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Organization Theory and Governance for the 21st Century

Organization Theory and Governance for the 21st Century

First Edition

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August 2014 | 352 pages | CQ Press

Exposing students to post-traditional theory as well as to “operationalize” theory, this book clearly shows how they’ve been applied and with what impact. The book first covers the classical foundations of organization theory, beginning with rationalist approaches and the behavioural revolution, and then delving into the diversity of network theory, chaos and complexity, structural-functionalism, and transaction cost economics. The authors then demonstrate how these theories are operationalized; i.e. how they can be applied to various management and administrative functions, including managing individual behaviour, affecting organizational change, understanding and shaping group dynamics, and managing organization/environment relations. The final section introduces students to post-traditional theory, links back to classical foundations, and demonstrates how these theories are being applied in organizations involved in governance.  Austin and Parkes also discuss the implications and provide critiques of these theories.

Valuable case studies bring the material to life; the authors identify both historical contexts and “current expressions,” or contemporary examples of these theories at work. Reflection questions throughout each chapter, end-of-chapter discussion questions, and bolded key concepts facilitate a deeper understanding of the material and prompt students to extrapolate what they’ve learned and engage in further analysis.

Chapter 1: An Introduction and Orientation to Organization Theory
The Complex World of Public Organizations: A Primer

Sociology of Knowledge:Ways of Knowing about Organizations

Influential theories and paradigms in the social sciences

Levels of analysis

The Book's Approach

Organization and Content of the Book

Diving In

Part I: Theories of Organization
Chapter 2: Classical Foundations: The Historical Context of a New Field of Study
Max Weber – Authority and Bureaucracy

Henri Fayol

Frederick Winslow Taylor

Luther Gulick

Woodrow Wilson

Other Voices

Case 2.1 The President's Committee on Administrative Management (The Brownlow Committee and Report)

Summary and Commentary

Discussion Questions

Chapter 3: Behavioral Revolution
Historical Context – Pre-War Hints and Post-War Proliferation

Chester Barnard

Elton Mayo, Fritz Rothlisburger and the Hawthorne Experiments

Systems Theory

Human Relations Theory

Empirical Work – Kurt Lewin & Rensis Likert

Conceptual Work – Abraham Maslow

Douglas McGregor

Chris Argyris

Robert Merton

Herbert Simon

Other Voices: Dwight Waldo

Case 3.1 The New York Department of Sanitation – Bureau of Motor Equipment

Summary and Commentary

Discussion Questions

Chapter 4: Life after Berger and Luckman: A Theoretically Diverse World
Social and Historical Climate – Things get more complicated

Economic Theories of Organization – Transaction Costs Economics and Agency Theory

Network Theory

Contingency Theory

Chaos and Complexity Theories

Structural-Functionalism & Structuration Theory

Cognitive and Psychological Models - Sensemaking

Case 4.1 The Tennessee Valley Authority: An examination of parallel theories

Summary and Commentary

Discussion Questions

Part II: Issues, Strategies and Tactics
Chapter 5: Managing Individual Behavior
The Management Attribute

Classical and Rationalist Approaches

Case 5.1 Current Expressions: Classical and Rationalist Approaches at the Department of Homeland Security

Hawthorne Reprised: From Rationalism to Behavioralism

Case 5.2 Current Expressions: Behaviorist Alternatives

Foreshadows of Postmodernism


Discussion Questions

Chapter 6: Understanding and Shaping Group Dynamics
The Management Attribute

Human and Group Relations Theories

Case 6.1 Current Expressions : Control and Expanding the Area Under the Curve at St. John’s Health System

Systems Theories

Case 6.2 Current Expressions : TQM and Local Government

Organization Culture

Case 6.3 Current Expressions: Organizational Culture and Management at Continental Airlines

Foreshadows of Postmodernism

Summary and Commentary

Discussion Questions

Chapter 7: Affecting Organization Change
The Management Attribute

Key Theories of Change

Business Process Reengineering

Case 7.1 Current Expressions: Business Process Reengineering at the Jefferson County Alabama

The Burke-Litwin Change Model

Case 7.2 Current Expressions: Burke-Litwin in Texas Public Schools

Organization Development

Case 7.3 Current Expressions: OD in the Montana State University Research Library

New Sciences and Organizations

Chaos and Complexity theories

Foreshadows of postmodernism


Discussion Questions

Chapter 8: Managing Organization – Environment Relations
The Management Attribute

Resource Dependence Theory

Case 8.1 Current Expressions: Resource Dependence Theory at Brigham Young University

Network Theory

Case 8.2 Current Expressions: Networks and Municipal Housing in the Phoenix-Mesa Area


Case 8.3 Current Expressions: Isomorphic and Governance Organizations

Links to Post-traditionalism/Postmodernism

Summary and Commentary

Discussion Questions

Part III: Towards Post-Positivist Organizations
Chapter 9: Escaping the Void: History of Post-Positivism
History and Genealogy

Intellectual development

Post-positive Concepts appearing in the social sciences


Summary and Conclusions

Chapter 10: Learning to Fly: Applying Post-Traditional Theory
Organizational Activities



Chapter 11: Conclusion: This is the Beginning
Top 10 Things You’re Tired of Reading (but should remember anyway)

Historical and Conceptual Review

Organizations and Theory Competence

Governance Redux


“This book provides a breath of fresh air when discussing organizational theory and practice, and one that students will appreciate. The inclusion of organizational ethics is not only topical and relevant in today’s society, it also promotes and reinforces ‘ethics across the curriculum,’ a vital component of any public administration program. The material in Chapter 7, Affecting Organization Change: The Management Attribute, provides an excellent foundation for students, practitioners, and elected officials alike in the topic of change, an area that few people have received education or training in, yet is such a significant part of organizations and our lives. In fact, the material in this chapter was so impressive I found myself wanting to share it with the non-profit organization I volunteer with in light of their current situation and interaction with the city. Being able to relate real-life scenarios to material in the text, and wanting to use this material to better understand and improve these scenarios is powerful.”

Marcie Delmotte
Northern Arizona University

Organization Theory and Governance for the 21st Century provides an accessible discussion of a wide range of organizational theories and illustrates how these different perspectives enhance our understanding of the complex management and governance challenges in modern public organizations.  The book will make an exciting new addition to the book shelf of students and scholars alike.”

Mark T. Imperial
Department of Public and International Affairs, University of North Carolina Wilmington

“While there are many fine texts on organization theory, Pershing and Austin's Organization Theory and Governance for the 21st Century stands out among them. The authors provide the standard overview of the various theories of organization and treat them in enough detail to be useful. Where they shine is in their excellent discussion of Berger and Luckmann's social construction as well as subsequent diverse theories in Chapter 4 that offer a solid contextual framework for the overall subject. Going beyond theory, in Part II the writers delve into more practical action-oriented material that both current and future practitioners can benefit immensely from. Overall, this is a superb textbook that exceeds expectations and can be easily used for undergraduate, graduate, or professional venues.”

Shawn Schooley
Auburn University

The book is essentially designed to address important understanding about organisations and their importance in society. It introduces most of the dynamics for operations and developing effective groups. It is therefore important for Public Administration Students to understand Organisational functionalities, in particular those in the public sphere.

November 5, 2015

Theorotical Frame is well established

Professor ERHAN ATAY
Business Administration , Suleyman Sah University
December 8, 2015

Excelent book!

Professor Pedro Correia
Public Administration, University of Lisbon
December 17, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 7

For instructors

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