Inter-organizational Community and Organizational Fields.
This concept emerged out of the work of urban ecologists who focused on a geographically bounded collection of organizations that were made interdependent because of functional ties or shared locality. In this view of the community of organizations, the members of the community may be viewed as collaborators thus emphasizing collective survival over competitive behavior.
Hawley (1950) believed that communities of organizations could develop structures that were collectively beneficial, and improved the ability of the members of the community to adapt to the environment.
This concept of an inter-organizational community is a stepping stone toward the concept of organizational fields which is presented below.
(Scott and Davis, p. 117)
An organizational field consists of those organizations that together constitute a recognized area of institutional life. Organizations that partake of a common meaning system and whose participants interact more frequently and meaningfully with each other as compared to actors outside of the organization.
In the earlier concept of Inter-organizational community, the organizations were tied to each other by functional ties, however in the concept of organizational fields this is not the case. The organizations are grouped together by their subscription to a particular industry or meaning system. This allows for analysis of the organizations to be conducted not only in terms of connections and similarities but also for organizations that are dissimilar and disconnected.
Organizational fields also provide an intermediate unit connecting the study of individual organizational structure and performance with broader social structures and processes.
(Scott and Davis, p. 118-20)