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Organizational THeorizing - Texas Tech University

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OrganizationalTHeorizing
MGT 6381- Advanced Organizational Theory
Author: Mike Reed
Professor and Associate DeanCardiff Business School (Wales)ResearchTheoreticaldevelopment in organizationalanalysisManagerial/professional/expertworkNewforms of work organization and controlChangingforms of organization and management in UK public services
Early organization literature
Viewed organizations as rational, streamlined structuresSeparate out the values + emotions in organizationsLike Frederick Taylor “The One Best Way”Fused the individual and the collectiveSomewhat utopian?Do we still see organizations in this light?
We are at a juncture
We are in a period of “revolutionary” scienceNormal – puzzle solvingRevolutionary – Assumptions being challenged, internal conflict, critique, reevaluationThree possible responsesRetreat to orthodoxyEmbrace diversity and discontinuityRetell the history of OT
Time and theorizing
TheoryHistorically locatedConstantly evolvingAcceptance and impact depends on receptiveness of the academic communityTheory making“assembling and mobilizing ideational, material and institutional resources to legitimate certain knowledge claims and the political projects that flow from them”
Dynamism in theorizing
Despite ongoing debate, still a basis for evaluating new knowledge“Grounded Rationality”Negotiatedrules and norms for generation of new knowledgeVocabularyand grammar of organizational analysisPerhapsnot as ubiquitous as in hard sciencesIs the academic community an institution?
Historical Themes
RationalityIntegrationMarketPowerKnowledgeJusticeNetwork
Rationality
Logic of organizationTechnical function defines socio-economic location, authority, behavior of everyoneSocial order based on organizationNot randomly assigned, birthright, etcBasically, a rationally constructed artificeFrederick Taylor’s “One Best Way” approachIs this true everywhere?Dictatorships?Family businesses?
Rationality
“Human beings become the raw material to be transformed by modern organizational technologies into well-ordered productive members of society unlikely to interfere with the long-term plans of ruling classes and elites”What do you think?Is this a reasonable theory given what you know of modern organizations?
Challenges to Rationality
Simon (1945): Bounded rationalityAuthorReduced to rationality to individual cognitive processes“Politics, culture, morality, and history are significant by their absence of bounded rationality”Do you agree with this deminimisstatement about bounded rationality?Inability to deal with dynamismInstability of complex organizationsDoesn’t address problem of social integration andmaintainsocial order
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
Integration
Why do people cooperate in organizations?HR perspectiveManagement as benevolent and socially skilledDidn’t like tunnel-vision of rationalismOrganizations adaptto changes in environment to help restore equilibrium where rational model pitches “one best way”Organizations help integrate individuals into wider society
Integration
Borrowed Systems Theory from natural sciencesStructural functionalismInternalistfocus on Org Design...But external concern onenv. UncertaintyNeed the right fit between the two to surviveConflictsover valued means and ends into technical issues that can be solved through effective design andmanagementFrictional elements in an otherwise perfectly functioning system?
Integration
Can organizations’ ills really be fixed through socio-organizational differentiation/ functional systems analysis?Major output: Contingency theoryUse social engineering and flexible org designs to solve major institutional and political problems.DrawbacksSocial, economic and political reality didn’t comport to the theories.
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
Market
Ifmarkets behave in neoclassicalways……thenthere’s no need fororganizations.Fortunately for us, they don’tOrganizations form when markets failMarket theory tried to integrate rational and integration approachesRational: Bounded Rationality, Efficiency/EffectivenessIntegration: Organizations must respond to their environment
Market
Two major theories aroseTransaction Cost EconomicsOrganizations formed by internalizing transactions based on transaction costsOrganizations respond to environment to maximize efficiencyPopulationEcologyCompetitive pressures influence organizational designBoth:design, functioning and development as outcomes of universal and immanent forces – can’t be changed by strategicaction
Market
More attention to resource allocation as a determinant of organizational behavior and designShortcomingsDoesn’ttalk much of social power or agencyUnitarysocial and moral order in which individual and group interests and values are simply derived from overarching “system interests and values” uncontaminated by sectional conflict and power struggles.Noemphasis on community, public service, and social concern – all you have to do is respond to marketdemands
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
Power
Most overused and least understoodRoots (interplay of both)Social powerHuman AgencyFormer theoriesToo deterministicToo unitaryIf deployed properly, creates and recreates a hierarchy of autonomy and dependence
Power
Two perspectivesMax Weber – Theory of domination (Institutional)Machiavelli – Organizational Politics (Processual)Key difference between the two approaches:Processual(bottom-up)asks how people lower on the totem pole sway/gain power over those above them.Examples: unions? collective bargaining?
Power
Three faces of power:Episodic -observable conflicts of interest between identifiable social actors with opposingobjectivesManipulative – behind the scenes activity through which powerful groups manipulate decision-making agenda to screen out issues that may threaten their controlHegemonic – strategic control of existing ideological and social structures in constituting and limiting the interests and values (and thus action options)availableNo longer a human phenomenon, now ideas have power
Power
Field tried tosynthesize institutional andprocessualperspectives by looking at ‘expert’ discourses and practicesWhichparticular patterns of organizational structuring and control are established in differentsocieties/sectors?A key shortcoming:Doesn’tdeal with the material cultural and political complexities of organizational change
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
Knowledge
Previous approachesToo deterministicTotalizing logic of explanationMore micro-level than previous approachesLess rationalist/functionalist/positivistOrganizing as a temporary patterning of interactions and alliancesShifting networks of powerAlways prone to internal decay and dissolution
Knowledge
Organizations arePreserves of specialist/expert groupsLocalized knowledge storesMeans for sharing and acting on knowledgeKnowledge iskey cognitive and representational resource for the application of a set of techniques from which disciplinary regimes can beconstructedA strategic resource to be produced, codified, stored, and used to generate power
Knowledge
Theoreticalapproaches drawing on knowledgeEthnomethodologyPostmodernistapproaches to org culture and symbolismNeo-rationalistdecision making theoryActor-networktheoryPost-structuralist/modernisttheoryA Key ShortcomingPerhaps too localized – what happened to external environment?
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
Justice
Bring field back to the macro levelAttention to global issuesDiscussion of governance and control and “fairness”Several theories using justice approachNeo-institutionalismPoliticaleconomy of organizationOrganizationaldemocracy and participation in governance
Justice
Neo-institutionalismMore than just an aggregation of individual actionsLooks at rules that bind organizationsEmphasis on entities that penetrate organizationsstate, social class, professions,industryCentral concern:“culturaland political processes through which actors and their interests/values are institutionally constructed and mobilized in support of certain organizing logics rather than others.” (Structure)
Justice
Neo-institutionalism (cont’d)Secondary concern“complexoverlapping organizationaldiscoursesin which institutionalization is practically grounded and precariouslyrealized”(agency)Attempted to reconnectLocal with the globalOrganizational practices/policies with institutional rationalities and structuresNegotiated order with strategic power and control
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
Network
Has a major influence on the literatureMultiple definitions/approaches takenHas explained many changes in OECD countriesHas been applied tomanysettings (see p. 35)Talk more to system-wide changes than specific phenomenaThe big pictureemergence, development and impact of discontinuous or disjunctive change
Network
Three major research approachesMacroWide-ranging and broadly focused studies - theory of network-basedorganizations and societiesas awholeMid-rangeUsesnetwork-based theories to understand dynamics and outcomes of change within and between specific institutionalfields/sectorsAttempts to explain new, different organizational formsMicroIdentify, map and describe the highly complex networking activities and relations that lie beneath the surface level of institutionalized orders andregimesWorkplace restructuring
Network
Can be seen as a lever of control / powerShortcomingsVery different from older OT literatureAre they irreconcilable?Organizations have resisted the logical change in organizational formHighly centralizedDistant from local needsUnable to change rapidly
Big OT questions:
Why do organizations exist?Why are firms the same/different?What causes changes in organizations?Why do some firms survive and others don’t?Emerging issue?
The intersection
A highly contested domainAdvocates from each approachThus “Revolutionary” periodOntology/EpistemologyHow is reality defined?Positivism?Socially constructed?Critical Realism?Fundamental assumptions in approaches
The intersection
Agency/StructureHow are creation and constraint related through social activity?How do creation and constraint coexist?Agency – Humans create and reproduce institutionsStructure – Institutions constrain human actions
The intersection
Local/GlobalAt what level should organizational analysis/theorizing take place?Is there one “right” level?Individualism/CollectivismIs all organizational action/behavior just a sum of it’s individual parts?Can organizations “act”?
Where do we go from here?
Two options from the beginningRetreat to orthodoxyEmbrace diversity and discontinuityOr both?

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Organizational THeorizing - Texas Tech University