Boarding the Same Boat from Opposite Sides – Organic and Mechanic Forms of Solidarity in Intergroup Collaboration



The necessity to cooperate across former and current group boundaries can arise from many different organisational circumstances – ranging from mergers to everyday production processes. The social identity approach has been proven valuable to highlight conditions under which such collaboration is most fruitful. A central proposition from this approach is that identification with the overarching organisational unit fosters beneficial intergroup relationships. This talk will cover results from an ongoing research project that is built around the idea that this effect can be mediated through two different kinds of social bonds: First, members of groups can experience solidarity because they share a common ground of similarities – e.g., rules, norms, interests, goals. This kind of social bond is termed mechanic solidarity, based on a classic theory by Emil Durkheim. Second, group members can experience solidarity because they complement each other. This social bond that is based on interdependence, complementation, and meaningful diversity is called organic solidarity. We propose that both mechanic and organic solidarity stem from identification and can foster positive intergroup collaboration, such that they act as potential mediators of the relationship between identification and intergroup collaboration. Which form of solidarity will be present to what degree is proposed to depend on the content of the groups identity – i.e. norms that favor the value of similarity or diversity. We postulate that both forms of solidarity can be present simultaneously. So far, we tested the model in three different organisational samples from a German university, a Taiwanese hospital, and multi-organisational sample from Germany. The results were in line with the proposed model.