Central perspectiives and debates in organization theory

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W. Graham Astley
Andrew H. Van de Ven


The diverse schools of organizational thought are classified according to micro and macro levels of organizational analysis and deterministic versus voluntaristic assumptions of human nature to yield four basic perspectives: system-structural, strategic choice, natural selection, and collective-action views of organizations. These four views represent qualitatively different concepts of organizational structure, behavior, change, and managerial roles. Six theoretical debates are then identified by systematically juxtaposing the four views against each other, and a partial reconciliation is achieved by bringing opposing viewpoints into dialectical relief. The six debates, which tend to be addressed singly and in isolation from each other in the literature, are then integrated at metatheoretical level. The framework presented thus attempts to overcome the problems associated with excessive theoretical compartmentalization by focusing on the interplay between divergent theoretical perspectives, but it also attempts to preserve the authenticity of distinctive viewpoints, thereby retaining the advantages associated with theoretical pluralism.


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ASTLEY, W. G.; VAN DE VEN, A. H. Central perspectiives and debates in organization theory. RAE - Revista de Administracao de Empresas , [S. l.], v. 45, n. 2, p. 52–73, 2005. Disponível em: https://periodicos.fgv.br/rae/article/view/37120. Acesso em: 25 sep. 2023.
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