Organization Theory

Numbering Code G-ECON31 6A642 LE44 Year/Term 2021 ・ Second semester
Number of Credits 2 Course Type
Target Year Target Student
Language English Day/Period Wed.2・3
Instructor name WANG, Tao (Graduate School of Economics Associate Professor)
Outline and Purpose of the Course This objective of this graduate course is to familiarize students with major schools, conceptual frameworks, debates, and evolution in organization theory. As an interdisciplinary endeavor, organization theory (not a single theory, but theories) draws on sociology, economics, psychology, and political science, and seeks to understand how intra, inter-organizational processes, and relationships between organizations and environment shape economic life. The purpose of this course is to provide a roadmap of the theoretical terrain, a place to read and critically discuss different approaches and research articles, and thereby prepare you to generate research ideas, ask good research questions, and make a novel theoretical contribution.

Given the vast domain of inquiry, this course will touch lightly on many important topics and ignore others entirely (some topics may be covered in other courses). We will cover roughly one major theory per class, except in the introductory and concluding sessions. For each class I assign four to six required readings, which are a mix of classics, modern classics, and contemporary exemplars. The aim is to provide you with the foundations and evolution of a theoretical framework. Yet, theories often overlap or are joined together, so that you might return to previously discussed papers or see foreshadowing to other topics throughout the course. The reading will be time-consuming, so please plan accordingly.

The course is a discussion-based seminar, thus your participation is critical for creating the best learning environment. All students should have read and prepared some remarks on each required article prior to class. You can organize your thoughts in terms of the following questions:
- Motivation: What is the basic argument made by the authors? Why do the authors think that their topic or question is important? What does the author regard as incomplete in existing research so that hers constitutes a significant contribution?
- Theory: What distinguishes the theoretical viewpoint of the authors under consideration? What are the key concepts? What is the focal level of analysis? What are the underlying assumptions (implicit or explicit) made by the authors? What causal mechanisms/explanations do the authors focus on and why? What are the potential advantages and what are the drawbacks of a given focus?
- Evidence: What types of evidence do the authors bring to bear to support their argument? Which sorts of research designs and analyses do you find most compelling and why?
- Big picture: To what extent do you regard this reading as making a significant contribution to organization theory? What are the similarities and differences between this arguments and others put forward in other sessions? Are there alternative explanations?
Course Goals By the end of the course the students will be able to

- Evaluate the relevance of theoretical arguments in publications on organization theory
- Evaluate the quality of methodological approaches in publications on organization theory
- Communicate and debate the merits and limitations of different theories
- Generate scientifically sound and practically relevant research questions
- Develop a research proposal based on a literature review and an empirical puzzle
Schedule and Contents Session 1 (Week 1-2): Introduction
Session 2 (Week 3-4): Institutional theory 1
Session 3 (Week 5-6): Organizational ecology
Session 4 (Week 7-8): Institutional theory 2
Session 5 (Week 9-10): Categories
Session 6 (Week 11-12): Status
Session 7 (Week 13-14): Social movements
Session 8 (Week 15): Feedback session
Evaluation Methods and Policy Course grades are calculated by summing across the components below. Specific requirements are outlined.

- Class Participation: 30%
This evaluation component reflects the expectations for pre-class preparation outlined above, as well as the in-class engagement in generative discussion about the readings. Bring your best ideas, including your pointed critiques of articles you find lacking. Prepare to listen carefully to one another and respond constructively in our discussions. Learning is a collective enterprise, so everybody will benefit from an engaged, intense, and constructive conversation.
Discussion Leader. You will lead discussion of the papers. If you prefer, you can do this in teams. We will assign weeks on the first day. As discussion leader, you are responsible for setting the agenda of what we talk about in class. You can, if you like, prepare summaries of the theories and papers to share with your classmates; or, when you read, you can prepare your own summaries.

- Pre-class memos: 30%
There are 6 class sessions focused on major topics. While you must come prepared for discussion for each class, I only require a pre-class memo to be submitted for three class sessions of your choice. If you plan to submit a memo for a given session, please let me know in advance, and please submit it by email it by 8pm the evening before that class.
The memo should be up to 3-5 pages, single spaced. It should summarize and synthesize the required readings from the session and highlight some thoughtful reaction that the readings prompted (e.g. what are some research questions they give rise to? What contemporary phenomena is this body of theory relevant to?).

- Final term paper: 40%
The final term paper is your chance to engage in theory development of your own. The term paper should resemble the front end of a scholarly manuscript, up to (but not including) the empirical section. It should therefore identify and motivate a research question, develop arguments to help answer that question, and make one (or more) testable hypotheses. Optionally, it can include a sketch of the research design you could use to test the hypotheses. The paper should be roughly 10 to 15 pages long (double spaced, excluding references) and is due two weeks after the last class.
Students are expected to schedule a meeting with the instructor to discuss their proposed idea for a Final Term Paper some time before Week #9. Final term papers will be evaluated according to their conceptual adequacy; technical adequacy; and clarity, organization, and professionalism.
Course Requirements None
Study outside of Class (preparation and review) Students are expected to spend at least 3 hours outside of class each week on class preparation, readings, and review.
Textbooks Textbooks/References Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open Systems Perspective., W. Richard Scott; Gerald F. Davis, (Prentice-Hall), ISBN:0131958933
References, etc. Detailed reading list is TBD.

Articles and book selections that I will provide you, or that are readily available to you online.