Essentially oriented direction - Sociology of organizations

Extremely Orientated Direction

Among the essentially oriented theories, structural and functional analysis should be considered first, since it gives the widest understanding of organization as a system functioning among other social systems and as subsystems of systems of higher levels. It should be considered that the structural and functional explanation of society is largely based on a biological analogy, hypothetically comparing the existence of social systems with the existence of organisms in the environment. Just as the physical environment determines the requirements, the fulfillment of which is a necessary condition for the survival of the organism, so the environment of the social system, consisting of other social systems, makes it adapt to its requirements. Therefore, the elements of the social system are functional insofar as they contribute to its survival.

The main representatives of structural and functional analysis are American sociologists T. Parsons and R. Merton. According to Parsons, the survival of any system is possible when it implements (its subsystems) four functions - adaptation, goal-achievement, integration and latency (sample reproduction). To this concept, known as AGIL-paradigm, Parsons repeatedly returned and refined it, considering the systems of action and their social systems of various nature and different social levels. Let's imagine two variants of the concept, revealing the essence of social systems and having a direct bearing on the understanding of social organization.

The first variant is described, for example, in the work of T. Parsons "System of Modern Societies". From the point of view of Parsons, social systems are open systems formed by the processes of social interaction between actors. The structure of social systems can be analyzed by applying four types of independent variables - values, norms, collectives and roles. Values ​​occupy a leading place in the performance by social systems of the function of preserving and reproducing the sample. Values ​​are representations about the desired type of social system and thereby regulate the processes of acceptance by the actors of the relevant obligations. The main function of the norms is to integrate the social system. They not only include the elements of the value system, specified in relation to the corresponding levels in the structure of the social system, but also contain specific methods of orientation for action in functional and situational conditions specific to certain collectives and roles. For the teams, the most important is the goal-setting function. Throwing out numerous cases of extremely unstable group systems, such as the crowd, Parsons refers to collectives only those that meet two criteria. First, there must be a clear distinction between the members and not members of the given collective. Secondly, within the team there should be a status-functional differentiation of its members, which determines social expectations about the actions of each of them. A role is a structural component that primarily performs an adaptive function. With its help, specific individuals through mutual expectations are included in this or that collective. Therefore, roles are the main zones of interpenetration of the social system and personality of the individual. Moreover, each individual participates not only in this, but also in other types of interaction, i.e. plays several roles.

Again, according to Parsons, all the above structural components are independent variables in relation to each other. For example, highly abstract value models do not always legitimize the same norms, collectives and roles. In the same way, many norms regulate the actions of a multitude of collectives and roles, but only in a certain part of their action. In the team there are always many roles, although almost every significant role is performed in a variety of specific teams. Nevertheless, social systems consist of combinations of these structural components. In order to achieve a stable institutionalization, collectives and roles should be guided by specific values ​​and norms, and they themselves are institutionalized insofar as they are implemented by specific collectives and roles.

The above version of the AGIL -conception gives an idea of ​​the institutionalization of social structures, a special kind of which are organizations. There is another version of the concept, which has been used repeatedly in Parsons' works, including for the analysis of economic organizations. But since the subject of the sociology of organizations is broader than economic subjects, we abstract from it and we will present this variant with reference to organizations in general.

All existing living systems, systems of action and societies, including organizations, are characterized by two sets of relationships - relationships between parts of the system to maintain the internal structure (homeostasis) and relationships such as the "system-environment" To adapt to a changing external environment. Analysis of both types of relations involves the consideration of four parts of the system or subsystems, each of which has its own functional purpose.

The adaptation subsystem is responsible for the receipt of the necessary resources from the external environment in the organization and sale of the product of its purposeful activity, i.e. provides an optimal balance between the inputs and outputs of the system. The organization always has many goals, and, therefore, the achievement of any one goal diverts resources from reaching others. The hierarchy of goals is established by the subsystem of goal-setting (power and management). This subsystem also mobilizes (distributes) organizational resources and actively influences various elements of the external and internal environment to achieve basic organizational goals.

The goal-setting subsystem usually includes three levels of management - technical, administrative (actually managerial) and institutional, - each of which also has its own specific functions. At the technical level, direct management of various operations for the transformation of resources or provision of services is carried out. The administrative level is designed to coordinate various forms of activity and coordinate efforts of various departments of the organization. The institutional level is the level of strategic planning and management that ensures the adaptation of the organization to changes in the external environment, and also links it to society as a whole, i.e. legitimizing its activities.

If the adaptation and goal-setting subsystems regulate both intra-organizational and organizational-environmental relations, the subsystems for the integration and maintenance of samples are primarily oriented towards ensuring the internal stability of the organization. The integration subsystem is associated with the distribution of rights and obligations (statuses) in the organization and the corresponding sanctions for their violation. Thus, the subsystem determines and corrects the contribution of various officials and units to the achievement of the organization's goals. Finally, the subsystem of maintaining samples (latent function) correlates with the regulation of organizational behavior through organizational culture, the core of which is organizational values. This function has two aspects. The first aspect concerns the process of formation of organizational culture (codes, rules, rituals), the second - the process of "organizational socialization", i.e. familiarizing the members of the organization with the values ​​of the organizational culture and maintaining the appropriate motivation and role-oriented behavior and activities.

Despite the fact that the above functions of the organization in the external environment are closely related to the functions of its individual subsystems, the main functional significance is the system as a whole, and not part of it.

P. Merton has significantly developed a structural and functional view of society. In Merton, just as in Parsons, the function plays a backbone role. However, along with the concept of function, Merton pays no less attention to the notion of dysfunction. According to Merton, functions are actions and social phenomena that objectively contribute to the activity of the system and/or its adaptation to the environment. Adaptation to the environment should be considered to increase the adaptability and survival of the system, in our case, the organization. Dysfunctions objectively have opposite results. Objectivity of functionality and dysfunctionality of social actions and impacts means their real consequences for systems, in contrast to the subjective intentions of social actors. Therefore, the functionality of, for example, management decisions in an organization can only be determined by post factum. At the same time, if the result corresponds to intentions, one should speak about an explicit function, otherwise (for example, when receiving so-called side effects), it should be a hidden or latent function. Merton also breaks the rigid link between function and social action or phenomenon and believes that the phenomenon can have different functions, and the function is realized by different phenomena. In addition, in different aspects, the same social phenomenon for a system can be both functional and dysfunctional.

In general, it can be argued that in R. Merton, however, as well as, for example, A. Etzioni, the organization is a homeostatic system whose functioning is a self-fulfilling process, therefore, first, the achievement of the organization's goal - only one of the components of this process, and secondly, deviations from this goal - quite a natural thing.

Structural and functional analysis in the interpretation of R. Merton became one of the foundations of the theory of random transformations of the organization, the main developers of which are J. March and J., Olsen. The theory is also based on the provisions of the theory of K. Veik, who views organizations as "organized anarchy", i.e. insufficiently stable systems with weak organizational ties and conflicting interests of the members and divisions of the organization. Hence the process of structural organizational changes is a consequence of the implementation of various managerial decisions of various management instances in different situations reflecting different interests over a period of time. As a result, the folding organizational structures at least do not fully correspond to the adopted organizational strategy, developed on the basis of a rational analysis of changes in the external environment and internal dynamics of the organization. Management in this interpretation is mainly to monitor the implementation of organizational rules, procedures and rituals and de facto should not pretend to be a "futuristic" function.

The theory of random transformations is meaningfully opposed to various rationalistic concepts of innovative development of the organization, created somewhat earlier (at the turn of the 1960s - 1970s) by P. Blau, P. Drucker, G. Simon and other authors in line with the managerial tradition. In these concepts, the focused activity of managers in the planning and implementation of innovations is in the focus. The factors that determine innovation (internal, external, ideal representations of management), the stages and processes of innovations, the dependence of their progress on the methods of implementation, the life cycle of the organization, the organizational culture, the degree of resistance to changes, etc. are considered.

The environmental approach began to form in the late 1960s. and most actively developed until the 1980s. It is a development of the view of the organization as an open system, in which special attention is paid to the communication and mutual influence of the organization and its external environment. At the heart of this view, on the one hand, are situational constructions that we have already considered, and on the other, the models of organization as a community and as ecosystems , the creation of which was initiated by the works of F. Selznick and C. Barnard. According to these models, the organization has no other goal than survival, thanks to the satisfaction of diverse organizational needs that are not only reducible to achieving efficiency. For example, in the economy it is often possible to observe that firms radically change industries, manufactured products, markets, but at the same time retain their name, basic staff, a system of internal values.

The metaphorical comparison of the organization with the community becomes a step back, if we recall that in the pre-industrial era, states, settlements, families, and work collectives for people were communities. Understanding the organization as a community or community of people can explain many spontaneous organizational processes and informal relationships between people. In general, everything that does not fit into the model of goal-oriented action can be explained on the basis of recognition of the multiple needs of the organization and its members. It is quite natural that in the process of such an explanation, the role of formal interactions and the achievement of the goal is reduced somewhat (and sometimes very significantly). Such an understanding of organizational reality does not fully accord with traditional European common sense, which sees in the organization rather an instrument of goal-seeking than a spontaneously emerged and according to its laws a developing social community. But, for example, in Japan, people often see the company they work for as a large family and associate with it all their lives.

The concept of an ecosystem implies a certain sustainable habitat. But if the behavior of an animal depends entirely on the environment, then human behavior is primarily determined by culture. From this point of view, the environment of the organization is the values ​​and norms of the dominant culture and subculture of the relevant field of activity. In turn, each organization creates a special world around its members, consisting of values ​​and symbols, patterns of behavior and hidden meanings. And not only creates, but implicitly or implicitly imposes them. Therefore, just as people of different professions are forming different styles of thinking, different value orientations, stereotypes of perception of reality, preferences and prejudices are formed among the personnel of different organizations. Thus, understanding the organization as an ecosystem puts the concept of a dominant, organizational or corporate culture at the center of research.

In its developed form, the environmental approach includes a variety of theoretical constructs, among which the main ones are organizational ecology and neoinstitutionalism.

The theory of organizational ecology was formed in the second half of the 1970s. the efforts of A. Hawley, O. Duncan, A. Stinchkomb and some other scientists. From the point of view of its representatives, the subject of the sociology of organizations is the ecosystem or ecological complex, which includes organization along with its ecological niche - that part of the external environment with which the organization constantly interacts. Organizational ecology has two main versions - focus-adaptive and population-selection.

In the focus-adaptive version (A. Hawley, J. Pfeffer, G. Salanchik and others), the ecological niche is a subsystem of resource sources and a sales area, i.e. the target environment (other organizations) with which the organization competes and exchanges activities. The interaction of the organization with the elements of the ecological niche is carried out with the help of rational adaptation processes determined by management. At the same time, the organization not only adapts easily to the environment, acquiring isomorphic forms of its organizational structure, as the situational approach assumes, but also actively influences the environment, in particular, trying to reduce dependence on it. Rationality of interactions in the ecosystem actualizes the problem of setting goals and achieving them, starting from the strategic level, for the optimal combination of both types of adaptation. As a result, the organizational structure reflects not so much its desire for efficiency, but rather the balance of interests in the organization and the ecosystem that is optimal for survival.

In contrast to the focus-adaptive approach in the population-breeding version of organizational ecology (J. Pfeffer, M. Hannan, J. Freeman), the organization is rather conservative, and the development of forms isomorphic to the environment is described at the organizational level populations as selection or natural selection. In addition, in the adaptive approach, particular attention is paid to the microenvironment of the organization, and the existence of the macro environment is only ascertained. In the selection approach, socio-cultural - political, economic, educational and religious factors of the environment are also taken into account.

In the model of M. Hannan and J. Freeman, the features of the functioning and development of the organization largely depend on the state of the ecological niche-its macro characteristics, the amount of resources and competitors. To adapt to changes in the ecological niche and survival, management of the organization makes rational efforts that expand its "sociocultural repertoire" - a set of response methods or behavioral patterns. However, it is very difficult to assess the impact of all factors, especially in the process of strategic planning. In addition, as a result of structural inertia and resistance of personnel, organizational changes tend to lag in comparison with changes in the organizational environment. Therefore, new behavioral patterns of individual organizations have different viability, which is checked by life itself at the level of the organizational population, i.e. at the level of a group of the same type of organizations that use the same ecological niche. It is at this level that the most successful samples and organizations are selected, which ultimately determines the evolutionary change of the "sociocultural repertoire" of the whole population. In turn, its wealth is crucial in the process of competition between populations, which occurs if the presence of one population in the ecological space affects the rate of development of another.

Neo-institutionalism was originally developed in economic theory (R. Coase, O. Williamson), and as one of the directions of environmentalism in the sociology of organizations was formed in the late 1970s . (J. Meyer, B. Rowan, P. Dimaggio) and continues to be quite popular. According to the institutional interpretation, an organization (like a social institution) is a set of rules of behavior that are opposite to the rules (principles) existing on the market; and the external environment of the organization is its target environment and institutional rules of conduct (social norms).

Within the framework of economic theory, R. Coase and O. Williamson proposed an understanding of the organization as a special mechanism for economic transactions (interactions). Unlike the market where transactions of economic agents are connected with the transfer of property rights and the use of the price system, the organization constitutes itself a way of joint activity without transfer of ownership and purchase and sale based on bureaucratic procedures. Due to this, the organization is able to drastically reduce the transaction costs characteristic of the market and are associated primarily with the complexity and inconsistency of the price mechanism.

Economic transactions serve as a basis for social interactions. The organization rationally realizes them on the basis of centralization, management unity, scalar principle, which is always associated with a conscious restriction of the degree of people's freedom and relations of domination-subordination. The market is entirely focused on horizontal connections with a high degree of freedom of its agents, which creates opportunities for the spontaneous development of market relations in various spheres of public life. But at the same time the market is somewhat irrational and can not be understood until the end.

In organizational neoinstitutionalism, two groups of organizations are distinguished: competitive, whose survival depends on their effectiveness, and institutional, whose survival depends on their institutional isomorphism, i.e. the conformity of organizational and institutional rules (J. Meyer, W. Scott). The results of the activities of organizations of the first type, most often acting in a commodity form, can be unambiguously measured, and therefore their organizational rules should first of all realize the principle of minimizing transaction costs in the process of access to resources controlled by other (external) organizations. The results of the activities of organizations of the second type-most often services-can not be measured unambiguously, and therefore their organizational rules must first correspond (or demonstrate compliance) to social norms (institutional isomorphism in the understanding of T. Parsons). The process of achieving conformity of organizational rules with the requirements of the social environment is called adaptation. According to most institutionalists, significant changes in social norms often lead to the emergence of new organizations, rather than to adapting existing ones, since the latter is very costly and calls into question the identity of the organization. In general, the orientation of organizational neoinstitutionalism to the macro environment allows us to conclude that the achievement of the social goals of any organization (for example, in the context of social responsibility) is facilitated not so much by the rationality of their activities as by their commitment to broader institutional goals.

System Constructivism was created in the 1970-80s. American scientist K. Vejk on the basis of system representations and subjectively constructivist sociological theories of C. Culi, J. Mead, A. Schütz, and others, and then developed by S. Ranson, B. Hainings, R. Greenwood. Systemic constructivism regards an organization as a phenomenon constructed in the mind, more precisely as an intersubjective notion of it, and its external environment as a cultural system incorporating the language, as well as other symbols and meanings necessary for understanding and interpreting reality. In accordance with subjectively-constructivist theories, organizational constructivism focuses attention on the freedom and creative activity of the organizational person. This raises the problem of the permanent definition and redefinition of the organizational structure and configuration of activities as a result of the interaction of members of the organization that have different and changing rational interests in time. However, the combination of rationality and uncertainty in the organization, as well as the recognition of the dynamism of organizational structures, were also associated with the general trend of switching the attention of scientists and practitioners during this period from hierarchical to network organizations.

From K.Vake's point of view, the organization is "organized anarchy" or "loosely related system", consisting of small segments that unite people with similar interests and an understanding of reality, which freely determine their organizational roles. However, these segments are only relatively stable, both in terms of their composition and in terms of vectors of their behavior. Nevertheless, the organization as a social phenomenon exists due to the operation of the three mechanisms. First, the cultural environment provides members of the organization with common guidelines for understanding and interpreting social reality (human, human relations, activities). Secondly, the uncertainty of organizational relations is reduced by the efforts of formal and informal leaders. According to K. Veik, organizing means excluding or reducing diversity. Thirdly, the result of the experience of managed and self-administered interactions in an organization is the organizational culture as a collective notion of what the members of the organization are guided by (or should be guided by).

We emphasize that subjectively rational individual actions and interactions related to organizational culture and general cultural representations are not only the result of interpretation, but also a way of constructing organizational reality. In the processes of changing and the emergence of new meanings, a special role belongs to leaders and their strategic vision of problems. At the same time, organizational changes are inevitably caused by multidirectional behavior within the organization and constant transformations of the external environment.

The conflict-game approach to the organization arose around the same time as systemic constructivism, the efforts of European, including Soviet scientists - M. Crozier, E. Friedberg, A. Kozminsky , Mr. Shchedrovitsky on the basis of the synthesis of individual elements of the theory of social conflict, systemic constructivism K. Vejka and game theory. The prerequisites for creating an approach should also be considered the work of American scientists E. Pettigrew, J. Pfeffer, J. French and B. Raven, in which in the managerial context, the problems of the political and organizational conflict and the role of the manager as a manipulator directed and exploiting the struggle for the power of various coalitions in the organization.

Representatives of this approach interpret organization as artificial rationally constructed system, which nevertheless should pursue institutional goals, is a means to the realization of individual and group interests, and is therefore only partially ordered, and contains significant areas of uncertainty, it combines interdependence and autonomy of its constituent entities . However, all of these provisions, reflecting an attempt to combine the achievements of the natural and artificial models of the organization, we in one form or another met in other modern approaches and theories. The specificity of the conflict-game approach is that it views the organization as an arena for power struggles or information and at the same time as a sphere of cooperation.

As already noted, the organization is a partially ordered structure, which introduces elements of uncertainty into its activities. At the same time, the organization potentially strives for orderliness, because only it allows to consolidate the efforts of the staff to achieve organizational goals. These factors, as well as the fact that the power itself is a "valuable and scarce resource", and determine the struggle for it, which mainly comes down to gaining control over the uncertainty in the zones that affect the goal-achievement processes. The struggle for power is carried out in the form of a game with sufficiently rigid organizational and institutional rules, which are related to the creation of coalitions and alliances (on professional, organizational and group affiliation, interests), the methods and techniques of competition, offensive and defense. In this case, the rules of the organizational game in the process of organizational interactions may vary, but only within the limits specified by the formal structure of the organization and institutional norms.

As in most conflictological sociological theories, in a conflict-game approach, virtually any conflict, and not just a normatively regulated conflict over power, can determine the directions and create conditions for organizational development. In addition, the understanding of conflict as an attribute of organizational life emphasizes the plurality of intra-organizational interests, and hence the importance of the negotiation process in order to achieve agreements necessary for the development of the organization.

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The history of the development of sociology of organizations allows us to identify a number of trends in changing the understanding of the essence of the organization:

• from rational organization to organization as a natural social community;

• from universal principles (normativism) to situational principles of organization and management of the organization;

• from the mechanical to the organic organizational structure;

• From organization as a closed system to an organization as an open system.

Among these trends, unconditional, perhaps, can be considered only the latter. The rest imply a combination of traditional and new views, as well as their application depending on the type of organization and the type of its activities.

In the new century, new theories of organizations appeared, the most significant of which we will consider in the following chapters. However, we first note that among them there are no theories that claim global coverage of organizational problems or universality of application. This can be explained by the following reasons:

The first reason is the growing diversity of organizations. It is not just a matter of the diversity of specializations of activities and organizational forms - in the era of globalization, cultural diversity is becoming increasingly evident. All this imposes restrictions on the applicability of a particular concept in different conditions.

The second reason is connected with the phenomenon of collective rationality (collective rationality ). In the conditions of fierce competition, the application of all the same organizational bases and management methods to all good participants can not lead. In the social world, unlike the natural world, efficiency and survival are associated with the "special path" which every organization must search for.

The third reason lies in the features of the consciousness of modern man, largely due to the results of totalitarian social experiments of the XX century. and with obvious evidence of what can lead to the consistent implementation of a single common idea. Therefore, a departure from the canons of classical rationality in a variety of areas of human activity and epistemological skepticism regarding the canons of classical science is understandable. The hierarchy of ideas, social and other objects is increasingly perceived as something that restricts freedom of thought and action, devoid of flexibility and dynamism. At present, horizontal competitive, and therefore self-developing structures, in our case - structures or systems of scientific knowledge, are adequate to achieve a large number of scientific and practical purposes.

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