Born in England in 1861, Alfred North Whitehead turned to philosophy after a brilliant career in mathematics, where he developed a philosophical scheme based on experience as the ultimate unit of analysis, rejecting what he called the bifurcation between mind and nature that had dominated philosophical thought. He also invoked the idea of concrete experience to connect to American pragmatism, and especially to William James’s work. This chapter first provides an overview of Whitehead’s life and times before turning to his philosophical views. It examines Whitehead’s notion of atomism and his influence on organization studies. Finally, it discusses three aspects of events that may help lay foundations for an event-based organization theory inspired by Whitehead’s philosophy: events as spatio-temporal durations, the forming of events through mirroring, and the open structures of events.
Carien de Jonge and Gail Whiteman
Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher known for his work on semantics and philosophy of science, was committed to Gandhian, non-violent enquiry. As an ecophilosopher and the father of the deep ecology movement, he developed a philosophical system termed ecosophy. According to Naess, the path to understanding lies in an interconnected set of active processes, which include cognitive and emotive components and involve a widening and maturing of the self, which he termed self-realization!. This chapter examines the building blocks of Naess’ ecosophy and its relevance to process philosophy in organization studies. It also discusses four of his key philosophical insights: self-realization, relationalism, gestalt ontology/perception, and the genesis of the Place-person. The chapter concludes by considering how Naess’ work contributes unique insights to a process theory of organizing.
Marta B. Calás and Linda Smircich
This article makes a long detour by taking multidisciplinary understandings of ‘development’ and ‘technology’ via Ethiopia and Somalia. It discusses several news items that illustrate the current state of organization studies and its prospects. Organization studies might tell postmodernist tales about these news items. For instance, a postmodern story might engage the contemporary discourse about time/space compression to observe that time and space seem to be compressed only on the side of the powerful — for ‘the other’ of this tale appears to inhabit an ever-moving space in which time travels backward. Foucauldian versions might genealogize the discourses and practices of ‘success’ and ‘development’. Or, perhaps, the discourses of globalization could be deconstructed by reading the binaries embedded in ‘Martian microbes waiting to bloom and blow up in our bellies’ through the blooming bellies of African populations whose life expectancy is going backward.
Daniel Hjorth and Robin Holt
Baruch Spinoza is rarely read in organization studies and figures in discussions on process philosophy or process thinking only occasionally. However, he becomes a most apposite thinker of organization and process in the context of ethics. Spinoza’s philosophy emphasizes both agency and structure as the active or passive modulation of nature, rather than individual agents in their status as subjects, or on structures as determining constraints. This chapter examines Spinoza’s philosophy based on three basic concepts: substance, mode, and attribute. It also discusses his ideas about God, Nature, ethics of coping, conatus, affect and affective capacity, actorship, and organization.
This article aims to revisit the classical body of theoretical and empirical work on the dynamics of bureaucratic power and control and to reassess its significance for the intellectual renewal and regeneration of contemporary organization studies. First, it examines the strategic sociological, political, and ethical issues that these works were responding to during a historical period of deep-seated structural changes—that is the period between the Great Depression in the 1920s and 1930s and the rise of the ‘corporate state’ between the 1940s and 1960s. Second, it considers the cycle of imaginative reformulations that these modern classics have experienced as the intellectual dominance of structural functionalism and systems theory between the late 1940s and 1960s gave way to the much more theoretically open and contested trajectory that organization studies followed from the 1970s onwards. Third, it evaluates the major theoretical debates that have emerged out of the modern classics and continue to frame the intellectual agenda constitutive of organization studies in the twenty-first century.
W. Mark Fruin
Business groups and interfirm networks, the subjects of this article, along with cartels, consortia, industrial districts, innovation clusters, joint ventures, strategic alliances, unions, industry, and professional associations, are significant examples of organized cooperation in business. Cooperation has been, and continues to be, a primary force for change in business and in nature. What distinguishes business groups and interfirm networks from other examples of organized cooperation are, first, that they are composed of legally distinct firms and, second, that they persist for long periods of time. Thus, unions and professional associations differ on the first dimension, strategic alliances and joint ventures on the second. Business groups and interfirm networks are long-lasting federations of firms. They have been relatively unsung until lately. Interest has grown of late because business groups are identified as playing crucial roles in economic development, and interfirm networks in innovation, especially when complex coordination problems overwhelm firms.
Geoffrey G. Jones and Asli M. Colpan
This article explores the evolutionary dynamics and organizational characteristics of the diversified business groups built up by the UK-based trading companies from their nineteenth-century origins. It examines firms such as Jardine Matheson and Swire, which remain important components of the Asia Pacific economy into the twenty-first century, and other firms such as Inchcape and the United Africa Company, which were once major regional players. A central theme of this article is to examine how the British trading companies faced the challenge of organizing increasingly complex businesses as they diversified. Furthermore, this article examines the strategies of British trading companies from the late eighteenth century into the twenty-first. It also analyzes the ways that trading companies organized their activities as they diversified in terms of geography and product.
Matthias Kipping and Behlül Üsdiken
The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the changing relationship between business history and management studies since the 1950s, with a particular focus on the contributions made by business historians to management research. It also assesses the potential for future collaboration among scholars from the two fields. The article's main argument is that while both were close at the beginning of the period, they subsequently moved apart. Most business historians are working in history or, less frequently, in economic-history departments rather than business schools or management departments. Business historians have their own academic associations, which are not affiliated with the major learned societies in the management field, such as the Academy of Management. The same is true for publications in academic journals, where there has been little crossover.
An examination of professional organizations and professionals opens up a very wide range of possibilities, as this has been a central and important topic in the sociology of organizations and occupations for more than four decades. There has been something of a change in interest in the past fifteen years, centered on the nature of professional organizations and the ways in which they are changing. It is that burgeoning literature and the questions posed by it that is the focus of this article. The aim of this article is to consider changes that are taking place in those professional organizations and to examine their impact on management structures and systems. The study of professions in organizations has gone through three, overlapping phases since the 1950s. This article discusses these phases in detail. It also assesses what happens to professionals' power and control of work.
Charles Sanders Peirce, the father of pragmatism and of semiotics, proposed a theory of sign that plays a key role in pragmatist philosophy and serves as a foundation for the theory of thought and action. According to Peirce, meaning is non-existent if there is no sign pointing to another sign (mediation). In other words, there is no meaning which does not generate signs from signs, in long teleological chains distributed over time in a certain direction (semiosis). Peirce insists that ‘the woof and warp of all thought is symbols’, that ‘every thought and action is a sign’. This chapter first looks at the biography of Peirce and his intellectual influence before outlining the key concepts of his semiotics—mediation and semiosis—as well as their process orientation. It concludes by discussing the potential role of these concepts in process-oriented organization studies.
Heather A. Haveman
This article focuses on the work of three scholars, Robert K. Merton and his students Alvin W. Gouldner and Peter M. Blau, who were part of Columbia University's sociology department, Merton as professor, Gouldner and Blau as students. Together with Philip Selznick, Seymour Martin Lipset, James Coleman, and Martin Trow, these scholars were the core of the Columbia School of organizational sociology. Along with sociologists and political scientists scattered across America and Europe who studied public administration, and sociology and business professors at Harvard who studied industrial organization, these Columbia sociologists pioneered the sociological study of organizations.
Yuan Li and Wen Haiming
This chapter argues that Confucianism sheds some lights on modern organization leadership from a processual perspective. The cosmological foundation of Confucianism is the dao and its processual nature. Confucian leaders, such as sages and exemplary persons, apply the dao of nature in their art of leadership. Self-cultivation is one of the Confucian core values because people living in a processual organization need to cultivate themselves to be able to deal with changing situations. For a Confucian leader, it is necessary to bring people’s behaviours and thinking onto the proper tracks, and to inspire the people’s moral self-rule. Put another way, the leaders’ art of leading appropriately is to rule between the extremes and handle things according to situational median degree.
Christopher McKenna and Rowena Olegario
This article reviews the four areas where a significant or growing body of historical works exist: reputation mechanisms and self-regulation, the reputation of the corporate form, the reputation of regulatory bodies, and reputational capital within markets and hierarchies. Reputation mechanisms are an integral part of the phenomenon referred to as private ordering. The state increasingly replaced the regulatory power of reputation by acting out industry regulations to control corporations. Technology and regulation decreased the role of reputation in finance and confined it to the private guarantee of only a few small intermediaries. The shortcomings of the historical literature on corporate reputation are addressed. Reputation intermediaries and corporations' multiple reputations with different groups hold the promise of developing exciting new research in the history of corporate reputation.
Michael Rowlinson, Roy Stager Jacques, and Charles Booth
A critical orientation towards management and organizational history has at least three aspects: first, a historical critique of mainstream management and organizational research and teaching; second, a critical view of mainstream business history and management history; and finally, an assessment and critique of the treatment of history in critical management studies (CMS). This article argues that a critical and historical approach to management and organizations would entail a reorientation, or an ‘historic turn’. It discusses the three aspects of a critical historical orientation to management and organizations, outlines what a historic turn would entail, and assesses the extent to which it can be said to be underway.
The Diffusion and Domestication of Managerial Innovations: The Spread of Scientific Management, Quality Circles, and TQM between the United States and Japan
David Strang and Young-Mi Kim
This article discusses the flow of management practices between two countries — the United States and Japan. Much research has sought to link explicitly or contrast implicitly these two organizational communities, for a number of good reasons: the size of each national economy and critical role of both American and Japanese corporations in global markets, the cultural and institutional distance between the two, and the degree to which the two countries have provided each other with organizational models. This article examines three ‘moments’ in the diffusion of managerial ideas between the United States and Japan. These are the flow of scientific management (from the United States to Japan), quality control circles (from Japan to the United States), and company-wide quality control (from Japan to the United States).
Christopher Wright and Matthias Kipping
This article reviews the engineering origins of management consulting. It considers the role of Frederick W. Taylor — the ‘father’ of scientific management — and his colleagues in distributing a model of management to a wider business audience. Next it studies the relevant roles played by early efficiency consultants, particularly on the firms that were established by Charles E. Bedaux and Harrington Emerson. It also discusses the development of efficiency consulting and the role of firms owned by the likes of George S. May and H.B. Maynard after the Second World War. This article concludes with a discussion of the downfall of their consultancies as (independent) organizations.
Robin Holt and Daniel Hjorth
In The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music (1872), Friedrich Nietzsche refined and intensified his thoughts on the profound problem of pessimism and the tragic. Nearly all of Nietzsche’s work can be read as an evocation and exemplification of Prometheus, a tragic figure in The Birth of Tragedy that breaches the world of humans and gods. This chapter examines the sense of tragedy in The Birth of Tragedy, along with genealogy, the concept of ressentiment, happiness of the last man, eternal return and will to power, creation and negation, and organization.
The financial crisis of 2007–2008, which spread from the United States to other parts of the world, gave impetus to a renewed interest in the concepts of contagion and imitation. These are concepts that figure prominently in the work of the French criminologist and sociologist Gabriel Tarde (1843–1904). Since the late 1990s, Tarde’s work has witnessed a rebirth in social theory. This chapter offers an interpretation of Tarde and highlights some of its implications for thinking about processes and organizations, with an emphasis on the distinction between organizations and organizing and Tarde’s contribution to contemporary organization theory. It first considers some of Tarde’s key ideas, along with biographical details and information about the intellectual climate in which he worked, including Emile Durkheim’s critique of Tarde. It then examines Tarde’s key notion of imitation and discusses imitative economic dynamics.
In his lifetime, Gabriel Tarde (1843–1904) was a competitor of Émile Durkheim and, judging from many contemporary accounts, a victorious one. Although his works were translated into many languages and were well-known in social psychology and the sociology of law, they were forgotten by the early 1970s. At present, there is a strong renewed interest in Tarde's work, to the point of some critics talking of a ‘Tardomania’. This wave has not yet reached organization studies; however, this article claims that it should. In the text, it first offers differing interpretations of Tarde's work that might explain the changing fate of his reputation. This article scrutinizes several Tardean concepts, illustrating their potential relevance for understanding organizations.
This article has two basic tasks: firstly, to extract from Simmel's sociology those strands of potential significance for the analysis of organizations; and secondly, to locate those elements within, and identify their significance for, his wider analysis. These are potentially conflicting aims. The former treats Simmel as a resource for contemporary analysis; the latter seeks to relocate those arguments in the context of authorial intentions. While the former risks the danger of presentism, the latter can lead to undue deference towards the texts. The article seeks to avoid either extreme. In order to avoid presentism it should be noted in the first place that it was not Simmel's intention to contribute to, or assist the emergence of, the (sub- or trans-)discipline we now call organization studies. Anything in his work of relevance to understanding organizations is the by-product of an analysis with wider, or at least other, aims, namely understanding types of ‘sociation’ (Vergesellschafung).