Understanding organizational boundaries

  • Kirsten Jæger Aalborg University
  • Anne Grethe Julius Pedersen Aalborg University


This article investigates various conceptualizations of organizational boundaries and seeks to establish a point of departure for the Globe special issue: Crossing organizational boundaries. It reviews literature that has paid attention to organizational boundaries in their own right and presents and discusses various definitions and categorizations of these boundaries. Because of the special issue’s concentration on the crossing of organizational boundaries, two concepts that have been particularly helpful for the understanding of cross-boundary interactions are discussed as well: the notion of boundary spanning implying the ability of maintaining and facilitating relations between distinct organizational entities and the concept of the boundary object, originally defined as a conceptual response to the challenge of understanding inter-organizational collaboration in practice. The notion of the boundary object has been a useful conceptual instrument for researchers studying the successful collaboration of actors with differing understandings of and interests in the subject of collaboration.  In the article’s final section, the different contributions to the special issue are presented.

Special Issue: Crossing Organizational Boundaries