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.
Historical Context: Prewar Hints and Postwar Proliferation
Many of the earliest organization theorists in public administration gave little, if any, explicit attention to public organizations. This is evident in the fact that only two of the major theorists covered thus far, Luther Gulick and Mary Parker Follett to a lesser degree, gave specific attention to the function of public organizations. Much early thinking about organizations in the field of public administration works from an assumption consistent with Wilson's politics-administration dichotomy.1 The notion that politics should occur solely within and between the legislature and political executive as well as the administration and implementation of political and policy decisions should then be entirely apolitical. In this way, the processes of administration and the structure ...