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date: 08 March 2021

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.

Keywords: organization theory, reductionist move, agency/structure dilemma, determinist approach, structural reification, conflationist interpretation

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