The purpose of this paper is to address the core concept of docility in Simon’s learning theories and elaborate docility as a missing link in organizational performance structures. In his book, Administrative Behavior, first published in 1947 with three subsequent editions, Herbert A. Simon introduced a new concept to the emerging field of organizational theory, docility.
In Administrative Behavior, Herbert A. Simon introduced to management and organization theorists the concept of docility. Simon adopted the concept and meaning from E.C. Tolman’s (1932) classic work, Purposive Behavior in Animals and Men, and his novel views on learning processes and key concepts like purpose (goals), thought processes (cognitive psychology) and cognitive maps. This paper elaborates on docility mechanisms and the implications for social learning in organizations.
This paper addresses this lacuna in the organizational literature, and the implications for current theories of organizations and organizational learning.
Docility is a tool to link individual learning with organizational learning in complex environments and changing technologies.
The paper traces origins of Simon’s docility and learning theories.
I wish to thank and acknowledge helpful comments and insights from Professors James March, Jeffrey Overall, Gerry Kerr and the Editor and anonymous reviewers for the Journal of Management History.
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