Emergent Collaborations Outside of Organizational Frameworks: Exploring Relevant Concepts

Khuloud Abou Amsha, Erik Grönvall, Joanna Saad-Sulonen

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The broad notion of communities required a fine-grained vocabulary to investigate how communities interact with digital technologies. We can identify various constructs in the literature, such as temporary groups, coalitions, movements, communities of practice, place, and interest, that can describe different collaborative configurations. Despite the diversity of concepts describing the formation of “collectives”, we still need to understand how the formation of collectives and communities emerges through collaboration. We propose a vocabulary to analyze emergent forms of collaboration and the appropriation of technologies over time. This paper focuses on emergent, spontaneous, or unplanned collaborations facilitated by digital technologies in response to changing circumstances or problems. To frame different types of emergent collaboration, we borrow three concepts from activity theory, urban planning, and educational psychology: knotworking, self-organization, and the formation of publics. The paper examines these concepts in detail and describes their history and how they relate to each other, highlighting their qualities, similarities, and differences. Using these concepts, the paper aims to increase awareness of the complexity of emergent collaboration and its challenges and help designers operate with a more dynamic understanding of collaborative work outside established organizational settings.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationC&T '23: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Communities and Technologies
Number of pages11
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date29 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2023
Event11th International Conference on Communities and Technologies: HUMANIZATION OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES - Lahti, Finland
Duration: 29 May 20232 Jun 2023
Conference number: 11


Conference11th International Conference on Communities and Technologies
Internet address


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