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Mary Jo Hatch with Ann L.

Cunliffe

WHY STUDY
ORGANIZATION THEORY?
Chapter 1

Learning Objectives
To introduce class members.
To explain the purpose and approach of the
course.
To introduce basic tools of organizational
analysis theory and abstraction.
To introduce the three perspectives and their
underlying assumptions.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Table 1.1

Some Applications of Organization Theory

Structuring activities and designing organizational processes to:


Strategy/Finance

Support goal achievement & performance


monitoring.

Marketing

Align the organization & its brand strategy.

Information
Technology

Align information flows with work processes


& outcomes.

Operations

Support value chain management.

Human Resources

Provide a basis for HRM activities,organizational


development & change.

Communication

Design effective communication processes.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

A theory . . .
consists of a set of concepts and the
relationships that tie them together into a
coherent explanation or understanding of
the phenomenon of interest.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Theoretical Perspectives

Theories linked by similar underlying


assumptions, logics, and vocabularies.
Research adopting similar approaches,
methods, and ways of theorizing.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Theory
(built from a selected set of concepts to explain, understand, criticize or create the
phenomenon of interest)

analysis and
association

Concepts
(categories for sorting, organizing, storing information, formed from common
features of specific instances)

abstraction

Phenomena of Interest
(what is to be explained, understood, criticized or created by the theory)

Abstraction
The process of removing the unique details
of particular examples so that only their
common aspects remain.
Enables us to process and communicate
more information.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Abstract
All Living Things
Plant

Animal

Reptile

Mammal

Dog
Fido

Concrete

Bird
Cat

Spot

Phydough

Spought

Why Multiple Perspectives?


1. Help better understand and manage the complexity
of organizations.
2. Become more aware of the assumptions underlying
theory and practice and the reasons for doing or not
doing things.
3. Form a basis for determining pressures to act and
their relationship to ethical, efficient, and socially
responsible action.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Ontology
Ontology concerns our assumptions about reality
and existence
-

is there an objective reality out there or is it subjective,


existing only in our minds?

are our actions predetermined or do we have


freewill?

Epistemology
Epistemology is concerned with knowledge:
-

how we generate knowledge

what constitutes good knowledge

how we represent or describe reality

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Comparing Ontologies

Objectivism the belief in an objective, external


reality that exists independently of
our knowledge of it.

Subjectivism the belief that knowledge of the


world is subjective and that social
reality only exists when we
experience it and give it meaning.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Comparing Epistemologies
Positivism

we can discover Truth through the


scientific measurement and
validation of behavior and systems.

Interpretivism

all knowledge is relative to the


knower and can only be understood
from the point of view of
individuals who are directly
involved; truth is socially
constructed.

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition

Modernist Perspective

Objectivist ontology

Positivist epistemology

Organizations are real,


rational entities and
systems

Organization theorists focus on finding universal laws


governing system behavior, rational structures, and
standardized procedures

Symbolic-Interpretive Perspective

Subjectivist ontology

Interpretivist epistemology

Organizations are communities, socially constructed in everyday


interactions

Organization theorists study how people create and give


meaning to their experience of organizational life

Postmodern Perspective
Ontology - the social world is created through language & discourse
Epistemology - there is no Truth;
knowledge and power are interwoven
Organizations are texts - sites of power relations, marginalization, and
play
Organization theorists deconstruct and destabilize ideologies and
rational forms of organizing; encourage a reflexive questioning of
taken for granted assumptions and practices

Culture

Social
Structure

Physical
Structure

Technology

Fig. 1.1

A Conceptual Model Of Organization

Hatch & Cunliffe: Organization Theory, 3rd edition