Are Thompson’s Levels a Good Model?

In his work Organizations in Action, James D. Thompson attempts to reconcile rational, natural, and open system perspectives on the basis of three levels within organizations.  The first is the technical level, which carries out production functions and encompasses the rational system perspective.  The second is the managerial level, which designs and controls how the organization is run and brings in the natural system perspective.  Finally, the institutional level relates the organization to the greater environment, similar to an open systems perspective…At least this is what Thompson argues… Continue reading


There’s a New Form in Town

The M-form (a.k.a. multi-divisional) type of corporate governance began to replace the U-form post WWI. (Scott & Davis) The old U-form, which was found in companies like railroads and large industrial firms, was becoming outdated. Thus, firms like du Pont, GM, Sears, and Standard Oil decided to create a new form. It consists of a general office HQ and several regional divisions, each of which performed different functions. The form was found to perform well in diverse markets. The M-form describes a type of organizational structure consisting of a relatively large number of relatively small units, which are controlled mainly by the setting of goals from a corporate headquarters. By the late 1970s, nearly 9 out of 10 companies utilized the M-form concept to divide the company into divisions based on the output produced. (Scott & Davis) Continue reading

Organizational Populations: Conceptualizing a Sublevel of the Ecological Level of Organizational Analysis

Organizational Populations

The population of organizations is one of three distinct sublevels within the ecological level of organizational analysis.  It essentially identifies groups of organizations that are similar in some aspect.  W. Richard Scott and Gerald F. Davis in Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open System Perspectives equate organizational populations to biological species, arguing that in both cases “the most relevant occupants of the environment are other actors of the same kind” (Scott and Davis, 116).  These similar organizations compete most directly for limited resources, thus being the primary source of competition.  However, due to their similarities, these organizations may also occasionally associate and cooperate in order to protect their mutual interests, as well as look to one another for guidance on proper protocol.  Each organizational population is distinct and can be described based on various features that are unique to that population.

Continue reading

Anatomy of a “concept” for conceptography

A student asked me to describe more what goes into a concept for the conceptography project.

The inspiration for this is the research tool called the annotated bibliography. The AB works effectively when you have ot integrate and keep trac of a wide variety of sources.  I find it a key research tool and technique to use between reading and writing papers.  The AB serves as the connective tissue of your thinking.

The conceptography is designed to allow you to build your own connective tissue between reading the book, Organizations and Organizing and writing across the class, on the blog and in your papers.

You may have two questions: Continue reading