- 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 provides an alternative historiography of the field of organization theory (OT). It follows two discourses — the engineering and the sociological — and their merger, in order to historicize the epistemological assumptions of contemporary OT directly back into the professional project of social engineering around the beginning of the twentieth century. It also presents the roots of the engineering–managerial discourse about organizations that dominated industrial America prior to the translation of Weber to English. This discourse was later incorporated into the work of early sociologists and management scholars. Furthermore, this article presents Weber's project on rationality, and analyzes the manner in which his work was interpreted by American sociologists. Then, it discusses the epistemological ramifications resulting from the nexus between the two discourses, focusing on two of the key concepts in OT: rationality and uncertainty. These were central concepts in the construction of organizations as rational actors.
Yehouda Shenhav has written extensively and critically on the birth of modern management, on the colonial roots of management practices; and on the Arab-Jews. Among his books are Manufacturing Rationality: The Engineering Foundations of the Managerial Revolution (1999/2002); The Organization Machine (1995); and The Arab Jews: Nationalism, Religion and Ethnicity (2002); Coloniality and the Postcolonial Condition (2004). Shenhav teaches sociology at Tel-Aviv University – where he also served as chair of the department (1995–1998) – and has taught in several universities in the United States including Stanford University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Princeton University, Colombia University and the University of Iowa. He is currently the editor of Theory & Criticism, and serves as senior editor for Organization Studies.
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