organization theory ph.d. syllabus


I have been thumbing through organization theory Ph.D. syllabi online — in preparation for an upcoming org theory-related Ph.D. class that I will be teaching.  Today I ran into two excellent syllabi – this one by Tim Pollock at Penn State, and this one by a group of scholars at the Helsinki University of Technology.  And, we’ve noted this excellent, rather thorough org theory syllabus by Van de Ven before.

Written by teppo

May 7, 2007 at 10:35 pm

Posted in academia, teppo

3 Responses

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  1. Teppo,

    I am one of those who would likely become frustrated by the theoretical eclecticism apparent in Pollock’s Org. Theory reading list. But, as a fledgling sociologist, I have to appreciate the theoretical heterogeneity of substantive areas such as Org. Theory (which in many ways is a good thing).

    I have a question. Does the Natural Systems Approach vary much from the Purposive Action Approach?

    That is, empirically, could a researcher make use of the Natural Systems Approach, yet totally abandon the approach of Purposive Action?

    The two approaches appear to dovetail. What do you think?


    Brian Pitt

    May 8, 2007 at 4:04 pm

  2. Here’s my quick two cents.

    The natural systems approach seems to in essence focus on various behavioral elements associated with organizational behavior, and has its origins in Hawthorne-type studies (Mayo) and also theories associated with MacGregor (x/y) and the human relations movement more generally. So, behavioral broadly means that action is (or, at least this is emphasized more) a function of various situational and contextual factors.

    As for a ‘purposive action approach’ – I guess rational choice theories certainly are more ‘purposive’ in their underlying assumptions about human behavior (people do things for reasons, or, they have preferences), while natural approaches tend to, again, focus more heavily on contextual and situational factors. Now, clearly there is some overlap and interaction between the two, though overall I also see the two (whatever label one wants to use) as theoretically different (granted, highly idealized) approaches and models of human action and behavior in collective settings.



    May 8, 2007 at 7:47 pm

  3. I agree Teppo.

    True purposive action, i.e., as manifest in the writings of Max Weber and Ludwig von Mises, does not give short-shrift to contextual and situational factors. In fact, they are hyperaware of institutional contraints. I think this is why the both of them eschewed the mathematical language of rational-choice sociology and neo-classical economics, and focused instead on the verbal clarity of theoretical concepts.

    Thanks for your two cents!


    Brian Pitt

    May 9, 2007 at 2:42 pm

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