, David C.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 17, 2012