While the history of modern ideas in business education in general, and organization theory and organizational economics in particular, has several different intellectual…
While the history of modern ideas in business education in general, and organization theory and organizational economics in particular, has several different intellectual roots, two books in particular were influential in initiating the field that is now broadly recognized as behavioral theories of organizations: A Behavioral Theory of the Firm, written by Richard Cyert and James G. March; and Organizations, written by Herbert Simon and James March. These two books set the stage for several subsequent developments in organization and management theory including research in learning, strategic management, and organizational routines. The behavioral view of the firm was also important to modern developments such as evolutionary theory and transaction cost economics. This paper examines part of this history and development, focusing in particular on the contributions of March.
In this introduction to the special issue we propose the main problems and issues that are addressed, namely, how the ambidextrous ideal in contemporary working life plays…
In this introduction to the special issue we propose the main problems and issues that are addressed, namely, how the ambidextrous ideal in contemporary working life plays out at the individual level. Today, employees need to have the intellectual, social, and physical capacity, will, strength and ability to produce, execute, refine, and choose. But they also need to have the intellectual, social and physical capacity, will, strength and ability to experiment, search, and play. They need both be able to discipline themselves and “go crazy.” They need both focus and fantasy. They need to adhere to organizational norms and values, as well as challenge them. We discuss the challenges and problems that face the ambidextrous person, and why he or she cannot remain but an ideal character. At the end of this introduction, we outline the contributions of all authors who seek to explore in various ways how the ambidextrous employee comes into play in contemporary society and its human and organizational consequences.
This chapter explores geopolitics, garbage cans, the need for interdisciplinary insight, and the lures and limitations of one-sided mono-disciplinary conceptual models in…
This chapter explores geopolitics, garbage cans, the need for interdisciplinary insight, and the lures and limitations of one-sided mono-disciplinary conceptual models in understanding strategic decision making. We argue that a combination of the garbage can model and Nathan Leites’ psycho-cultural approach to decision making might be useful in giving insights for events and for organizational behavior. As a decision making case, we consider the 1941 decision of the Empire of Japan to declare war on the Allied Powers. We find that there could be useful lines of integration between the garbage can framework and other perspectives in geopolitical decision making. In using a historical example to illustrate the possible integration, we argue that there are inherent limits to single-model decision making approaches. Developing interdisciplinary frameworks for understanding foreign policy decision making may lead to better insights in real-world processes and seems like a step in a fruitful direction.
The circumstances for the emergence of new ideas in organizational theory have previously been explored from several viewpoints. Researchers trace the origins of new ideas…
The circumstances for the emergence of new ideas in organizational theory have previously been explored from several viewpoints. Researchers trace the origins of new ideas to previous literature or compare ideas across continents and countries. The author takes another point of departure. Following Merton (1957, 1963), she focuses on “multiple discoveries” in science, studying the independent, simultaneous (re-)discovery of certain aspects of institutional theory in organizational theory. Specifically, she follows the circumstances under which two pairs of researchers proffered similar explanations for the phenomena they encountered (Jönsson & Lundin, 1977; Meyer & Rowan, 1977). Without ever having met, they suggested an analogous way of understanding the concept of organizing, though their research used different frames of reference and field material and was published in different outlets. The author’s analysis of the circumstances surrounding the two papers led her to explore elements in the emergence of new ideas: the Zeitgeist – the spirit of the times – international networks, and collegial work. When these factors are in play, physical meetings do not seem to be required, but scholars must be involved in networks in which their colleagues provide judgment and advice.
Interest in developing institutional explanations of political and economic behavior has blossomed among social scientists since the early 1980s. Three intellectual perspectives are now prevalent: rational choice theory, historical institutionalism and a new school of organizational analysis. This paper summarizes, compares and contrasts these views and suggests ways in which cross‐fertilization may be achieved. Particular attention is paid to how the insights of organizational analysis and historical institutionalism can be blended to provide fruitful avenues of research and theorizing, especially with regard to the production, adoption, and mobilization of ideas by decision makers.
This chapter investigates March's concepts of ‘exploration’ and ‘exploitation’ in relation to the graduate labour market (Levinthal & March, 1993; March, 1991). We focus…
This chapter investigates March's concepts of ‘exploration’ and ‘exploitation’ in relation to the graduate labour market (Levinthal & March, 1993; March, 1991). We focus on its use of the imagery of potentiality as key criterion of employability and investigate its dimensions through March's conceptual framework. We argue that the balancing act of exploring and exploiting one's potential becomes one of the main coordinates through which contemporary organisations attempt to configure the profile of the future employee. An ambidextrous ideal employee is configured who is trapped between the continuous demands of routinised production, execution and implementation, and those of equally sustained experimentation, self-expression and creativity. We conclude by arguing that this ideal can be interpreted as another example of an unsustainable utopian image of work in the context of contemporary management. The theme of potentiality illustrates the dangers of this utopia in a specific way. On the one hand, it plays the role of an inescapable framework guiding the individual's sense of self, whilst on the other hand, it predicates the self based upon an image of limitless potential.
The purpose of this paper is to trace the impact of a major management scholar, Herbert Simon.
The purpose of this paper is to trace the impact of a major management scholar, Herbert Simon.
A novel approach was employed in identifying the most influential research articles that have made use of Simon's two great management works, Administrative Behavior and Organizations (with James March). The list allowed the close analysis of the nature of the influence wielded by Herbert Simon on management scholarship. The process of analysis was guided by a targeted search. Google Scholar allowed the compilation of a list of top‐cited research articles that made use of the two books. The 25 most‐cited articles associated with each were then categorized by their subject matter and examined for the impact of Simon's research.
As measured by citations, Herbert Simon's influence on management scholarship has been immense. Administrative Behavior and Organizations have incurred huge numbers of citations, more than 7,000 each. Moreover, not one of the 50 papers populating the two lists has generated fewer than 1,000 citations. Both works contributed heavily to research on theories of the firm, organizational learning and knowledge, and on organizational coordination and decision‐making, among other topics.
An emerging research tool, Google Scholar, was engaged, allowing an empirically based analysis of Herbert Simon's contribution to management scholarship. The results mark, with unusual clarity, the direction and nature of Simon's enormous influence.
The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some…
The main task of scholars is to help good ideas forged by their predecessors find a new life in the imaginations of their successors. In this essay, we consider some aspects of this process from our experience with garbage can ideas of organizational decision making. We record our memories of initial encounters with them, impressions of their current condition, and some thoughts on convolutions they may experience in the years ahead.
Theoretical development and integration in organizational learning and learning organizations are currently impeded by three conceptual issues—issues of definition, of…
Theoretical development and integration in organizational learning and learning organizations are currently impeded by three conceptual issues—issues of definition, of bridging cognitive and behavioral perspectives, and of linking individual and organizational learning. This paper reviews these issues and suggests how they may be reconciled.