Every group or social system has a boundary that separates it from other groups or systems and defines who is in the group and who is outside of it. Boundary spanning represents the actions that are taken by members of a group to manage those boundaries, particularly interactions with outsiders. Boundary-spanning activities may be a formal part of some individuals' jobs or informally carried out by members of the group. How a group manages its boundaries has implications for other group processes and the performance of the group.

Early research on groups within organizations identified two broad functions of boundary spanning—information processing and external representation. Information processing involves gathering and assessing data from outside the group and providing summaries and conclusions to members of the ...

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