For Formal Organization: The Past in the Present and Future of Organization Theory

ISBN : 9780198705123

Paul Du Gay; Signe Vikkelso
240 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Nov 2016
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This book focuses on the state of Organization Theory, its purpose, object, and practical relevance. In recent years, disquiet has mounted within the field of organizational analysis, broadly defined, about the overly theoretical and a-or anti-organizational state of Organization Theory and its consequent lack of practical purchase, not least in the light of pressing economic, social and political concerns that are often profoundly organizational in nature. The book argues that predominant contemporary modes of theorising within the field, and in particular the stance associated with them, have had the effect of occluding and dissolving Organization Theory's core object - formal organization - and, as a consequence, dissipating its practical focus and reach. The book seeks to contribute to the goal of reviving Organization Theory as a practical science of organizing and rehabilitating its core object -formal organization - through a re-examination and re-assessment of the outlook, comportment and attitude - stance - animating its classical antecedents. This ambition is double edged. For not only does it seek to revive Organization Theory through reconnecting it with the practical orientation framing classical organizational analysis, it also seeks to indicate how the historic products of that orientation or stance still have considerable traction for analysing and intervening in contemporary matters of organizational concern. Not least, this 'classical organizational stance' provides those who adopt it with a method with which to orient themselves both in formal organizational thought and in formal organizational life. It furnishes them with an ethos combining both practical rationality and ethical seriousness. In this sense the book suggest itself both as a guide to doing Organizational analysis and doing practical organization


1 The Idea of a 'Classical Stance' in Organization Theory
2 'Outside Organization': the idea of a 'metaphysical stance' in Organization Theory
3 Metaphysical Speculation in Organizational Theorising: on the lost specification of 'Change'
4 Metaphysical Speculation in Organizational Theorising: on the expressivism of 'Exploration'
5 Task and Purpose as (continuing) core concerns
6 Authority and Authorisation
Conclusion: Comportment and Character in Formal Organization and its Analysis

About the author: 

Paul du Gay has published extensively in sociology, cultural studies, public management and organization studies. He is the author inter alia of Consumption and Identity at Work and In Praise of Bureaucracy. His recent publications include New Spirits of Capitalism? Crises, Justifications and Dynamics (ed. with G. Morgan, OUP) and The Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory and Organization Studies: Contemporary Currents (with P. Adler, G. Morgan, and M. Reed eds., OUP). At CBS he is Academic Director of the School's Public Private Platform and leads the Velux Foundation project 'Office as a Vocation'.; Signe Vikkelso's research focuses on organizational analysis and the organizing effects of tools and techniques in work practices and human relations. Drawing upon cases from healthcare, psychoanalysis, and industrial production she has published in sociology of science and technology, psychology, CSCW and organization studies. Her recent publications include a comprehensive Handbook in Classic and Modern Organization Theory (ed. with P. Kjaer, Hans Reitzels Forlag). At CBS she is head of the Department of Organization, and member of the Research, Innovation and Organization Cluster.

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