Boundary Spanning Roles: Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Boundary spanning is when people from different positions, companies, and locations work together. Learn about the definitions of boundary-spanning roles and communication, as well as about the importance of working together through examples of boundary spanning. Updated: 12/22/2021

Boundary Spanning Roles

If you have a small business and don't have as many technological resources as a large company, utilizing boundary spanning roles can allow your small business to flourish. As an extra bonus, it can also help large companies become even more competitive.

Boundary spanning roles interact with individuals and groups outside the organization to obtain valuable information to help the innovation process. Boundary spanning roles allow a company to gain more innovation information from other businesses. It's useful to gain insight from other organizations that you may not be aware of. Not just management is involved in boundary spanning; all employees can get information from one or more companies and bring information back to their business to help improve innovation.

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  • 0:03 Boundary Spanning Roles
  • 0:49 Boundary Spanning…
  • 1:24 Importance of Working Together
  • 3:07 Examples
  • 4:42 Lesson Summary
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Boundary Spanning Communication

Boundary spanning communication includes meeting with other companies for planning, informal conversations, and written communication. It is important for the company to maintain communication with different companies to help them gain the knowledge needed to develop an innovative product. It's essential to communicate formally through meetings, but communication can also be done through informal methods of communication. Using informal communication methods such as emails or phone calls allow the managers to communicate the information and still have the ability to concentrate on internal and external issues that may occur.

Importance of Working Together

Boundary spanning gives a company the ability to grow by gaining knowledge from external forces. Boundary spanning helps reduce costs and allows companies to share information. It's necessary for a smaller organization to be more open to gaining information from their outside environment because they do not have the same resources as larger companies. Large companies have the money to invest more in infrastructure, technology, and research. Sometimes large corporations utilize boundary spanning to gain even more money or competitive advantage. Smaller companies may have to join with other companies to have access to more resources.

Companies can reduce their boundaries by creating a partnership with another company. It is helpful sometimes for companies to merge to gain a more strategic advantage over companies. Merging is when two or more companies come together to become one company. Sometimes companies will join to create more innovative technology by generating more profit, learning their former competitor's strategies, and to have the ability to take on more market share. Big companies will buy out their competition, so they have a more competitive advantage and can gain more market share.

Another boundary spanning technique is utilizing a joint venture. A joint venture is when two or more companies come together to develop a project that may be too complex for one company to complete. Joining forces with other companies allows synergy to be created between the two organizations. Synergy is when two or more companies come together to produce something better than they would separately. Joining forces allow both companies to create a unique product and pull their resources together. A joint venture allows two or more companies to share resources and create a strong product.

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