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