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Elements in Organization Theory

Organizations matter. They are the fundamental instruments for the collective accomplishment of economic and social purposes. As such, they can be vehicles of social progress and the solution to basic problems such as the provision of food, healthcare, education, and other human needs and wants. But they can also, as Philip Selznick memorably argued, be used as 'weapons' that privilege some interests over others, not always legally or intentionally. At their worst, organizations provide the tools to multiply the effects of the darkest of human impulses and result in terrorism, genocide, and labour camps. As a result, it is essential that we understand how organizations work, how we can control them, and how we can insure they generate social good. Organization theory is the key discipline in studying these issues. While it covers many different approaches to understanding organizations, its focus is on what constitutes the how and why of organizations and organizing, bringing understanding of organizations in a holistic way. It recognizes that there are many different types of organizations - corporations, not-for-profits, social enterprises, hospitals, family firms, theatres, and so on - and seeks to understand those differences and their implications. Moreover, organization theory utilizes many different theoretical perspectives and lenses - but the focus is upon understanding organizations in a holistic way.

General Editors: Nelson Phillips, Imperial College London; Royston Greenwood, University of Alberta

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