- List of Contributors
- Introduction: The Need for Meta-theoretical Reflection in Organization Theory
- Organization Theory as a Positive Science
- Organization Theory as an Interpretive Science
- Organization Theory as a Critical Science? Forms of Analysis and ‘New Organizational Forms’
- Organization Theory as a Postmodern Science
- The Origins of Organization Theory
- The Historical and Epistemological Foundations of Organization Theory: Fusing Sociological Theory with Engineering Discourse
- Feminist Theory and Organization Theory: A Dialogue on New Bases
- The Styles and the Stylists of Organization Theory
- Pluralism, Scientific Progress, and the Structure of Organization Theory
- The Agency/Structure Dilemma in Organization Theory: Open Doors and Brick Walls
- Modes of Explanation in Organization Theory
- Micro and Macro Perspectives in Organization Theory: A Tale of Incommensurability
- Economic versus Sociological Approaches to Organization Theory
- Meta-theoretical Controversies in Studying Organizational Culture
- Actionable Knowledge
- Theory and Practice in the Real World
- Organization Theory and Ethics: Varieties and Dynamics of Constrained Optimization
- Character and Virtue in an Era of Turbulent Capitalism
- The Future of Organization Theory: Prospects and Limitations
- Managing Organization Futures in a Changing World of Power/Knowledge
- The Future of Organization Studies: Beyond the Selection–Adaptation Debate
- At Home from Mars to Somalia: Recounting Organization Studies
- New Times, Fresh Challenges: Reflections on the Past and the Future of Organization Theory
Abstract and Keywords
This article reviews and assesses the various ways in which the agency/structure dilemma has been dealt with in organization theory. It identifies three major ‘moves’ for attempting to clarify this issue that will not quietly fade into obscurity as a philosophical curiosity properly consigned to the dustbin of intellectual history. First, the reductionist move on the agency/structure dilemma that simply reduces structure to agency or vice versa, but usually the former. Second, the determinist approach to the agency/structure problem that starkly dichotomizes the relationship between them in such a way that each, irreparably divided, side of this ontological/methodological dichotomy necessarily results in either behavioural or structural reification, but usually the latter. Third, the conflationist interpretation of the agency/structure paradox that directly collapses the latter into the former, and consequently treats it as a ‘virtualized reality’ only traceable in ongoing ‘strips’ of social interaction.
Michael Reed is Professor of Organizational Analysis (Human Resource Management Section) and Associate Dean (Research), Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Wales. He has published widely in major international journals and book‐length monographs in the areas of organization theory and analysis, expert work and knowledge organizations, public services organization and management, and organizational futures. He is a member of several leading international academic associations, such as the American Academy of Management, the European Group for Organization Studies, the British Sociological Association, and the British Academy of Management (Council Member as from 2004). He is one of the founding editors of the international journal Organization, published by Sage.
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