Changing Organizations: Business Networks in the New Political Economy

By David Knoke | Go to book overview

2
Theorizing About
Organizations

These terrible sociologists,
who are the astrologers and alchemists
of our twentieth century.

—Miguel de Unamuno, Fanatical Skepticism (1914)

This chapter introduces five basic theories of organizational behavior: organizational ecology theory, institutional theory, resource dependence theory, transaction cost economics, and organizational network analysis. I briefly outline their main concepts and principles, discussing their strengths and limitations for explaining macro level changes. In succeeding chapters, I use these five perspectives as basic analytical tools for examining various facets of organizational performance and transformation. Just as natural science theories help us to make sense of a complex physical and biological world, organization theories are powerful devices for simplifying complicated social realities into more readily comprehensible conceptual images capable of yielding significant insights into basic structures and processes. Careful applications of alternative theoretical perspectives should better enable us to understand the organizational changes transforming the modern world.

These theories are rooted in the field of organization studies, which had emerged by the middle of the twentieth century as a multidisciplinary, multitheoretical paradigm. Their antecedents were the analyses of large public- and private-sector bureaucratic organizations by such pioneering theorists as Max Weber (1947), Robert Michels (1949), Chester Barnard (1938), and Luther Gulick (Gulick and Urwick 1937). Organization studies arose through numerous efforts to comprehend and control the phenomenal growth in scale and scope of organizational activities and their intrusions

-37-

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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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