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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: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40227332 . Accessed: 04/10/2013 01:55
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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.A.A. I soon got reading and thefeeling thatEuropeanorganizational literature. organizing: American whether theBeatlescouldhavesucceededwithout organizalenge"and askedmyself not by the British.189 on Fri. writing. and their studying littleabout Keynesian of Chicago I learneda lot about Friedman'seconomics.At NYU Druckertaught in Franceor theGlacierinvestigation in Engaboutthebureaucratic learna thing phenomenon land. work. Ohio. Europeanorganizathantheir American tionthinkers areless organizedand less aggressive They are counterparts.S. relatively only Thereis no professional that them alltogether.to mysurprise andscattered. tests by thewhiteman.but virtually me a lot about thepractice of management. At theUniversity their own people. nordo they write forthesamemasociety brings theEuropeansceneto see who weredoingtheconjor journals.It does notmeasure how smart bythewhite you are but how whiteyou are.S. Likert (1967). 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.as a consultant by thevalue issue implicit I go in Europe as well as in theMiddleEast. byR. "theseresults withthatinstrument is thatitis designed in America. erature provincial own systems.97.68.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. 1977/3 11 This content downloaded from 111. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Q. ofToledo. but I didn't economics.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. their own organizations. whoseworksremain not abroad but also at home. He said.is diffuse I notedthat WhenI cameto Europe to teach. Finally. U. but by theAmericans? tionaltalent? Why is it theywere discovered I am alwaysconfronted in my behaviour.The trouble I. administered manandscoredbythewhite man. As a collegeprofessor in theUnitedStatesI started theliterature on myown." Kassem isAssociate TheUniversity Sami Toledo. Professor Professor ofManagement. sulting. thenat New YorkUniversity. although impressive valuable. then formygraduate I ofChicago.I looked aroundand examined I was reminded of the "AmericanChalthe the the Americans. unknown soldiers unknown.

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

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

ingquestioned by sociologists models in whichtechnology and vice versa. Perrow.189 on Fri. in a conthat in or universal about informal (Crozier. and the case methods. of of normative decisionmodelswhichpresupposethedefinition theAmerican development foroptimization. Stalker. Differing groupofBritish structure. technology. Moreover. and service organizarelationship disappeared.Pugh. 14 1977/3 This content downloaded from 111. the data can who feel that American Aldrich.Big Government for but also natural. particularly amongAmerican the significance of technology. and goal-achievement as appropriate against theyare a reaction Secondly. literature Goals represent a cardinalissue in Americanorganizational whichemphasizes oftheAmerican to thevaluesystem goal-setting society. ithas singled out sixdimensions ofstructure. 1972) support (e.the European "institutional of the comparative Using a combination deand how their own environments.68.First. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . are ones the to not what seem sonalities. by sign functioning inevitable there is nothing valuesare important. gular:they andperbetween andatother times a processofpowerstruggle departments competing through unofficial.1964). quite important they goals fortwo reasons. cultural thatpoliticalinfluences arepervasive. things uncertainty mayor maynothappen.1962.another (Hickson. nologyand itsorganization to organize"manufacturing mostapthere form oforganization seemsto be a particular firms. The AstonGroup from researchers Woodward.that Big Labor. par1961).97.1956. sinnorarethey thatgoalsareneither and Scott. arein their school" showshow imbeddedorganizations reveal studies More forces." and also meansthepresence of choicesin organization desgin. evaluating organizational leads to thenoin Europeanliterature influences so dominant This emphasis on environmental on outsidefactors: as well as dependence whichimplies tionofcontingency. conflict effectiveness.g.and notedthat whilethere seemsto be no "one bestway structure.This meanstheendofthe"one bestway. or to ignoreit altogether. 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. g. 1964). Woodward's are received propriate findings being who untilrecently have tendedto play down theorists interests.andPheysey. correlated. affects structure The Goal Theorists: An American Speciality? who are of organizations American students camefrom Another attackon theclassicaltheory Blau concerned withorganizational 1961. This schoolbelieves given consultation inpeaceful andoften times aremultiple Theyaresetattimes conflicting. goals (e.On thebasis of a sampleof 46 manufacturing is beThisfinding tionstheAstongroupconcludedthat there is no "technological imperative". are be. to each with considerable technical situation. and their colleaguesThey feelthatthemajority ganizations viewoforganizations micro-internal havetakena limited environment grown up in a borderless and approachedthemas "islands unto themselves". the the of size was When the two were and effect variables controlled.1957. to draw therelationship and organization betweentechnology 1969) has attempted scalesof Fromitssurvey andfive oftheliterature. groups complexorganizations and ones to mechanistic are environment (Burns superior stantly changing organicdesigns andBigpolitical ina worldofBigBusiness. enrionmental and are constrained specifically.and thereis more thanone criterion is not only rampant ties. theyarea response normsforeveryone.Simon. Selznick. Parsons.

within its nation and within that classes differences of the existence on organiamong emphasis theirsituations.can be foundin theworksof von Bertalanffy (1950). and itsenvironment. originated which differences people and goals in theUnitedStates.Most ofwhatcameacrosstheAtlantic as Argyris. arepossible. among withwhatgoes on insidetheorganization thanorganization-in-society.And in theprocess. putsfrom This view The psychological. Likert. product withman thanstructure. zations. Identity.system in a thinkers thesetwoviewstogether was thejob ofa newbreedoftheorists notonlythegreat coherent variability acknowledges amongpeople. 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. sociologicaland cultural larger school (sinceit triedto studywhole organizain theworkof boththeinstitutional is explicit withtheinteraction ofpeople). school. distinguish organization much more sucformer is the school. thanwhatgoes on betweensystem rather proponents 1977/3 15 This content downloaded from 111. organizations According withthe theseandexports andintheprocessinteracts transforms them. to by their and beinglistened intoorganizations in gaining thanthelatter cessful entry ofthe"humanrelations" thetraditions haveevolved. however.(becauseitwas concerned tions)andthehumanrelations Its conceptualbasis. with rather behaviour concerned It tends to be others.68. is a commontheme itinour organizational and how to preserve amongmany society. system. goalsandenvironments natureof thesevariables. who do theories liesinthepersons between difference Another EuropeanandU.S. indicating In Figure1. Herzberg. might and power thantheirAmerican withidentity concerned colleagues. Millerand Rice (1967) develop unit of in their differ theorists. review ofthemajorperspectives thepreceding on that touched questionthroughout that most one (2-4). 1havedrawna Europeanaxis(1-3) andtheAmerican on the most of in and and technology on structure oftheemphasis emphasis Europe.whichis understandable is a as American American theory organization society. thereare othersignificant aremore to notethatEuropeanauthors it is interesting For instance. wholeswithan identity whicharedynamic andin largesociety his"mini-society" than Americans stratified andvisibly that aremorerigidly Luhmann (1975) andPusicinsocieties the themoreovert ofa nation. whichimport variousinareopen systems to theTavistock theorists. also be considered.However. cupies oftheir own. thestratification The morerigid who liveinan open-class society. in organization rather of In Universities.to bring . For improving Europeans are prown to engagein collectiveaction class-conscious or movements social parties.The Open-System Theory to Figure1. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .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. mainly sociological mainly psychological leaders.theymeeta political through counown and of neighboring of their in the various of radical governments ideologies variety tries.97.189 on Fri. European and American Contributionsto Organization Theory: A Comparison I have How does Americanorganization theorycomparewith its European counterpart? ofthefield. environment.It thatno generalizations roscopicviewand push it to thepointwheretheyinsist . By contrast. levelsofunitsall interact.ithasinherited Evenifitstheories period.butalso theinterrelatedness as wellas thedynamic taskstechnologies. schoolheadedbysuchscholars ofthispsychological McGregor. way. organization a between literature one canprobably American Within thetheorizing. a and However. analysis. with"know-how" andmoreconcerned thandescriptive rather to be normative It hasa tendency of orientation inviewofthegeneral with"knowthan pragmatic why". we have come fullcircle.one whichexplicitly .

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

Ideology .Table 1 American and European Organization Theory: A Comparison American 1. Methodology Functional (processoriented approach) case studies Laboratory surveys. Centralorientation .189 on Fri.Having close tieswiththe businesscommunity businesscommunity . 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. Human Resources Transactional Accounting.strategy ganizational preach agement by objectivesand organizational antonomy.Know-why or theory-oriented oriented. Emphasis 5. I believethatEuropeancontributions to organization areless knownin theU.which willinvolveotherpartsof theworld. thantheymerit to be. Control Graph .Practicaltheorists theorists writers .Abstract 7.S.Know-how or technique.68. observation.one thatdoes not recognizeany boundaries tiontheory betweendisciplines or countries.Intenton demolishing the the "one-bestway" "one-bestway" 8.g.97. 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. 1977/3 17 This content downloaded from 111.and ultimately lead to a truly eventually globalorganiza. 4 Oct 2013 01:55:01 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Field of Study 3. e. A. Comparative experiments. Group. it is notsurprising to see American oridealforeveryone. longitudinal.Intenton discovering . status-quo (conservative) Anti-Marxian Conflict-based Marxian 6.Having casual tieswiththe . Approach 2.Associatedwithbusinessschools Associatedwithdepartments of influential of sociology .MBO. one-casestudies Harmony-based. Giventhiscultural propriate setting as manscientists such formulation. T. Analysis.American emphasizes equality. and theory evenin Europe. I hope thispaper will sparka lasting dialogue.. things power equalization.

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

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