- List of Figures
- List of Tables
- Notes on Contributors
- Introduction: A Social Science which Forgets its Founders is Lost
- The Value of the Classics
- Tocqueville as a Pioneer In Organization Theory
- Marx and Organization Studies Today
- It's Not Just for Communists Any More: Marxian Political Economy and Organizational Theory
- Weber: Sintering the Iron Cage Translation, Domination, and Rationality Stewart Clegg
- Max Weber and the Ethics of Office
- On Organizations and Oligarchies: Michels in the Twenty-First Century
- How Durkheim's Theory of Meaning‐making Influenced Organizational Sociology
- A Durkheimian Approach to Globalization
- Gabriel Tarde and Organization Theory
- Georg Simmel: The Individual and the Organization
- Types and Positions: The Significance of Georg Simmel's Structural Theories for Organizational Behavior
- Schumpeter and the Organization of Entrepreneurship
- Norbert Elias's Impact on Organization Studies
- Thorstein Veblen And The Organization of the Capitalist Economy
- The Sociology of Race: The Contributions of W. E. B. Du Bois
- Organizations and the Chicago School
- After James on Identity
- Reading Dewey: Some Implications for the Study of Routine
- Mary Parker Follett and Pragmatist Organization
- Peopling Organizations: The Promise of Classic Symbolic Interactionism for an Inhabited Institutionalism
- John R. Commons: Back to the Future of Organization Studies
- The Problem of the Corporation: Liberalism and the Large Organization
- Bureaucratic Theory and Intellectual Renewal in Contemporary Organization Studies
- The Columbia School and the Study of Bureaucracies: Why Organizations Have Lives of their Own
- Parsons as an Organization Theorist
- Sociological Classics and the Canon in the Study of Organizations
Abstract and Keywords
This article argues that Michels's core arguments about the nature of oligarchies in organizations, and research generated in response to his work, are not only relevant to understanding the dynamics of political organizations but can be extended as a useful framework for thinking about important aspects of contemporary economic corporations as well. In making this argument, the article highlights the parallels between Berle and Means's analysis of modern, publicly held corporations and that of Michels. Both analyses address the general organizational problem of ensuring representation of members' interests. In political organizations, it is the rank-and-file members' interests that leaders are charged with representing; in publicly held organizations, leaders are primarily responsible for representing the interests of stockholders, as the nominal ‘owners’ of the firm. In this context, the article considers evidence and research on problematic corporate behavior to show how Michels's work provides a useful framework for understanding these problems and for formulating ways of addressing them.
Pamela S. Tolbert is Professor and chair of the Department of Organizational Behavior in the School of Industrial Relations at Cornell University. She came to the ILR School after receiving her Ph.D. in sociology from UCLA. She is broadly interested in processes of organizational change, the role of organizations in social stratification, and the impact of occupations on organizational structures. Her current research includes studies of the use of tenure systems by higher education organizations, the effects of social movements on organizational foundings and failures, sources of variations in the organizational features of hedge funds, and the effects of earnings differences within dual‐career couples on spousal relationships.
Shon R. Hiatt is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational behavior at Cornell University. His research looks at the effects of institutional factors on entrepreneurial opportunity creation, discovery, and exploitation. He also investigates the organizational processes, strategy, and networks of firms in mature and emerging economies. Currently, Shon is investigating the effect of environmental elements and firm strategies on US biodiesel adoption and production and the impact of military ties on companies in Latin America.
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