Module 1 - Introduction
Module 2 - Decisions by Rational and Rule-based Procedures
In this module, we will present a general introduction and discussion to decision-making in organizations. We will relate various rational system views of organizations that tend to focus on administrative units, or leaders of organizations.
Module 3 - Decisions by Dominant Coalitions
This module will give a more elaborate depiction of that model, and focus on its core process of exchange and coalition formation. Within organizations, you will frequently confront coalitions of interests, and you will come to realize that collective action and organizational reforms are impossible if you do not build and manage a coalition to get things done. Therefore, we turn now to Coalition theory. To relate this theory, throughout this chapter we will draw heavily on the writings by James G March (1962, 1994: chapter 4) and Kevin Hula (1999) concerning coalition formation.
Module 4 - Organized Anarchy
This module introduces you to the basic features of decision making in organized anarchies, or what some call a “garbage can theory’ of organizations. What do we mean that the decision process resembled an organized anarchy? Well, for example, some of them have a hard time coming up with their group’s platform and identity. Also, some of the group’s proposed solutions changed over the course of bargaining – some initially proposed universal vouchers only to promote targeted vouchers in the end. Almost all of the groups thought in terms of an identity and what that entailed. And they also thought about other’s identities and interests when trying to manipulate the situation in their favor.
Module 5 - Organizational Learning
In this module, we will describe the theory of organizational learning and what it entails. In the most general terms, the organizational learning perspective concerns adaptation and learning from experience. But how does an organization learn? Organizations learn by encoding inferences from history into organizational structures (so best practices into rules, routines, and roles), people, technologies (curricula), and culture (norms, beliefs) that guide behavior. That is, organizations reflect on what works well or not, and then encode that knowledge into its organizational elements (participants, technology/tasks, social structure) so it can remember.
Module 6 - Organizational Culture
In this module, we will cover organizational culture. We will look carefully at Gideon Kunda’s book, Engineering Culture, to put into question the organizational culture ideal. Within an organizational culture, actors make sense of their existence according to identities and norms, and these are often constructs afforded by the organization they are in. Think of the culture at firms like Apple or Facebook – all have an identity and norms surrounding their performance of it. As such, the motive in an organizational culture is the expression and fulfillment of an identity – a strong intrinsic motivator! An organizational culture entails normative (valued) and cognitive (implicit) aspects of organizational social structures. These are deep structural facets that guide interaction.
Module 7 - Resource Dependency Theory
The theory we will discuss in this chapter is Resource Dependence Theory, and it views an organization in terms of its resource dependencies with other firms in the environment.
Module 8 - Networks
In this module, we will describe how organization’s researchers look at social networks within organizations. In addition, we will describe how some theorists contend there is a network form of organization that is distinct from hierarchical organizations and markets. So we will relate two perspectives: a purely analytic one that describes networks within organizations, and a theoretical one concerning a prescribed form of inter- organizational association that can result in better outputs.
Module 9 - Institutional Theory
In this module, we will continue our discussion of organizations as open-systems whose survival depends on their relation with the environment. In particular, we will discuss one of the prevailing organizational theories stemming from sociology, called “neoinstitutional theory.” In oversimplified terms, one can think of neoinstitutional theory as arguing that an organization’s survival de- pends on its fit with the cultural environment. That is, a firm’s success depends on whether it adopts structures that are deemed rational and legitimate in the external environment; that the firm mirrors environmental beliefs about what a legitimate organization of that type should look like. Neoinstitutional theory has always been one of the harder theories for students to fully grasp, so we have organized the chapter to be a little repetitive. We will discuss many of the core concepts twice and relate them in different ways so you get a better sense for what this theory conveys.
Module 10 - Population Ecology and Course Summary
In this module, we conclude our study of organizations as open systems whose survival and success depends on their reaction to the environment. We introduce a 10th and final theory called “Population Ecology”. There is a long history of work that applies biological and natural selection metaphors to organizations (Scott 2003:117; Davis and Powell 1992:342-354), let alone to the study of society.
Final exam for the course.