Broader rationalities and alternative forms of organisation: sociological insights into social strategic action

Faifua, Denis, and Harding, Sandra (2008) Broader rationalities and alternative forms of organisation: sociological insights into social strategic action. International Journal of Sociology, 28 (9/10). pp. 408-419.

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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to argue that the legacy of instrumental rationality has had a profoundly impoverishing effect on rational accounts of organisation, and that even though non-rational accounts move beyond instrumental rationality, they remain tied to economist assumptions. The paper outlines the broader Weber and Habermas's model of rationality, and demonstrates its application.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on verbatim quotes from a sampling of 35 in-depth interviews, the paper reveals the range of very different rationalities expressed in the social relations of work, of four very specific types of organisation: a bureaucracy, an entrepreneurial unit, a producer co-operative and a worker co-operative.

Findings – The paper outlines two ideal sets of findings, ideal in the sense that in two of the organisations the rationalities, social relations of work and associated outcomes fit well with the Weber and Habermas model of instrumental strategic action and social strategic action.

Research limitations/implications – This study shows the potential for broader rationality as it plays out in the workplace. The notion of workplaces that free workers to contribute in socially strategic ways points to new approaches to management and organisation.

Practical implications – The paper offers practical insights into social relations built on co-operation, moral judgement and communication.

Originality/value – The power of the idea of broader rationality is that being more rational, i.e. attending to more than a narrow impoverished view, provides the prospect of action advancing the social and the economic in a profound way.

Item ID: 5264
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-6720
Keywords: organizational culture, organizational structures, socialization, strategic management
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2009 05:33
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160806 Social Theory @ 60%
15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1503 Business and Management > 150310 Organisation and Management Theory @ 40%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9405 Work and Institutional Development > 940501 Employment Patterns and Change @ 40%
91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910402 Management @ 60%
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