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Key Concepts in Organization Theory

Key Concepts in Organization Theory

October 2012 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

From agency theory to power and politics, this indispensable guide to the key concepts of organization theory is your compass as you navigate through the often complex and abstract theories about the design and functioning of organizations. Designed to complement and elucidate your textbook or reading list, as well as introduce you to concepts that some courses neglect, this historical and interdisciplinary A-Z account of the field:

  • Helps you understand the basics of organization theory
  • Allows you to check your understanding of specific concepts
  • Fills in any gaps left by your course reading, and
  • Is a powerful revision tool

Each entry is consistently structured, providing a definition of the concept and why it's important to theory and practice, followed by a summary of current debates and a list of further reading. This companion will provide you with the nuts and bolts of an understanding that will serve you not just in your organization studies course, but throughout your degree and beyond.

Key concepts include: agency theory; business strategy; corporate governance; decision making; environmental uncertainty; globalization; industrial democracy; organizational change; stakeholder theory; storytelling and narrative research; technology and organization structure.


Agency Theory
Business Strategy
Complexity Science
Contested Exchange Theory
Corporate Governance
Decision Making
Discourse in Organizations
Environmental Uncertainty
Environment-Organization Interaction
Industrial Democracy
Institutional Theory
Labor Process Theory
Life Cycle Models
Organization Structure and Design
Organizational Change
Organizational Culture
Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management
Organizational Space
Postmodern Turn and Organization Studies
Power and Politics
Scientific Management
Stakeholder Theory
Storytelling and Narrative Research
Structuration Theory
Systems Theory
Technology and Organization Structure
Transaction Cost Economics

A very useful reference guide succinctly explaining and summarising key management concepts in a way that MBA students can use as an aid to memory and as a source of valuable information to help define and develop their theoretical frameworks.

Mr John Hirst
Durham Business School, Durham University
April 3, 2013

Very useful especially for those entering a master thesis on organization behavior

Mr Patrick Gilormini
ESDES, Catholic University of Lyon
February 12, 2013

I was looking for an essential textbook to prescribe for my Honnours level Organization Design course. Although I found this book to not be entirely suitable for this purpose, I found the topics covered to be more suitable for one of our 3rd year modules and have recommended that my colleague review the book for suitability for his course. We are also in a process of reviewing our undergraduate offering and some of the chapters covered in this publication seem very interesting and appropriate.

Ms Junay Lange
School of Public Leadership, University of Stellenbosch
January 25, 2013

Very helpful book that provides students with an accessible overview of key concepts and points them in the direction of further reading

Mr Robin Miller
Health Services Management Centre, Birmingham University
December 21, 2012

A helpful supplemental book. But does not have the breadth for a core text.

Mr Jonathan Brittain
School of Business, National College of Ireland
December 18, 2012

This is a key-book for every academic and student in business and management research. It provides excellent summaries of key concepts in organization theory positioning them within their historical context. It allows for a quick, accurate and comparative understanding of all the important theories and concepts in organisational theory and hence it will save you time and brain power in understanding what might of interest for your paper, study, assignment or PhD thesis.

Dr May Seitanidi
Business School, Hull University
November 21, 2012

This book provides a glossary of key terms in the field of OT that can be very useful for undergraduate students.

Dr Joan-Lluis Capelleras
Department of Business Economics, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
November 21, 2012

This book provides a valuable insight for students into key areas of organisational theory.

Mr Philip Cragg
HE Business & Management, Calderdale College
November 12, 2012

This is a brilliant foray into the realm of Organizational Theory, and highly recommended as a start point for students who are studying Organizations in any context. Each theory is clearly explained in the context of how it is applied. Superb for students to understand how the theory links to the real world.

Mrs Carrie Foster
Business School, Chester University
November 7, 2012

A really great summary text, offering a detailed glossary of the prominent themes in organization studies and theory. My course has now started but I will include this on the reading list for next year. In the meantime I have shown it to students in class.

Ms Victoria Pagan
Business School, Newcastle University
October 26, 2012

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter One

Ann L. Cunliffe

Ann Cunliffe is Professor of Organization Studies at the Escola de Administraçâo da Fundaçâo Getulio Vargas, Brazil and Visiting Professor at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italy; Aalborg University, Denmark; and the University of Bath, UK. She previously held positions as 50th Anniversary Chair at Bradford University, UK, as Professor at the University of Leeds, UK, the University of New Mexico, USA, and California State University, USA. Her current research interests include ethical leadership, embodied sensemaking, non-traditional qualitative research methods, and reflexive approaches to research, practice and... More About Author

John Teta Luhman

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