Finding the organization in organizational theory: A meta-theory of the organization as a social actor

Brayden G. King*, Teppo Felin, David A. Whetten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations

Abstract

Organization theory is a theory without a protagonist. Organizations are typically portrayed in organizational scholarship as aggregations of individuals, as instantiations of the environment, as nodes in a social network, as members of a population, or as a bundle of organizing processes. This paper hopes to highlight the need for understanding, explicating, and researching the enduring, noun-like qualities of the organization. We situate the organization in a broader social landscape by examining what is unique about the organization as a social actor. We propose two assumptions that underlie our conceptualization of organizations as social actors: external attribution and intentionality. We then highlight important questions and implications forming the core of a distinctively organizational analytical perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-305
Number of pages16
JournalOrganization Science
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Keywords

  • Goals
  • Organization theory
  • Organizational identity
  • Responsibility
  • Social actors
  • Sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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