Weick on Organizations as Nouns

Over time, how an organization is defined has changed.  Traditionally, there have been common features of organizations that deal with their structure.  Scott and Davis consider organizations to be “social structures created by individuals to support the collaborative pursuit of specified goals.”  All organizations must define objectives, induce participants to contribute services, control and coordinate these contributions, and gather resources and offer products or services, train (or select) participants.  They also must find a way to coincide with the pressures of the workforce.

This definition has existed throughout many decades, but other possibilities have been offered.  According to Weick, an organization is not distinguished from other forms due to its structural arrangement.  “The word, organization, is a noun, and it is also a myth.  If one looks for an organization one will not find it.  What will be found is that there are events, linked together, that transpire within concrete walls and these sequences, their pathways, their timing, are the forms we erroneously make into substances when we talk about an organization” (Scott and Davis, 386).  Weick does not think of organizations as concrete structures, but instead as processes.  He argues that “the ways in which these processes are continuously executed are the organization” (Scott and Davis, 386).  Weick’s argument is basically that organizations are the collection of different processes.

Weick’s approach is considered a relational approach.  A relational approach is one that “celebrate[s] process over structure, becoming over being” (Scott and Davis, 387).  Weick further argues that the structures that do exist are only temporary and are constantly changing.  Therefore, they cannot be regarded as the important features of organizations.  This process-centered approach to viewing organization is increasingly becoming the norm.  “Recent decades have witnessed a proliferation of process approaches to organizations” (Scott and Davis, 387).  As new organizational theory textbooks and scholarly articles are published, relational approaches, such as Weick’s, to understanding organization will become more prominent.


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  1. […] Weick on Organizations as Nouns (blorgtheory.com) […]

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