Comparative Organizational Analysis: An Introdction

King, Brayden, Felin, Teppo and Whetten, David (2009) Comparative Organizational Analysis: An Introdction. In: Lounsbury, Michael, (ed.) Studying Differences between Organizations: Comparative Approaches to Organizational Research. Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 26 (26). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 3-19. ISBN 978-1-84855-646-1


Comparative organizational analysis once dominated American organizational sociology, grounded in rich case studies about organizational processes and outcomes. The Columbia school's approach to organizational research was exemplary in this regard. Following the publication of Robert K. Merton's (1940) essay, “Bureaucratic Structure and Personality,” he attracted a group of talented doctoral students to his formal organizations seminar (Crothers, 1990), the core of whom would go on to write dissertations, books, and articles forming the substance of American organizational sociology in the decades to come. Among those students were Philip Selznick, Alvin Gouldner, Peter Blau, Seymour Martin Lipset, Rose Coser, and James Coleman. While their work varied greatly in substantive content, their studies shared a theoretical interest in explaining intra-organizational dynamics and the unexpected outcomes of bureaucratic administration. Organizations, they demonstrated, developed “lives of their own,” quite outside the intents of their founders (Haveman, 2009; refer, especially, Selznick, 1957). Organizations, in other words, were adaptive to the needs of their constituents, but adaptations did not always produce the intended results. One of the unintended consequences of organizational development was increasing variety in the kinds of organizations that emerged to meet particular societal goals or ends. Thus, an inherent focus of this early comparative research was the explanation of variety in organizational types, policies, and outcomes and an emphasis on the ways in which organizations diverged from ideal types.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: organization theory
Subject(s): Strategy; Entrepreneurship & Global business
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2015 12:34
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2015 12:34
Funders: n/a

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