W. Richard SCOTT (1995), Institutions and Organizations. Ideas, Interests and Identities. | Cairn.info

  • W. Richard SCOTT (1995), Institutions and Organizations. Ideas, Interests and Identities.
  • Paperback: 360 pages Publisher: Sage (1995) Language: English ISBN: 978-142242224
  • reviewed by himself  W. Richard Scott
  • Dans M@n@gement 2014/2 (Vol. 17), pages 136 à 140

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1Institutions and Organizations is the third text book I have written. The first I co-authored with Peter M. Blau many years ago—an early organization text, Formal Organization: A Comparative Approach, first published in 1962. I was Blau’s student from 1956-1961 at the University of Chicago and I owe him an enormous debt for inviting me to participate with him in co-authoring one of the “founding texts” of the fledging field of organization studies. I have recounted elsewhere (Scott, 2003) my views on the intellectual context of the time and the collaborative process that produced the book, and I have commented briefly on its intended contributions. But, for me, the lasting impact of the experience was recognizing that authoring a more generalized and programmatic text had the potential to exert a profound impact on the development of an academic field— defining its boundaries, specifying central premises, and identifying its future agenda. Talk about creating cultural capital!

2My second text was Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems, first published in 1981. It was the product of teaching an “advanced-introductory” course on organizations to upper-level undergraduates and beginning graduate students at Stanford from 1960 to 1981—and beyond. In my mind, the defining factor that distinguished this text from others available at the time—e.g., Aldrich, 1979, Etzioni, 1961; Hall, 1972; Perrow, 1979—was my insistence that the arrival of the “open system” perspective during the late 1950s had fundamentally altered the field of organization studies. In their earlier book, the social psychologists Katz and Kahn (1966) had covered many of the insights associated with this conceptual framework, but they had not, in my view, adequately described its impact on macro or more sociological approaches. For a volume edited by Marshall Meyer, I wrote an introductory essay to a collection of articles dealing with changing perspectives on organization structure. In my essay, I first offered my suggestion that, after its emergence, the open systems perspective collided and interacted with the two reigning conceptual frameworks: the “rational” and “natural systems” models (Scott, 1978). I proposed that as open system models arrived, they evoked varying reactions—accommodations and revisions—as the two dominant perspectives, formed under closed system assumptions, attempted to learn from and adapt to the open systems revolution. I then traced these theoretical ripples through the literature. In addition to identifying shifts in underlying theoretical perspectives, I also emphasized the expanding levels of analysis employed by organization scholars as they moved from more “micro” (within organization) structures and processes to those operating at the organization set, organization population, and organization field levels. The “before” and “after” transformations associated with the introduction of open systems models, together with shifts in the level of analysis, were utilized to organize my review of the extant literature—through six editions of this work (Scott 1981/1987/1992/1998/2003; Scott and Davis, 2007).

3My assignment for this review essay is to focus on the third text— Institutions and Organizations—now in its 4th edition, (2013), but I must begin by pointing out continuities between this and my previous texts. In all three, I have attempted to exploit the opportunity afforded by the tutorial text-book format to sketch out the central issues defining the subject area and to delineate the boundaries of the intellectual territory claimed. All three have also emphasized the expanding levels of analysis which, I believe, have characterized organization studies from the early 1950s to the present. Particularly in the latter two texts, I have attempted to identify the foundational assumptions and to expose the various underlying conceptual dimensions that have created the critical fault-lines around which the field of study has been defined.

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