If you have not really engaged with the field of organisational sciences, or organisational sociology, then you might be looking out for a basic text which sets out some of the main ideas of interest in these areas of study. Lune’s book does a good job of introducing some of the basic ideas around organisations and might help people orientate themselves in this area of work.
The chapters each pick up on a facet of organisational study, the first chapter engaging with the simple question of what we mean by an organisation and exploring the centrality of organisations in our society. This is then built upon by looking at the work of Weber, Durkheim and Marx who offer classic theories of organisation. This latter chapter is particularly useful for those who have not engaged with these theories but who what to develop an understanding of organisational theory – the sections are short on each theorist, but they offer enough to begin a train of thought to be followed up elsewhere.
Having looked at these classic theorists as a starting point, the next couple of chapters that take a loosely historical approach, looking first at rational systems work by people such as Taylor and Ford, then the development of human systems approaches as a reaction to this, before focusing on organisational culture in chapter 4.
Whilst these initial chapters are quite broad and very much introductory, for those new to organisational work, they nevertheless offer a simple orientation to some of the more mainstream and ‘classic’ views of organisations.
The remaining chapters are then more issues based. I’m currently doing a lot of reading on organisational failure, so the chapter on organisational dysfunction was particularly interesting, looking at different forms and scales of dysfunction and failure. This is followed by considering the ways in which organisations fit within their environments, including the development and importance of relations, and a consideration of the neo-institutional model.
The final chapters then look at the non-profit sector and their form and roles in the wider organisational ecology followed by the role of organisations in social change, and finally a ‘what next?’ reflection on the sociology of organisations.
This is a very readable book and is well written in the sense that it mixes theory with examples and case studies to help the reader understand how ideas can be used to explore and understand real world issues and contexts. At 192 pages it will not take long to read this and is a nice example of a book I would suggest students in education read if they want to consider an alternative way of understanding schools, colleges and universities to those tripped out in countless leadership books. Well worth taking a look. ere to edit.
Some reflections on things I'm reading