The sites of organizations

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Abstract

This essay introduces a new form of social ontology and sketches its bearings on the analysis of organizations. The essay begins by contrasting the two social ontological camps - individualism and socialism - into which social theory has been divided since its inception. It then describes the new approach, called site ontology, according to which social life is tied to a context (site) of which it is inherently a part. Examples of such ontologies are presented, as is my own thesis that the site of social life is composed of a nexus of human practices and material arrangements. The bearing of the latter ontology on the character, origin, and perpetuation of organizations is then considered, using an academic department as an example. Contrasts are also drawn with various approaches in organizations theory, including rational organizations, neoinstitutionalism, systems theories, and selection theories. A final section considers the complex psychological structure of organizations, working off Karl Weick and Karlene Robert's notion of collective mind in organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-484
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization Studies
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2005

Keywords

  • Explanations of organizations
  • Human practices
  • Individualism
  • Organizations
  • Psychological structure of organizations
  • Site ontology
  • Social ontology
  • Theories of organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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