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The Emergence of Energy Cooperatives in Germany, 1999-2011
This study investigates an important question in organizational sociology, namely the emergence of novel organizational forms. We take the under-utilized community ecology perspective, and proposes a new mechanism of form emergence: resource partitioning. We argue that during market partitioning processes that are driven by the oppositional identities of incumbent center vis-à-vis peripheral forms, the saliency of the relevant identity features increases. This results in rising social demand for the features considered as both relevant and desirable by demand-side audiences. As a consequence, entirely new forms with such identity features may emerge to serve this demand. However, the emergence of new forms varies across audience segments, illustrated here through the lens of geographic communities. Specifically, the founding rate of the new organizational form depends on: (1) the degree to which the new form’s identity features fit with the local audience tastes; and (2) the extent to which local demand for these identity attributes is satisfied by extant organizational forms. Empirically, we examine the emergence of energy cooperatives in Germany during 1999-2011.
Min Liu is a Lecturer in Management at the Durham University Business School, Durham University. She received her Ph.D from the University of Lugano, Switzerland. Her research interests include organizational ecology, organizational identity and categorization, as well as industry and market evolution. She has published her work in Organization Science.
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