Organization Theory and Governance for the 21st Century is a core text for the organization theory course that provides students with both theoretical grounding and practical application. The objective of the text is to expose students to post-traditional theory as well as to “operationalize” theory, showing clearly how it's been applied and with what impact. The book first covers the classical foundations of organization theory, beginning with rationalist approaches and the behavioral revolution, and then delving into the diversity of network theory, chaos and complexity, structural-functionalism, and transaction cost economics. The authors then demonstrate how these theories are operationalized; i.e. how they can be applied to various management and administrative functions, including managing individual behavior, affecting organizational change, understanding and shaping group dynamics, and managing organization/environment relations. The final section introduces students to post-traditional theory, links back to classical foundations, and demonstrates how these theories are being applied in organizations involved in governance. Austin and Parkes also discuss the implications and provide critiques of these theories. Valuable case studies bring the material to life; the authors identify both historical contexts and “current expressions,” or contemporary examples of these theories at work. Reflection questions throughout each chapter, end-of-chapter discussion questions, and bolded key concepts facilitate a deeper understanding of the material and prompt students to extrapolate what they've learned and engage in further analysis.

Managing Organization-Environment Relations

Managing organization-environment relations

The Management Attribute

In this final chapter of Part II, we are moving our level of analysis to another, broader level. Here, we are turning our attention to theories of organization that help us understand and affect the relationship between the organization and the wider environment in which it operates. In his exploration of institutional leadership, Philip Selznick remarks the following:

When institutional leadership fails, it is perhaps more often by default than by positive error or sin; and the institution drifts, exposed to vagrant pressures, readily influenced by short-run opportunistic trends.1

In part, the rationale for including this topic is reflected in Selznick's attention to “critical” or strategic decisions that are related to the extent to which the “vagrant pressures” he ...

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