General Organisational Theory? LO20341

J.C. Lelie (
Sun, 10 Jan 1999 16:03:24 -0800

Replying to LO20307 --

Replying to LO20307

Hello Jospeh,

You asked:

> Is there a General Theory of Organisations?

I would recommend Weick's Social Psychology of Organizing. However, he
states, amongst others, that people require a theory to be at the same
time General, Accurate and Simple. (The same is required of a religion,
computer software and a song, so it is quite a general craving). You
cannot have your cake and eat it (at least not at the same time), so a
general theory will by either simple but not very accurate (as in: "all
organizations strive to maximalize profit") or accurate but not very
simple (for instance Mintzberg's "Structure in Fives").

The second remark is that Weick requires you to develop your own theories
on organisation, again and again. This, and i agree with him, is the only
way to understand organisational processes and behaviour. As starting
point you can use Chris Agyris' model on Theory Espoused and Theory in
Use, for instance in "Strategy, Change and Defensive Routines".

My own use of these theories lead me to a point were i had to develop a
meta-theory on organisational theory development, which i found using
McWinney's "Paths of Change", which is by the way a meta-praxis. So i now
believe that to understand organization i need six different levels,
views, interventions, leadership styles and what have you.

For organisational change in logistical processes (like procuring,
manufacturing and distributing, aka ERP or Supply Chain Management) i'm
working on a publication called "Coloring Logistical Change".

All the best to you in the new year,

Jan Lelie

PS: "Understanding Organisations" by Charles Handy will also be very

Drs Johan Charles Lelie CPIM (Jan)       
LOGISENS - Sparring Partner in Logistical Development -
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