New Directions for Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects

New Directions for Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects

New Directions for Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects

New Directions for Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects

Synopsis

This is a comprehensive analysis of the present state of organization theory. The author traces the evolution and particularly the more recent history of the field, and its scope and content. He then considers the relevant literature organized by major issues and concepts. Jeffrey Pfeffer makes the point that the world of organizations the book surveys has changed in four important ways: the increasing externalization of the employment relation and the development of the "new employment contract;" the change in the size distribution of organizations, with a comparative growth in the proportion of smaller organizations; the increasing influence of external capital markets on organizational governance and decision making; and the increasing salary inequality within organizations in the U.S. compared both to the past and to other industrialized nations. These changes make it especially important to understand the organizations themselves. The author is a major scholar in the field of organizations and his perspective should be of considerable interest to scholars and students in the field.

Excerpt

I would probably have never written this book or the Handbook of Social Psychology chapter that was its progenitor had the decision been a rational one. Since the last time I had attempted such an effort in the early 1980s, the field of organizational behavior had continued along the path of increasing growth, differentiation, and paradigm proliferation that made undertaking any sort of overview or review of the field an "almost impossible" effort--a phrase used repeatedly by colleagues who were kind enough to provide advice and comments on the attempt. But within days of receiving the invitation to do the chapter for the fourth edition of the Handbook, I learned I had almost a complete blockage of the coronary arteries feeding the left side of the heart (which meant a "coronary event"--I love the language of physicians--would be instantly fatal) and, consequently, I needed open heart surgery. "What should I do about this invitation?" I asked my wife and best friend, Kathleen. "Say yes," she replied. "That will give you something to look forward to and a feeling that you will have a future." It seemed like a good idea at the time, so I did say yes, and following all of the principles of escalating commitment that we know so well, wound up writing first a long chapter and then this book.

The task proved to be a formidable one, and I am quite resolved not to do it again. Making sense of such a diverse field and deciding what to cover and what to leave out is invariably both difficult and an undertaking that can never fully please anyone except the author, and not even that person on a regular basis. When I sent out the book manuscript for comments, and when I sent out a working-paper version of the chapter (completed before the book, although who knows if it will have appeared in print before the book does), I invariably got what Bob Sutton came to call the "me, me, me" response. "This is a Rorschach test," said Sutton, and he was, as usual, right. The modal comment I received was something along the lines of "why didn't you include more [or anything]

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