Organization studies became institutionalized as a distinct research field in North America in the 1960s as leading universities expanded to include the new behavioural and management sciences. In keeping with the prevailing image of science, it adopted an empiricist epistemology and an atomistic ontology that portrayed formal organizations as isolated, reactive hierarchies adapting to market selection mechanisms. The further expansion of higher education in North America and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, especially in business and management studies, together with the failure of the logical empiricist research programme in the Anglo-Saxon philosophy of science and the decline of Fordism, encouraged considerable fragmentation of organization studies around rival frameworks. Additionally, the success of East Asian firms in many international markets and continued divergence of many European forms of capitalism from the US norm led to increasing interest in the role of institutional frameworks in structuring and reproducing competing forms of economic organization. This involved a radical reconceptualization of both the nature of formal organizations and their environments, which complemented developments in evolutionary and institutional economics. As a result, organizations have come to be seen as key mediating collectivities between national and international political-economic institutions and economic outcomes in different kinds of market economy.

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Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Whitley, R. (2003). From the search for universal correlations to the institutional structuring of economic organization and change: The development and future of organization studies. Organization, 10(3), 481–501. doi:10.1177/13505084030103008