Texto ORG - Introduction to the Classic Edition The...

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Introduction to the Classic Edition The External Control of Organizations had three central themes, each of which represented somewhat of a change in direction for the field of organization studies at the time of its publication. One way of assessing the impact of the book, the evolution of its ideas over time, and exploring its position in the field today is to investigate how these three themes have unfolded over the succeeding years in both empirical research and subsequent theorizing. The first, and perhaps the most central, theme was the importance of the environment or the social context of organizations for understanding what decisions got made about issues ranging from who to hire ( Salancik, 1979 ; Pfeffer and Leblebici, 1973 ), the composition of boards of directors (Pfeffer, 1972a ; 1973 ), and what alliances and mergers to seek ( Pfeffer, 1972b ; Pfeffer and Nowak, 1976 ). The general premise was that social context mattered ( Weick, 1996 ), a theme that can be found in much of the research that Salancik and I did both together and individually. The importance of the environment for understanding organizations was a natural extension of the ideas of open systems theory (e.g., Katz and Kahn, 1978 ; Yuchtman and Seashore, 1967 ) then gaining currency. The idea was that if you wanted to understand organizational choices and actions, one place to begin this inquiry was to focus less on internal dynamics and the values and beliefs of leaders and more on the situations in which organizations were located and the pressures and constraints that emanated from those situations. In that sense, The External Control of Organizations was quite consistent with the ideas of situationism in social psychology ( Bowers, 1973; Jones, 1998 ). An emphasis on the importance of context for understanding organizations led naturally to questioning the extent to which leaders made a difference in organizational performance (e.g., Lieberson and O'Connor, 1972 ; Pfeffer, 1977 ). The shift in direction for the field of organization studies was an increased emphasis on the environment as a way of understanding organizations. The External Control of Organizations viewed organizations as being embedded in networks of interdependencies and social relationships ( Granovetter, 1985 ). The need for resources, including financial and physical resources as well as information, obtained from the environment, made organizations potentially dependent on the external sources of these resources—hence the characterization of the theory as resource dependence . Dependencies are often reciprocal and sometimes indirect. Therefore, the book is filled with network and relationship imagery, even though there was almost no attempt to explicitly employ network methodology to analyze data in the studies summarized therein.
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