Organizational Theory4775 P18

Organizational Theory4775 P18 - Organizational Theory...

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Organizational Theory
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Organizational theory has moved a great distance from the beginning of the 20 th century; it has an even greater distance to go. The narrative of the development of organization theory begins with scientific management (Taylor 1911), 1 continues through classical bureaucratic studies (Weber and Gerth 1958) and so-called "natural" 2 approaches (Barnard 1938), but then splits into two very different open-systems categories. One is a rational, economic/political branch, which starts with bounded rationality (March and Simon 1958), moves through contingency theory (Lawrence and Lorsch 1967), then (much) later blooms into the "new economics of organization," based on theories that seek to explain the existence and structure of organizations as solutions to cooperation or coordination problems; here the exemplar is transaction cost (Williamson 1985) economics. The other is a natural, sociological/psychological branch, which includes garbage can theory (March and Olsen 1986), population ecology (Hannan and Freeman 1977), and the new (sociological) insitutionalism (Meyer and Rowan 1977). How do these approaches differ in terms of levels-of-analysis covered, explanatory power, and potential for future growth? Following these two historical paths, two trends are clear: the sophistication and combination of different levels of analysis continually improves, and with each additional theoretical model, further puzzles are solved. However, with the deep chasm separating the sociological/psychological and economic/political branches, future prospects look bleak for these groups to engage in the type of constructive dialogue that could lead to further innovations. The first few organizational scholars used relatively simple conceptual models to explain organizational behavior, restricting their analyses to a single level of analysis and a few assumptions. Taylor focused on workers on the shop floor (individual level of analysis). While most of his work concerned prescriptions to improve productivity rather than grand theorizing, to do so he introduced the concept of the rational worker, who performed his duties in a sub- 1 To prevent citation proliferation, all further citations will be to the same articles. In order to compress ninety years into five pages, many authors have been skipped; these authors should be taken as examples, not a complete listing! 2 Here I follow Scott's typology(Scott 1998), categorizing approaches by two dichotomous variables. The first is rational/natural, indicating whether the approach is principally rational (assuming goal-directed behavior, or a "logic of consequences," at a minimum) or natural (assuming norm-directed behavior, or a "logic of appropriateness"). The second is open/closed, indicating whether it treats organizations as open or closed systems; I find this to be somewhat limiting, and will develop throughout a more complex level of analysis typology instead
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optimal fashion. His solution involved eliminating as much discretion as possible from the
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This note was uploaded on 03/02/2011 for the course BUS 500 taught by Professor Dr.spitz during the Spring '11 term at Deep Springs.

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Organizational Theory4775 P18 - Organizational Theory...

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