Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy

By David Knoke | Go to book overview

Pre face

Mr. Gittes, you may think you know what you're dealing with, but believe me, you don't.

—Robert Towne, Chinatown (1974)

The origins of this book lie in the three decades I spent teaching, reading about, and conducting research on organizations ranging from small neighborhood associations, to national lobbying coalitions, to strategic alliances among international information sector corporations. Two overarching themes integrate the seemingly divergent facets of this volume. First, understanding changing organizational behavior requires observers to view the U.S. political economy as a system within which money and power intimately interconnect across all levels of analysis. Organizations are not just the unitary, utility-maximizing production functions depicted by neoclassical economic models. They also consist of numerous social actors pursuing divergent interests and goals that conflict and realign over time. The collective actions emerging from such malleable systems are best analyzed as joint outcomes of market processes and political power interacting within and between organizations.

Second, network relations are indispensable for explaining the continual transformations of organizational structures and processes. Network analysis encompasses wide-ranging phenomena, from employee careers and work team relations to collective action in organizational populations. This multilevel scope, combined with an emphasis on recurring interactions among social actors, gives network analysts vigorous conceptual and empirical tools for investigating dynamic organizational change. The information exchanges and resource transactions at the heart of network analysis reveal how economic and political influences shape organizational behaviors, from international corporations forming joint ventures, to business and labor coalitions lobbying the government, to employees cooperating within high-performance work teams. The dual themes of political

-xvii-

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Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Changing Organizations - Business Networks in the New Political Economy *
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables xi
  • Acronyms xv
  • Pre Face xvii
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • 1 - Generating Change 1
  • 2 - Theorizing about Organizations 37
  • 3 - Resizing and Resbaping 74
  • 4 - Making Connections 120
  • 5 - Changing the Employment Contract 164
  • 6 - Investing in Social Capital 204
  • 7 - Governing the Corporation 244
  • 8 - Struggling in the Workplace 287
  • 9 - Influencing Public Policies 319
  • 10 - Learning to Evolve 362
  • Appendix - Basic Network Concepts 395
  • Notes 403
  • References 407
  • Index 461
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