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Introduction to Organizational Theory

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Organizational theory as a concept is broad in both theoretical analysis and empirical studies. This paper attempts to narrow the discussion's scope by defining organizational theory as logically interconnected propositions, essential facts, and causal mechanisms (Haveman & Wetts, 2018, p. 2). For this study, organizational theories subfield include (a) the behavior of social organizations as a collective of individuals, (b) how each individual's characteristics contribute to the organizational success or failure, (c) the performance, success, structure, and survival of the organization, (d) the environmental effects including, tasks, resources, political and cultural environment, (e) the internal processes including culture, power, psychodynamics, and health of the organization, and (f) the epistemology and methodology of management and governess (Pfeffer, 1997, p. 4).

While a modern perspective reflects an objective view, believing that the world is a system that individuals can control through knowledge, a symbolic perspective views an organization in terms of rituals, culture, values, artifacts, and symbols (Parker, 1992, p. 3; Ramirez, 2013, p. 185). Therefore, theorists developed methods that relied on quantitative measures to support the modern perspective, while qualitative measures helped the symbolic view. Each perspective influenced organizational theory development and how scholars studied the organizational structure and design concepts. Organizations utilize theory to understand organizational behavior and adopt theoretical frameworks for strategy culture (Parry, 2011, p. 54). Organizational theory provides a foundational understanding of how organizational leaders can interact with internal and external influences, manage organizational power and create a psychologically safe and sustainable culture.

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