the organizational sociology of art stinchcombe

News came that the eminent and well loved Art Stinchcombe passed on. Here, I want to briefly reflect on two of Stinchcombe’s most important contributions to organizational sociology – the 1965 article in the Handbook of Organizations and his 1990 book, Information and Organizations.

The 1965 Handbook of Organizations chapter – “Social Structure and Organizations” – proves that you never know what will become your trademark article. This edited volume chapter was a foundational text for neo-institutionalists and has gathered about 8,000 (!) citations in Google Scholar. It’s big contribution is to argue that organizations don’t respond exclusively to internal deliberations over costs and benefits. Rather, they exists in a larger “environment” and that you must conform to survive. Further, Stinchcombe argued for an early version of path dependence theory – once the environment “imprints” your organization, it’s hard to change, thus leading to a lot of inertia.

Organizational theorists also know Stinchcombe as the author of Information and Organizations, a book that expands on the view that organizational structure reflects a never ending attempt to manage uncertainty. It’s a book with numerous interesting arguments, some of which I don’t buy, but always engaging. There are numerous commentaries on classic case studies of org theory, the theory of routines, university life, and occupational structures.

This is only a small window into Stinchcombe’s work and we just take a moment to celebrate his work by looking back on a career full of great work.


50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!


Written by fabiorojas

July 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Posted in uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: