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date: 20 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article argues that the development of formal knowledge of organization can be understood as a double movement: from a narrow focus on work to a broad concern with productive systems and, at the same time, from concern about control to concern about flexibility and adaptivity, which may come from less direct control. Concern in organizational studies has shifted from a desire to understand organization as such to recognition of the importance of organized systems. In this article, attention is paid to the connections between models of flexible firms and the contexts within which firms operate. It is argued that the models are not of universal application and that the patterns of flexibility observed are a reflection of particular institutional conditions. Consideration of context is important in trying to answer such questions as why particular forms of organization work effectively.

Keywords: double movement, productive systems, organizational studies, flexible firms, institutional conditions

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