Organization theory is presently dominated by theories of strategic choice and politics. Managers are seen as exercising a wide range of choices while maximizing their personal self-interest through complex power struggles. For Positivist Organization Theory challenges these views, arguing instead that managerial decisions are determined by the situation and serve the interests of the whole organization. Showing that all organizations follow the same universal laws across technologies and a variety of cultures, this intriguing volume rejects the model of organizational configurations and types. Author Lex Donaldson backs up his theory, offering a critical assessment of leading organization theorists such as Henry Mintzberg, John Child, Michael Hannan, and Danny Miller--along with the satirist Northcote Parkinson. This important book will provide stimulating reading for academics and graduate students in organization, management, and administrative studies.

Positivist Organization Theory

Positivist organization theory

This book asserts the validity of the positivist theory of organizations. That theory holds that organizations are to be explained by scientific laws in which the shape taken by organizations is determined by material factors such as their size. These laws hold generally across organizations of all types and national cultures. The organization adopts a structure that is required by the imperatives of its situation. Thus, structures are seen as functional. In this way positivist organization theory embraces functionalism. Hence positivist organization theory is determinist, generalizing, functionalist and explains organizations by material factors.

Positivism in organization theory has been opposed by anti-positivism (Burrell and Morgan, 1979). Anti-positivism rejects each of the central tenets of positivism and argues instead for an approach ...

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