Journal Article

Teaming Up and Out? Getting Durable Cooperation in a Collegial Organization

Emmanuel Lazega

in European Sociological Review

Volume 16, issue 3, pages 245-266
Published in print September 2000 | ISSN: 0266-7215
Published online September 2000 | e-ISSN: 1468-2672 | DOI:
Teaming Up and Out? Getting Durable Cooperation in a Collegial Organization

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Obtaining durable cooperation from peers and associates is a delicate matter in collegial organizations because members often value the ideology of autonomous professional action. This paper contributes to the explanation of members' solidarity and firm integration in such organizations. Looking at the ways in which work is taken in and assigned in a medium-sized Northeastern US corporate law partnership, it focuses on two forms of workflow-related solidarity, called welfare and patronage. The latter form, however, represents a threat of opportunistic behaviour by powerful rainmakers, that of defection by ‘teaming up and out’. The firm is shown to have found a structural solution to this problem. Using a network study of members' choices of strong co-workers, members can be portrayed as niche-seeking entrepreneurs in need of lasting and dependable co-workers. In turn, niche-seeking by individuals is shown to create a structure in which representatives of the welfare system succeed in preventing easy defection by patrons who would like to increase the size of their workforce. This solution to the problem of integration is thus likely to be a ‘Montesquieu structure’ that balances the power of different forms of status in this type of organization and helps the two solidarity systems to coexist via their interdependence. A multi-level approach combines interests analysis and network analysis at the dyadic and structural levels to look at this solution.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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