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  • Cited by 147
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2012




There is little question that two of the most active and creative arenas of scholarly activity in the social sciences during the past four decades have been organizational studies (OS) and social movement analysis (SM). Both have been intellectually lively and vigorous in spite of the fact that scholars in both camps began their projects during the early 1960s on relatively barren soil. Students of OS took up their labors alongside the remnants of scientific management, their human relations critics, and scattered studies of bureaucratic behavior. SM scholars were surrounded by earlier empirical work on rumors, panics, crowds, and mobs together with a “smorgasbord” of theoretical perspectives, including the collective behavior, mass society, and relative deprivation approaches (McAdam, McCarthy, and Zald 1988: 695). In both situations, prior work provided scant theoretical coherence and little basis for optimism. Moreover, in this early period no connection existed or, indeed, seemed possible between the two fields since the former concentrated on instrumental, organized behavior while the latter's focus was on “spontaneous, unorganized, and unstructured phenomena” (Morris 2000: 445).

OS began to gain traction with the recognition of the importance of the wider environment, first material resource and technical features, then political, and, more recently, institutional and cultural forces. Open systems conceptions breathed new life into a field too long wedded to concerns of internal administrative design, leadership, and work group cohesion.