Gilles en vrac… depuis 2002

théorie des organisations

If you want an excellent introduction to organization theory – I recommend Pfeffer’s New Directions in Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects.  The book nicely covers key micro-issues, which many org theory books don’t do, and more generally the book is an excellent lay-of-the-land introduction (for a different angle on the matter – see Peter Abell’s excellent Organisation Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach). » (Via

Je suis d’accord, tout à fait : Pfeffer a produit un petit bouquin très stimulant. Et Karl Weick en fait ici une bonne présentation. Bon, ce n’est pas un livre récent (1997) mais qui a dit que la théorie des organisations évolue si vite ?

Je cite ici quelques phrases de la présentation de Weick, qui me rappellent bien ce qui m’avait plu à la lecture de Pfeffer : Reading Pfeffer is a bit like reading a book-length Annual Review of Sociology chapter on organizations.

Translated into the language of the chapters of this book, the field is about understanding the causes of behavior (chap. 2), models of behavior, the effects of composition, mechanisms of social control, the exercise of power and influence, organizational performance, a critical look at managerialism, and new directions. Alternatively, it could be argued that the field is about the five models of behavior discussed in chapter 3: economic, social, retrospective rational, moral, and interpretive.

There are some wonderful moments in the book. Chapter 5 on mechanisms of social control – rewards and incentives, commitment and socialization, organizational culture, leadership – and chapter 4 on composition are beautiful, compact summaries of sprawling literatures. He makes explicit the liabilities of housing investigations of organizational studies in business schools (e.g., p. 189). There are eye-catching insights scattered everywhere. Is organizational culture really all that important if the work force consists of part-time or independent contractors (p. 19)? Are charismatic leaders effective in part because they engage the mechanism of insufficient justification (p. 132)? Why does the idea of self-managing teams diffuse so slowly (p. 172)? Why, given the importance of the topic, is work on negotiation so narrow and unhelpful (p. 150)? Isn’t it likely that reorganization reinstates the liability of newness (p. 165)? If an intact organization tries to become more of a learning organization, then that attempted change may re-create its founding, complete with founders who founder.

We see what high-paradigm topics such as economics and population ecology look like, and we see, in Pfeffer’s criticisms of each, how much a singular consensual focus can miss. Pfeffer is especially insistent that we need to resist economic and rational actor models, which is tough for people housed in business schools. Successful resistance would also seem to necessitate paradigm proliferation as people search for an alternative core focus. It is one thing to steer clear of entrenched, seductive temptations to rely on rational economic models of choice (p. 192). It is quite another to mobilize an alternative that is just as focused, consensual, and persuasive.

Notez que si le bouquin de Pfeffer coûte 50$ (quoi qu’on doit sans doute le trouver en bibliothèque), l’autre livre introductif suggéré par Teppo Felin, un des blogueurs de ce carnet, Organisation Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach de Peter Abell, est gratuit lui ! un PDF de 164 pages d’un professeur de la London School of Economics and Political Science. Rien qu’à lire la table des matières, on se sent déjà plus intelligent 😉



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