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.



In this volume we have argued for positivist organization theory. We have argued that this theory is cogent and empirically valid. We have shown that it is superior to the various other organization theories considered here.

Structural contingency theory is positivist and functionalist. Critics have expressed doubts about both of these attributes and have striven to develop analyses of organizations that are anti-positivist or anti-functionalist. These theories include strategic choice theory, political theory, typology theory and organizational systematics. However, none of these anti-positivist or anti-functionalist theories that have been considered here are sustainable. They suffer damaging problems at either the theoretical or empirical levels – and frequently at both levels.

Anti-positivism has fared poorly. The attempt to remove determinism has foundered, devolving into a critique that ...

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