Organization Theory: American and European Styles: Why Are We Interested in European Contributions?

Author(s): Sami Kassem Source: Management International Review, Vol. 17, No. 3 (1977), pp. 11-18 Published by: Springer Stable URL: . Accessed: 04/10/2013 01:55
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their own organizations. administered manandscoredbythewhite man.S.but virtually me a lot about thepractice of management. writing. sulting. organizing: American whether theBeatlescouldhavesucceededwithout organizalenge"and askedmyself not by the mysurprise andscattered. work.I looked aroundand examined I was reminded of the "AmericanChalthe the the Americans. I ask myself: Am I justified in imposing Wherever in on innocent in ideas Western values and American indiscriminately my people applying my in disturbing lands?Am I justified their mypeople and changing way of life?Does it foreign in thefield? Is makesenseto preachcontingency modelsin classroom. Ohio.Focus • Actualites • Blickpunkt INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION THEORY SAMI KASSEM ORGANIZATION THEORY: AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN STYLES Whyare we interested in European contributions? to organization evolvedfrom in bringing theory My interest together Europeancontributions personalexperience: I movedto theUnitedStates I was borninEgyptandwentto collegethere. tests by thewhiteman. although impressive valuable. nordo they write forthesamemasociety brings theEuropeansceneto see who weredoingtheconjor journals. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . but I didn't economics.68.The trouble I. whoseworksremain not abroad but also at home. but by theAmericans? tionaltalent? Why is it theywere discovered I am alwaysconfronted in my behaviour. Finally.189 on diffuse I notedthat WhenI cameto Europe to teach.It does notmeasure how smart bythewhite you are but how whiteyou are. then formygraduate I ofChicago.S. Likert (1967). Professor Professor ofManagement. At theUniversity their own people. byR. ofToledo.A. As a collegeprofessor in theUnitedStatesI started theliterature on myown. 1977/3 11 This content downloaded from 111." Kassem isAssociate TheUniversity Sami Toledo. thenat New YorkUniversity. universalism yetpractice I the best often wonder! theAmerican Last summer an Arab executive way necessarily way? did on a questionnaire in the whenI showedhimhow his employees reacted designed sharply remind me ofthescoresblackpeople geton U. "theseresults withthatinstrument is thatitis designed in America. unknown soldiers unknown.Q. relatively only Thereis no professional that them a consultant by thevalue issue implicit I go in Europe as well as in theMiddleEast. Europeanorganizathantheir American tionthinkers areless organizedand less aggressive They are counterparts.As a graduate student first at theUniversity in litwith the American social science scene and with bored general organizational got quickly I foundmostofmyteachers becausethey tended to stayathome inparticular. I soon got reading and thefeeling thatEuropeanorganizational literature. U. erature provincial own systems. and their studying littleabout Keynesian of Chicago I learneda lot about Friedman'seconomics.A.At NYU Druckertaught in Franceor theGlacierinvestigation in Engaboutthebureaucratic learna thing phenomenon land.97. He said.

thereis a numberof versions As withtheirtraditional counterparts. lo-Saxonbias of organizational and management objectiveis to findout My central practices. structure. the"humanrelations" shool emphasizes people rather By contrast.For theguidelines equally theygive and ofintraandfunctionality thereality bothschoolsignore wellinevery situation.Likert (suchas Mayo.In orderto siftout EuropeanfromAmerican in currents The dominant letmeoutline someofthemajorschoolsoforganization field. century beginning thinking organizational thenameofopen-system under to thesynthesis andsynthesis.To summarize. antiof the form have taken of this the since thesis. Roethlisberger psychologists on Kurt Lewin in be found ideas roots can groupdynamics. of the unconsciousnotivesand Pareto on nonFreud on the importance Recent Attemptsand Synthesis: Contingency and Open-System Theories schoolhaveuseschoolandthehumanrelations It is obviousthat boththeclassicalorganization acfororganizational fulideasto contribute.McGregor. thenew trends to thefield. employee phasizessuchfactors trust and leadership. havebeenmadeto ofattempts curedwhentheygetsick?Over thepast70 yearsor so. havebeenmadebothinEuropeandintheU.Yet theydo nottakeus veryfar. analysis. developedby European: deepest rationalmotives.97. and open-system theories These novelapproachescame to be knownas contingency withineach.bothinto the contribution side and outsideacademia.The fact wereat leastthree reasonsin mymindforwriting literaAmerican is ethnocentric. we knowrelatively and How aretheydesigned.and draws its inspiration thanthe it uses thegrouprather In designing an organization. a number weremadebyEuropeansandAmericans answer thesequestions. employee-centered openness.189 on Fri.A.In viewofthetimeand spacelimitations. whether or not there thatis truly is a distinct Europeanin acthought body of organizational to has be necessarily cent.(2) portray In orderto (1) identify themajortheoretical approaches and (4) consider from in organizational out American Europeancontributions.These attempts alike. It consists thepyramid resembles modeloforganization The classicalor machine are which vertical of as setofprinciples command. to this answer question my historical and conceptual. and Dickson. ing. It acceptsformal thebottomup rather thanfrom organization of authority. thanengineering rather systems. ofa in shape. aroundthe1950'sandespecially theories. frombiologicalsystems than machine-like tion rather precisions.some recentattempts inter-organizational inthe1%0's.andtheAngture. on formal distilled frompractical organization bearing experience. interpersonal The "human relations"school (or the participative model) is derivedfromthe work of beWhile it is closelyassociatedwiththe work of Americanorganizational havioralscientists. that there thispaper. thesis. theory. general. accomodathanstructures'. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . thefact thatEuropeanorganizational literature organizational whileimpressive unknown is diffuse and relatively bothabroadand athome. Whatkindofbeastsarethey? little aboutorganizations.interaction as givenand emthetop down. its and Argyris).68. managed. A Historical Overview of the Field is and whatitsrequirements We knowa great deal aboutwhata theory are. communication) unity (such specialization.S. To answertheseobjections. as: delegation groupdecisionmakparticipation.(3) sift 12 1977/3 This content downloaded from 111. (whichtravels By contrast and and contingency bothdie thesis theory) theories). designand administrative Theygiveus guidelines work to not seem do tion. Moreover. (knownas classicalorganization theory "one best the with were concerned "human relations" theanti-thesis as finding theory) (known way" to designand managean organization. at synthesis conflict. from and starts as thecement thanauthority rather individual as thebuilding block.

Technology Theory \|ftS \ jy Ns.189 on Fri...97. technical and thenthe more generalopen-system sociosystem or partthereof is a to thesocio-technical anyproduction organization perspective According The two components arein mutual interaction and a social system. As theHawthorne Coal-mining are mutually interactive. foundout thatthemostsuccessful firms firms techa systematic betweena firm's mostfrom theclassicalmodel.the organization as an open-system made up of fivemutually variables(i.theydevelopedfirst theredesign conceptofthe definition of organizations. people. Structure Classical Organization withitslogic Theory \ \/ *X /2. She discovered relationship 1977/3 13 This content downloaded from 111.JoanWoodward. cial and technical requirements The South Essex Group of the Tavistockgroup. technology.68. twovariables. e. environment). Goals A*' /flfc Environment^^ / \&^ >F/ <$X \ \ i. letme briefly consider themone at a thenature and impact rounding time.a groupof social scientists by theworksof Marx. oftechnology combination socialreFromthis senseto regard theother.itmakeslittle in the it does to the manner determined as at work as by regard technology lationships being characteristics of the whicha job is performed as beingdetermined by thesocialpsychological studies haveshown. in her studyof 100 Workingquite independently weretheones who deviated the in SouthEssex. theimportance ofthefirst havesignaled outone or moreoftheremaincounting as moreimportant in deterthanothers (i.e. As we notedearlier.Lewin and witha technical viewof in merging thehumanrelations Bion . getting mining ofeach ofthesevariables. witheachdetermining pointofview. goals diagram presented low (Figure1). classical structure (variable theory organization emphasized in figure thehumanrelations 1 locatedon theupperright handcorner schoolem=1= 1) whereas More recent while at not dissociologicalattempts synthesis. interdependent I and have draw the bestructure.thesoStudiesandtheTavistock workers. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . >I< Movement The HumanResources The NeoEnvironment "*^/ witha logicof sentiment Weberians ^""^^^ _^^^ and cooperation Figure 1 About Organization A SchemeforThinking Styles Theory: European and American The Technological Imperative: A BritishSpeciality? The TavistockGroup . 4. industry technology theimportant of workin IndianTextileMills.havebeeninterested perspective in thecoal mining and studieson changing Out of their theorganization. phasizedpeople (variable4=2). technology goals and environment) ingvariables in the structure and function of Without involved the debate surorganizations.heavily influenced In England.Peoplc T HumanRelations 3.

technology. ithas singled out sixdimensions ofstructure. things uncertainty mayor maynothappen.another (Hickson.g. and their colleaguesThey feelthatthemajority ganizations viewoforganizations micro-internal havetakena limited environment grown up in a borderless and approachedthemas "islands unto themselves". 1972) support (e. the the of size was When the two were and effect variables controlled. Differing groupofBritish structure.Pugh. cultural thatpoliticalinfluences arepervasive. are ones the to not what seem sonalities. sinnorarethey thatgoalsareneither and Scott. by sign functioning inevitable there is nothing valuesare important. The AstonGroup from researchers Woodward. conflict effectiveness. arein their school" showshow imbeddedorganizations reveal studies More forces. and goal-achievement as appropriate against theyare a reaction Secondly. Woodward's are received propriate findings being who untilrecently have tendedto play down theorists interests. affects structure The Goal Theorists: An American Speciality? who are of organizations American students camefrom Another attackon theclassicaltheory Blau concerned withorganizational 1961. theyarea response normsforeveryone. 14 1977/3 This content downloaded from 111.Simon.that Big Labor." and also meansthepresence of choicesin organization desgin. in a conthat in or universal about informal (Crozier. Selznick.and thereis more thanone criterion is not only rampant ties. enrionmental and are constrained specifically. quite important they goals fortwo reasons. correlated.1962.the European "institutional of the comparative Using a combination deand how their own environments. nologyand itsorganization to organize"manufacturing mostapthere form oforganization seemsto be a particular firms. the data can who feel that American Aldrich. g.andPheysey.Big Government for but also natural. Parsons.and notedthat whilethere seemsto be no "one bestway structure. gular:they andperbetween andatother times a processofpowerstruggle departments competing through unofficial. goals (e. This schoolbelieves given consultation inpeaceful andoften times aremultiple Theyaresetattimes conflicting. groups complexorganizations and ones to mechanistic are environment (Burns superior stantly changing organicdesigns andBigpolitical ina worldofBigBusiness. of of normative decisionmodelswhichpresupposethedefinition theAmerican development foroptimization.1964).97. are be.First. ingquestioned by sociologists models in whichtechnology and vice versa.189 on Fri. Perrow. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . or to ignoreit altogether. Stalker. particularly amongAmerican the significance of technology. and service organizarelationship disappeared.This meanstheendofthe"one bestway.1956.1957. to each with considerable technical situation. goals as criteria The EnvironmentalImperative: Another European Speciality? theories camefrom Another lineofattack on classicaland humanrelations Europeanorganizawiththeongoingbut often-ignored tionalscientists who are concerned dialoguebetweenorAmerican of their environments.On thebasis of a sampleof 46 manufacturing is beThisfinding tionstheAstongroupconcludedthat there is no "technological imperative". evaluating organizational leads to thenoin Europeanliterature influences so dominant This emphasis on environmental on outsidefactors: as well as dependence whichimplies tionofcontingency. literature Goals represent a cardinalissue in Americanorganizational whichemphasizes oftheAmerican to thevaluesystem goal-setting society. par1961). and the case methods. 1964).68. Moreover. to draw therelationship and organization betweentechnology 1969) has attempted scalesof Fromitssurvey andfive oftheliterature.

189 on Fri. mainly They European who ocindividual theirsentience conceptto emphasizethefactthatman is a self-managing about the talks the and outside inside roles both Hjelholt(1972) groupsin organization. Identity.system in a thinkers thesetwoviewstogether was thejob ofa newbreedoftheorists notonlythegreat coherent variability acknowledges amongpeople.It thatno generalizations roscopicviewand push it to thepointwheretheyinsist . is a commontheme itinour organizational and how to preserve amongmany society. arepossible. Millerand Rice (1967) develop unit of in their differ theorists.We have seen thatAmerican organizational According of "one view of organizations tendto takea microscopic and believein theexistence thinkers takea macandmanage their bestway" to organize Europeancounterparts people.97. analysis. goalsandenvironments natureof bring . levelsofunitsall interact. in organization rather of In Universities.(becauseitwas concerned tions)andthehumanrelations Its conceptualbasis. 1havedrawna Europeanaxis(1-3) andtheAmerican on the most of in and and technology on structure oftheemphasis emphasis Europe.butalso theinterrelatedness as wellas thedynamic taskstechnologies.can be foundin theworksof von Bertalanffy (1950). environment.68.theymeeta political through counown and of neighboring of their in the various of radical governments ideologies variety tries.And in theprocess. with"know-how" andmoreconcerned thandescriptive rather to be normative It hasa tendency of orientation inviewofthegeneral with"knowthan pragmatic why".one whichexplicitly . review ofthemajorperspectives thepreceding on that touched questionthroughout that most one (2-4). however. school. European and American Contributionsto Organization Theory: A Comparison I have How does Americanorganization theorycomparewith its European counterpart? ofthefield. schoolheadedbysuchscholars ofthispsychological McGregor. zations. whichimport variousinareopen systems to theTavistock theorists.ithasinherited Evenifitstheories period. thanwhatgoes on betweensystem rather proponents 1977/3 15 This content downloaded from 111. also be considered.However. might and power thantheirAmerican withidentity concerned colleagues. thestratification The morerigid who liveinan open-class society. cupies oftheir own. within its nation and within that classes differences of the existence on organiamong emphasis theirsituations. Herzberg. with rather behaviour concerned It tends to be others. organizations According withthe theseandexports andintheprocessinteracts transforms them. way. to by their and beinglistened intoorganizations in gaining thanthelatter cessful entry ofthe"humanrelations" thetraditions haveevolved.S. mainly sociological mainly psychological leaders. organization a between literature one canprobably American Within thetheorizing. For improving Europeans are prown to engagein collectiveaction class-conscious or movements social parties. system. we have come fullcircle. and itsenvironment. product withman thanstructure. wholeswithan identity whicharedynamic andin largesociety his"mini-society" than Americans stratified andvisibly that aremorerigidly Luhmann (1975) andPusicinsocieties the themoreovert ofa nation.The Open-System Theory to Figure1. Likert. sociologicaland cultural larger school (sinceit triedto studywhole organizain theworkof boththeinstitutional is explicit withtheinteraction ofpeople). By contrast. thereare othersignificant aremore to notethatEuropeanauthors it is interesting For instance. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . who do theories liesinthepersons between difference Another EuropeanandU.whichis understandable is a as American American theory organization society. among withwhatgoes on insidetheorganization thanorganization-in-society.Most ofwhatcameacrosstheAtlantic as Argyris. distinguish organization much more sucformer is the school. a and However. putsfrom This view The psychological. indicating In Figure1. originated which differences people and goals in theUnitedStates.

we find jobs.A. Europe has been able to tryout some of itsnew ideas to pick themup. Amongthelat(processversus methodology. and Europe appliesless to them.189 on Fri.Thereis a rather striking bein thedifference invented on bothsidesof theAtlantic activities as.their Europeancounterparts focuseson thestructure. Europe contributed a living The UnitedStates Freud. Blau and Scott. rather right forspeand their out different Different cultures management aspectsof organizations singled have takena human-processual scientists cial attention. g. newfacts to upsettheknowntheories.Just Europeans one mustnecesofthought.A. forexample. andinfields structure).fortheir success thisschooltendto be associated criterion withbusiness schools. to thesinsofover-simlistin that whichis necessarily tablerepresents an idealtypology subject with and to the dangersof stereotyping. thanhavingto wait forthe Americans on the spot.Also.In themeantime. In orderto summarize to outlinein Table 1 themajordifferthusfar. so theEuropeansaremoreoften for research is not necessarily What theydo by way of consulting organizations.68. picture. sarilygloss over the internal in research Besides the aspectsdiscussedearlier.Etzioni. its job enrichment socio-technical is the group-oriented participative approach.Weber. power by changing difference in thekindof organization development powerprocesses. contrast to the is more concerned former. Conclusion: Toward a Global Organization Theory to in thepast.97.Pareto. and in theprocessdiscover grams. thereare few businessschools in of successfulconsulting ofsociologyor in independent foundin departments Europe. theory. tweenindividual-oriented the Laboratories of National Training groups Hjelholt's mini-societies. in theU. individual towards whichis oriented ter. can be seenas thecounterpart of"industrial democracy" management than structure with the latter.reflected and in the U. of modernmanagement Now it seemsthatalthough Americaleads Europe in theapplication ofnew whenitcomesto theformulation methods andtechniques.vonBertalanffy. consulting to it advice involve be action or it research public policymanagement: may may giving makers.andwillcontinue theorists haveneededeachother BothEuropeanand American fathers: ideas of the founding do so in the future. collective goals whereasthelatter proachfocuseson people and their culdifferential In contrast to thehighly oforganizations.Gouldner. do nothavesuch to their American as compared theorists. theydo. I also listedin Table 1 differences emphasis inresearch ofapplication.S. provided actionprothem into to new ideas and translate a pragmatic to out practical societyopen try AmeriIn stressing differences thatexistwithinthem. counterparts.on theAmerican side. plifications orientations American with there are orientations as European (e. laboratory. thetechnology and theenvironment 16 1977/3 This content downloaded from 111. itsleadwilltendto disappear theories and concepts. theU. Europeanorganization a tradition with business. GiventheAmerican in it. The former have optedforthetechnostructural approach.Dubin.However. Perrow). in thetwo systems variations (e. The American and thepower relations theyare less likelyto questiontheentire system Merton.among sociologicalschoolwhichincludes between inmycomparison a fairly offers different andmuchofwhatI amsaying others. g. ofthefieldand makea balcoverthetraditional can and Europeantheorists can jointly ground anced contribution to all of its emerging problems. the pioneering Marx.An important is theamountof consulting withbusinessorganizations context. Mulder). 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .A.S.Informal European counterpart in Europe.I havetried myanalysis the to organization encesbetween American and Europeancontributions Admittedly.Lewin. WhereasAmerican aporganizational one. thereare Americans As I notedearlier.

A.Having close tieswiththe businesscommunity businesscommunity . Emphasis 5.97. thantheymerit to thatdoes not recognizeany boundaries tiontheory betweendisciplines or countries.Having casual tieswiththe . Ideology .Know-how or technique. Analysis. I believethatEuropeancontributions to organization areless knownin theU. Focus on Microscopic(behavioral) psychology Organizational European Macroscopic(structural) Organizational sociology as a whole People: Their needs and attitudes The organization What goes insidethe system What is goingon betweenthe and its environment system Structural 4.g.and ultimately lead to a truly eventually globalorganiza.189 on Fri.which willinvolveotherpartsof theworld. Human Resources Transactional Accounting. Approach 2. Comparative experiments. e.68.Intenton demolishing the the "one-bestway" "one-bestway" 8. Giventhiscultural propriate setting as manscientists such formulation. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Group.Practicaltheorists theorists writers . Centralorientation . observation.Abstract 7. Field of Study 3.Associatedwithbusinessschools Associatedwithdepartments of influential of sociology .Know-why or theory-oriented oriented.S. I hope thispaper will sparka lasting dialogue. Control Graph . it is notsurprising to see American oridealforeveryone.American emphasizes equality. things power equalization. 1977/3 17 This content downloaded from 111.Table 1 American and European Organization Theory: A Comparison American 1. Examples: Approachesto: a) Job design b) Organization Development Sociotechnical Job enrichment systems Informal participative management Industrial democracy Techno-structural Human processual culture achievement and anatonomy as theaptures ofEurope. status-quo (conservative) Anti-Marxian Conflict-based Marxian 6. and theory evenin Europe. longitudinal. one-casestudies Harmony-based.strategy ganizational preach agement by objectivesand organizational antonomy. T..Intenton discovering . Methodology Functional (processoriented approach) case studies Laboratory surveys.MBO.

5 Emery.) Die Zukunft Amsterdam 11 Mayntz. in CooperativeSystems. 14 von Bertalanffy. R. of Organizations. (1973)."ASQ" 14: 378-397. Thorsrud(1969). Stalker Publications. Thorsrud (1975). " ofPowerandPowerRelations. (1975). PowerDistanceReduction Delft: FoundationforBusinessSciences.189 on Fri.F. velopment. 12 Mulder. The StalledSociety.3 : 23-29.London: Tavistock 4 Crozier. D.San Francisco: Chandler. (ed. derSystemtheorie". "ASQ.Roforoncos 1 Aldrich. and D. Democracy 6 Herbst.. 3: 140-151. Formand Contentin Industrial Democracy.T. J. Struc7 Hickson. (1950). and F. MarlisGerhardt der Philosophic. J. Phesey(1969). A. (1974).G.List: 85-107. E. (1972)." Order and Randomness "Varietyand Integration. Pugh and D. M. and G. 13 Pusic. L. and E. 17: 26-43. Hickson (forthcoming). Crozier.M.P. Policy-Making Elsevier. Education.F. "Interaktion. London: Tavistock.N. J. P. E.R.N. "Power EqualizationThroughParticipation. (forthcoming). The Bureaucratic ofChicagoPressandLondon: Phenomenon. De8 Hjelholt. (1974).C. Scharpf in The GermanFederalBureaucracy.N. 3 Burns. The VikingPress. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and E. S. Gesellschaft: Anwendungen Organisation. FormalOrganizations: A Comparative Approach. and W.London: Tavistock. 9 Lammers. (1964). Scott(1962). (1975). Socio-Technical Desijm. at Work. 18 1977/3 This content downloaded from 111. (1961). G.Canberra:CenterforContinuing Emery.68. D.Munchen. (1972). 16: 31-38. "The Theoryof Open Systems in Physicsand Biology. "OperationsTechnologyand Organization ture:An EmpiricalReappraisal. M. "Technologyand Organization of theFindings of A Reexamination Structure: the Aston Group'MSQ.97."Science. Group Training in Understanding "Interpersonal Society:The Mini-Society. (1971).New York. Comparative Sociology in 10 Luhmann. M. The Management ofInnovation. 2 Blau. Chicago:University TavistockPublications." Tendencies: Problems Mulder.

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