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Complex Organizations

by: Alexandrine Crona

Complex Organizations 034 285

Marketplace > University of Iowa > Sociology > 034 285 > Complex Organizations
Alexandrine Crona
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Michael Sauder

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This 38 page Class Notes was uploaded by Alexandrine Crona on Friday October 23, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to 034 285 at University of Iowa taught by Michael Sauder in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 28 views. For similar materials see /class/227984/034-285-university-of-iowa in Sociology at University of Iowa.


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Date Created: 10/23/15
034285 Complex Organizations Week 3 Summaries Pfeffer Jeffrey 1997 quotUnderstanding the Causes of Behaviorquot Pp 2541 Ch 2 in New Directions for Organization Theory Problems and Prospects New York Oxford University Press Pfeffer Jeffrey 1997 quotFive Models of Behaviorquot Pp 4280 Ch 3 inNew Directions for Organization Theory Problems and Prospects New York Oxford University Press March James G and Herbert A Simon with the collaboration of Harold Guetzkow 1958 quotCognitive Limits on Rationalityquot Pp 136171 Ch 6 in Organizations New York John Wiley amp Sons March James G 1988 quotBounded Rationality Ambiguity and the Engineering of Choicequot Pp 266293 Ch 13 in Decisions and Organizations New York Basil Blackwell Cohen Michael D James G March and Johan P Olsen 1988 1972 quotA Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choicequot Reprinted on pp 294334 Ch 14 in decisions and Organizations New York Basil Blackwell Estibaliz Alonso Week 3 In this week s selection we have the opportunity to see how scholars address and analyze the problem of behavior in organizations Behavior in this case refers basically to the capacity of making choices and decisions and solving problems in the environment of the organization Pfeffer s chapters offer an introductory summary of both the evolution of the core of the studies and the main models that have traditionally focused in this particular issue In his first chapter we see his concern about what is it that causes behavior He goes over the history of the eld through a literature review of relevant studies that have analyzed this through time He states that the focus of the field has suffered changes due to the context of the time when each study was developed For instance we can see how the centrality of situational studies shifted towards an increasing interest in the study of individual dispositions or the Person by Situation Interaction and Fit perspective Many of the studies that analyzed personal disposition focused in the issue of job satisfaction Several aspects were researched by different authors such as affectivity personality and moods in relationship to this issue He also points out some weaknesses of this perspective such as problems of ambiguity interpretation temporal stability changes in elements of personality and lack of control for other variables that could potentially explain the same results The second perspective he analyzes focuses in interactions between individuals and situations to explain behavior in organizations According to this perspective it is the adequate fit between the person and the environment what explains behavior Pfeffer points out the importance of this perspective but at the same time addresses the issue that part of that optimal fit is created by the organization through socialization and not naturally developed In his second chapter he identifies the five central models of action and choice that are prominent in the study of organizations Pfeffer 1997 p 42 He examines the key assumptions implications and in some cases the problems presented by these models They are the economic model the social model the retrospectively rational model the moral model and the cognitive interpretive model Pfeffer s analysis of these models is an attempt to make us realize the importance of achieving a broader scope and understanding of the study of behavior in organizations which according to him has often been biased by the researchers bond to one model or the other which has made the whole field a more reductionist one Pfeffer dedicates a great deal of the chapter to the economic model due to its salience in the field There are several features common to the different economic models that Pfeffer identifies among them the fact that behavior is seen as rational although limited by individual capacity of computing and utilization of information Also organizations are viewed as aggregates of individuals and a situation of equilibrium is assumed Individuals are presumed to act upon selfinterest even opportunism in some of the theories This model presents some problems according to the author such as lack of methodological validity lack of data they ignore interorganizational cooperation etc None the less the economic model has been one of the most prominent ones The reasons for this according to Pfeffer could be that this model is a pretty one in the sense that it leaves aside issues of power abuse corruption or exploitation He also analyzes the essential features of the social model of behavior Social models focus in the context in which behavior happens as well as the in uence of others in individual perception They explain behavior in terms of social units connected to one another There are several salient models within this perspective The network model aims to study how individuals behave in organizations based on their personal bonds to other individuals Other models are the resource dependency model in which organizations are seen as having an independent reality from the individuals that forms them and in which organizations function in terms of interdependency from one another Pfeffer sees the importance of the social model in the sense that it helps us understand how information structures decisions and other practices and policies diffuse across social actors Pfeffer 1997 p65 even though they fail to explain the origin of it The next model Pfeffer explains is the retrospectively rational model in which individuals act based on past statements following a consistency with previous preferences and decisions selfjustification Some important issues this model deals with are incentives motivation and commitment He also talks about the moral model of behavior which postulates that individuals don t behave based solely on pleasure but also on moral duty and means are chosen on the basis of values Moral models have been valuable in the study of institutions and have added the normative component The final model Pfeffer presents is the interpretive cognitive model Even though cognition is an important element in all the other models there are distinctive features to this one The basic difference would be the fact that researchers focus in perception processes and separate them from external reality The author admits that some of these models are hard to distinguish from some of the previous ones In this model individuals behavior is based on cognitive maps how each person uses concepts and relations to understand organizations Next we have March s and Simon s piece about the cognitive limits of rationality This is a piece that has had a lot of in uence among other authors because it is a rst attempt of showing that rational behavior is limited by human capacity to process information choices and alternatives Simon critiques the extremes of rationality in which individuals were characterized almost like robots and introduces a human aspect into the field in which individuals act upon personal desires and motivations Simon talks about rationality within a frame of reference which is based on those limitations related to the fact that we are humans and not machines According to Simon activity in an organization can be traced to a stimulus which at the same time brings problem solving oriented activity through which we will complete the response These problem solving activities involve a search for alternatives of action When stimuli become routinized response or performance programs develop in which decision making becomes organized When a high degree of routinization is achieved these performance programs will be automatically implemented without the need for search or problem solving Simon also emphasizes the importance of the situation or the context in which individuals behave and relates it to the cognitive processes which will define the goals means and ends for the individual In this sense there is another key element for Simon communication among the members of the organization which is also central due to the specialized division of labor Communication is necessary to keep a high level of efficiency and to be able to coordinate the functions within the organization Simon s ideas are in uential in March s next piece March takes the concept of bounded rationality as a starting point to deal with the issues of ambiguity and taste in the arena of decisionmaking March critiques the idea that ambiguity disagreement about goals problems of relevance coherence etc portrays human stupidity and offers the alternative of considering that ambiguity as sensible and intelligent behavior To explain this he relies on the concept of taste He takes the characteristics of taste as they appear in the standard prescriptive theories of choice March 1988 p277 and opposes them to the characteristics of taste as portrayed by the alternative rationalities that he derives taking the concept of bounded rationality as a starting point These new rationalities attempt to re ect observed human behavior March s ultimate goal is to develop the concept of ambiguity within the field of decision engineering to be able to understand it better since it is clear that human behavior not always makes sense This increasing realization that human behavior does not follow the patterns of calculated rationality can also be seen in the last article the garbage can model of organizational choice This model is an attempt to explain processes of decision making within organized anarchies that is organizations that have problematic preferences preferences that can almost be seen as a loose collection of ideas Cohen March Olsenl988 p 295 organizations that have processes which are not understood by the members unclear technology and that have uid participation participants vary over time and effort The authors compare organizations to a garbage can in which all problems solutions and alternatives are dumped as they are generated by the members The members move from one choice opportunity to another and the nature of the choice becomes part of a complicated web of elements There are four factors that have a central role in this process are the net energy load and energy distribution the decision structure and the problem access structure The energy is the one consumed by the members in the process of organizational decision making Net energy load is de ned as the difference between the total energy required to solve all problems and the total effective energy available to the organization over all time periods Cohen March and Olsen 1988 p301 The decision structure refers to the relationship between those who make the decisions and the choices available and the problem access structure is the relationship between problems and choices They developed a computer simulation to explain behavior in organizations under these circumstances They applied it to a specific case of organized anarchy universities since they believe that this system allows to overcome the difficulties that characterize organized anarchies as far as decision making is concerned In summary through the articles we can see then that behavior in organizations has been increasingly in uenced by the idea that it is characterized by a bounded or limited rationality which is in many cases charged with ambiguity that the individuals who form organizations are not machines working under the rules of calculated patterns of rational behavior and that we have to incorporate all this to the study of this particular issue Chana Barron Week 3 In the last set of readings we began with rationality in its various perspectives in order to evaluate its impact on and implications for organizations and the study of organizations The rational perspective of organizations focuses on goal speci city and formalization as means of making behavior predictable and structuring relationships to achieve goals Rationalization moves the focus away from the individual to the roleposition that she fills This makes the particular individual less important and ensures the organization s life beyond that particular person In this week s readings we begin to see the limitations of the rational perspective by looking at decisionmaking in organizations In decisionmaking much as the theorists of rationality may want to eliminate the individual the process decision making can only be attained through an individual or group of individuals who act in particular rolespositions As we move through these readings we trace the path from the rational perspective to the bounded rationality that neither decisionmakers no organizations are always rational In other words there are limitations on the rational perspective In the first of the readings Pfeffer discusses the dispositionsituation debate surrounding the understanding of the causes of behavior in organizations In essence the debate centers on whether behavior is caused as the result of the situation within which it occurs or whether it results more from an individual s dispositional characteristics Pfeffer states that the way in which the causes of behavior are perceived is a factor of historical context as well as cultural norms and values Employing a catalogue of research studies in the area Pfeffer demonstrates the change from the sixties and seventies where the situational emphasis was paramount through to the eighties and nineties where dispositional factors ie individual differences emerged from the background to a more prominent focus Pfeffer also sets forth what he sees as the problems with using the dispositional factors His criticism however centers on the problems with the studies rather than the actual use of the perspective The very nature of an individual s dispositional characteristics may make the application of empirical methods more difficult This should not provide a basis for rejecting the perspective itself but should instead provide an impetus to improving creating methods which are reliable for studying dispositional factors Pfeffer goes on to discuss the efforts by some to change the nature of the debate from pick only one as an explanation of organization behavior to a recognition that situational and dispositional factors interact and that interaction best accounts for behavior in organizations While Pfeffer acknowledges the intuitive sensibility of this position here too he points up the problems in the studies used to support the interaction perspective Again the difficulty is in designing a reliable method for exploring the theory As Pfeffer maintains the controversy itself focuses social scientists on the problem and critiques of the dispositional perspective stimulate the substantive development of the study of individual traits Of primary importance for our ppurposes however is the fact that the debate indicates a move away from the wholehearted embrace of the rationality perspective toward a recognition of its limitations and a search for means to more fully explain organizational behavior In his next article Pfeffer presents five models of behavior to aid in understanding behavior in organizations Gaining information about the causes of behavior Pfeffer claims can help in theory building and theory testing He sets forth the five models and offers critiques of each of them using various studies to point out weaknesses These models include the rationalizing models in addition to the economic model and the social model According to Pfeffer the greatest difficulty is that the models often seem to simply ignore each other This too was the problem as previously noted with the rationality perspective It studiously avoids other possibilities eg that all actors are not rational that all choices are not made rationally and that all organization are not rationally based While organizations might operate more efficiently if rationality provided the support for behavior efficiency is not the only goal and efficiency might interfere in the achievement of other goals By being more open to interactions and multiple explanations a more complete picture of behavior may be achieved The very complexity of organizations as well as the fact that humans constitute a part of the organization intuitively demands a rejection of a single perspective This underscores once more the limits of rationality theory Finally we come to the three articles by March In the first of these written in 1958 with Simon the cognitive limits of rationality are addressed Aspects of the article are so much a product of the time in which it was written The fties were the era of the organization man 7 the individual who would find his home in the organization within which he worked If he spent his life performing is functions particularly at middlemanagement level he would have the rewards of a successful career in an environment in which he was a comfortable part This presupposed that his behavior conformed in all ways to organizational norms and that he became a part of the organization subsuming his individual characteristics into those characteristics required by his roleposition This was not a period in which individuality or creative thinking was valued in job performance or in fact in society a whole March spends much time looking at the proceduresprograms put in place to minimize individual thinking in decisionmaking 7 ways n which to limit the impact of individual characteristics on organizational decisions Moreover while talking about the limits of rationality March and Simon both implicitly and explicitly adopt Taylor s view that workersemployees are limited in their ability to think rationally on their own in the absence of a program that sets forth in as much detail as possible the ways in which a job is to be performed to optimally bene t the organization The authors largely reject the concept of rational man more than the rational perspective and stress the need to employ formalization in the face of the limitations on individual rationality They are maintaining that individual disposition can be factored out of organizational decision making by employing structured programs limiting choice The second March article from 1988 moves from the fties perspective to an examination of the impact personal tastes have on choice There is an acknowledgement that dispositional factors ie tastes play a part in decisionmaking and that not all behavior makes sense some of it is unreasonable March notes that bounded rationality and the view that individuals have limited cognitive capabilities has directed social scientists in looking for the rationality in behavior and the means by which to improve behavior This implicitly recognizes that the rationality perspective of organizations and organizational behavior could not completely eliminate the impact of human tastes in organizational decisionmaking Thus moving away again from classical rationality theory Finally there is March s article A Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice written with Cohen and Olsen Here there is an acceptance that all organizations are not rational that there are those that may be characterized as organized anarchies When confronted with organizations of this type a normative theory of intelligent decisionmaking should be developed The university is the best example of an organized anarchy and the authors provide us with results of a study of universities that has been used to construct a model of decisionmaking for organizations of this type The limitations of the model are recognized at the same time the authors offer hope that decisionmaking can be designed for and managed in these situations What is of interest here is not the model itself but the recognition once again that rationality cannot account for all organizational behavior It is clear however that there is still some effort to make behavior as rational as possible Throughout these articles we see the move away from an acceptance that the rationality perspective does not provide a complete explanation or model for organizational behavior in decisionmaking Despite this recognition there is still a bent toward making the decision process as rational as possible While do not advocate irrational behavior it is important for those engaging in theory and model construction to 39 r take into consideration the irrational aspects quotion of 39 quot 39 39 39 and organizations and employ them to arrive at explanations that encompass additional factors and perhaps provide a stronger base from which to arrive at decisionmaking strategies Lois Buntz Week 3 LIMITS OF RATIONLITY AND ORGANIZATIONAL DECISION MAKING The readings for this week exemplify the complexity of organizational studies and the critical issue of what perspective to choose in developing research designs to analyze the topic of decisionmaking In contrast to last weeks assignment that focused primarily on the organizational system these readings introduced one of the more unpredictable elements in organizations the people The fundamental question as Pfeffer proposes is what causes behavior and more specifically what causes and in uences decisionmaking The examination of that question as well as the answers achieved vary based on the factors involved in the theoretical hypotheses and subsequent research Rationality remains an assumption implicit in the attempt to answer the question If human beings act rationally then it is plausible to predict how they will act in organizational situations As the summary of research demonstrates the rationality of human subjects can be bounded or limited through organizational structure The possibility of forecasting how employees make decisions and knowing how to in uence the process would be an invaluable tool in organizational strategy This structural process also blends elements of bureaucracy and a goal of efficiency Although other disciplines are consistently linked to sociology s approach to organizations the study of human subjects brings a greater emphasis on the psychological perspective Using a variety of psychological instruments traits or disposition can be identified and defined The readings this week also provided perspectives of the economic social moral rational and cognitive models There are many problems inherent in the dispositional perspective definition stability over time and environmental in uence As the Big Five dimensions of personality were further developed intelligence or cognitive ability was mysteriously absent One critical assumption that lies within the study is that personality is stable constant and unchangeable Developmental theory does support the concept that personality is set early in our development but is it genetically determined learned and environmentally conditioned Will it be altered under the right environmental conditions Pfeffer further explores that concept of fit Is the interaction between disposition and environment the answer or do certain traits and dispositions f1t best with certain types of jobs Do dispositions and personalities f1t best in organizations and situations that are complimentary to ones values and does the organizational culture re ect the employees values Dr Len Sperry a psychiatrist from the University of Wisconsin and frequent organizational consultant consistently uses this theory in his work Corporate Consulting and Therapy Inherent in the two March articles are assumptions of human limitations and implications that individuals cannot creatively nd solutions without guidance If an individual is given too much choice this would create chaos in the organization Choice may be rational given a very speci c set of circumstances The organization for ef ciency and control can structure the amount and type of choices available Simon s work on choice in the 1950 s became the basis for a spirited discussion and subsequent research about individual and organizational decisionmaking Historically organizations were also moving from a rigid bureaucratic model to models that incorporated the human element Simon also introduces the concept of satis cing Decisions that are made within given constraints even though those decisions may not be rational without the constraints The economic model agrees with the concept of bounded rationality but also assumes that people are motivated by self interest and must be controlled resulting in the optimal labor contract This neoclassical paradigm minimizes the importance of interactions among employees and the impact of social moral or political issues on the organization Is this because the acknowledgement of it would complicate the research It also is a narrow perspective sterilizing the worker organization relationship The model seems to be popular with the sector that wants decisive quanti able answers and the ability to control the factors that in uence organizational decisions This is a closed system approach It could offer solutions but within a narrowly de ned eld As social conditions became more visible in society the concepts of interaction and social impact were also addressed in social theory and research Arising from resource dependency theory and departing from a rational individualistic perspective social model theory began to de ne organizations in new ways They were viewed as social units From an organizational perspective social relationships were dif cult to de ne and manage How does one quantify relationships networking alliances and their in uence on the organization and its goal These models are dif cult to test empirically due to individual traits and the context the organization is functioning within Social relationships may be very productive in one arena but not another This is an open system model The retrospective rational model suggests that individuals and organizations will take action to make sense of or to appear to be consistent with previous choices We rationalize past events and redefme current events to justify our actions Additional variations of the rational model are further explained in March s article Bounded Rationality Ambiguity and the Engineering of Choice He extends the concept by introducing taste preference and intelligence and the connection of choice to organizational goals As theoretical models expand the interplay of organizational structure and goals is linked to the decision making process The moral model moves away from the neoclassical approach and uses a behavioral model that postulates that individuals pursue pleasure and morality These two goals may con ict or compliment each other Does selfinterest take priority over the collective good Social values particularly from legitimate sources like government are more powerful predictors of behavior than self interest An example we use frequently is fundraising When our agency asks donors in the community to financially support a project it is defined as good for the community and the citizens People give up money for the collective good The cognitive model focuses on the reality that is created by the organization Management can manage myths images symbols and labels All of us use a cognitive map of concepts and relations to understand organizational situations The March article suggests that in order to be rational certain conditions must exist Individuals must have access to facts and have limitations of knowledge and choices Choice is limited by the individual s definition of the situation and the outcomes of social and psychological processes in the environment We search and find alternatives for action usually settling for satisfactory solutions not optimal solutions Managers can program these choices and searches because optimal searches are too time consuming and not cost effective We can condition behavior and program choice through the use of language This system increases the predictability of behavior the rationality of the organization Programming includes pacing detailed work activities and product specifications Individuals feel successful because work in divided into subgoals and units that are achievable What happens when the program doesn t work and situations develop that fall outside of the program Can individuals exercise choice Also this theory assumes that all conditions and the organization are stable If communication is effective and efficient there is greater capacity for interdepartmental or interdependence activities This works well for concrete objects or tasks it does not work well when describing non tangible tasks The communicator holds a lot of power He or she manages the perceptions of the employees This is also a behavioral approach to managing employees As organizations have grown more compleX and bureaucratic the ability to make decisions and manage the systems is more challenging Cohen March and Olsen present a mathematical model for managing the chaos of organized anarchies Systems that have grown too compleX do not solve problems but rather avoid them Choices are always made about resources energy and priorities This model appears very scienti c and quanti able I question how useful it would be It may validate the assumption that work must be subdivided and small units are more productive than large compleX systems There must be structure in the organization for rationality to occur Structure is developed by bounded rationality and limiting choices for people This keeps the organization stable Engineering of choice and preferences are processes in choice behavior Does the choice make sense and are we intelligent Can we choose wisely without constraints and control Further explorations of the concept of bounded rationality would be interesting and testable Could we extend the boundaries Could goals be given to work units and no controls set Human nature tends to move to control and order even when it is absent Can we structure ourselves because we are intelligent and wise Kevin Childers Week 3 Whereas last weeks readings summarized the contribution of rational choice theory and subsequent rationalization arguments within organizational theory this weeks readings summarize the limitations of rationality Recall brie y that rationalization is the idea that people act in predictable rational ways to optimize collective organizational outcomes sometimes at the expense of their own interests March and Simon discuss the limits of rationality They rst lay the groundwork for their paper by discussing some key assumptions about rational actors Rational actors are assumed to have knowledge about their choices past present and future and 39K 39 J of the 39 A with each of their choices People may have 1 certain or complete knowledge uncertain or some idea of the consequences and risk or when actors have knowledge only of the probability distribution of given choices As with last week s readings the authors here discuss the idea of optimal versus satisfactory solutions to problems That is rationality assumes people always choose the optimal response that which is best most efficient most beneficial People however do not always have the opportunity to get an optimal solution and so might settle for a satisfactory one or one that approaches the optimal but has some features that make the choice less than optimal Core to rationality also is the idea that individual actors within an organization do not matter Rather the positions people hold that matter This perspective led to researchers largely ignoring actor models and individual behaviors within organizations Of key interest is how job satisfaction might affect job performance by individuals which in turn would re ect on how well individuals can accomplish organizational goals Pfeffer summarizes general trends in rationalization arguments including why rationalization arguments dominated organizational theory initially Among these were a legal environment that made focusing on individuals dif cult and a political context that located social problems and their solutions in the environment rather than in individual actors He says that in recent years 1980s and 1990s there has been resurgence in individual actor models and an interest in individual behavior within organizations In particular he discusses the effect affectivity or positive or negative feelings about one s job and position within an organization has on individual behavior and resultant organizational performance Among the factors in aifectivity are extraversion agreeableness conscientiousness emotional stability and openness to experience In discussing affectivity Pfeffer discusses problems with such a perspective Among them are l disagreement about the characteristics included in affectivity 2 the relative stability of dispositions across time 3 what factors if any cause changes in dispositions over time 4 de nitions of dispositions 5 the strength of effect of dispositions and 6 lack of controls over other situational factors The last point situational factors Pfeffer discusses in great detail including how situational factors might interact with dispositions He argues that time and place shifting organizational landscapes and individuals in positions of authority outside the organization such as politicians and policy makers all interact with dispositions to determine action within an organization March discusses certain types of dispositions which he calls tastes Tastes are individual preferences for some course of action In some cases tastes interfere with individual action within the constraint of an organization Tastes are absolute relevant to daily tasks relatively stable over time relatively consistent across situations precise and exogenous Tastes in uence individual choice by helping to determine among other things whether an actor will work toward an optimal solution to a problem or will work for one that is merely satisfying Tastes may also in uence how and to what extent an actor works within a given organizational structure to achieve organizational goals Also tastes determine the extent to which a person will pursue herhis individual interests relative to herhis pursuit of organizational interests Pfeffer uses all this as a sort of springboard into discussing nonrationality in behavior In particular Pfeffer compares five models of behavior economic social retrospectively rational moral and cognitive interpretive The economic model is of course the most purely rational Social models discuss the embeddedness of organizations in larger social systems which has implications for both organizational and individual behavior Retrospective rationality is a model that assumes people and organizations act in fact or appearance in accordance with their previous actions so that their behavior is or appears to be consistent Moral models assume that people not only pursue what is pleasurable to them but that they also have a sense of morality of what is right and just which also guides their behavior Finally the cognitive model of behavior focuses on perception processes and the extent to which people separate cognition from objective reality March and Simon later in their article discuss how organization develop programs Programs are patterns of decision rules that restrict individual choices and guide organizational action Programs may specify communication patterns inventory control systems organizational interactions with environmental stimuli etc In a generalized form a program might be if action A happens then an individual or organization will take action B in response Programs may become more complex by specifying a set of conditions that must be present and based on the set of conditions different solutions are dictated Programs often work in conjunction with other programs and not all programs lead directly to overall group goals Rather programs may lead to 14 the development of subgroup goals which contribute to the larger overall group goals In some instances also programs may lead to the development of subgroup goals that con ict with the larger overall organizational goals For this reason just as Pfeffer stated about individual behavior interactions with systemic andor situational features it is important to examine subgroup goals to ensure that they do not have deleterious effects on overall organizational goals As March indicates in another paper programs in limited individual choice and organizational action also inhibit rationality To be purely rational one must have open an array of options among them being the optimal one Programs restrict away in a sense ambiguity and also restrict away the ability of people or organizations to predict and adapt to future changes In some cases programs may limit choices to satisfactory ones at the exclusion of optimal ones At the least programs prevent actors and in some ways organizations for switching from a less optimal set of decision rules to a more optimal one March proposes alternative forms of rationality then to help better explain individual behavior and organizational adaptation He first specifies two types of rationality calculated and systematic Calculated rationality depends upon explicit calculations of consequences in terms of objectives Some subtypes of calculated rationality are limited rationality contextual rationality game rationality and process rationality Systematic rationality addresses rationality that develops over time in the context of a certain system Systematic rationality with its subtypes of adaptive rationality selected rationality and posterior rationality accumulates over time and across people and organizations Cohen March and Olsen go to perhaps an extreme in discussion the limits of rationality They argue that there is little rationality in individual behavior They propose instead a garbage can approach where people throw all possible solutions to a given problem into a mental garbage can and then go hunting for the one they want There is a pattern to this type of decision making although from the outside and sometimes even from the inside it appears as though decision making is anarchical in nature All of the authors make good arguments for the limits of rationality providing clear examples along the way It seems likely that people do act in a way similar to what Cohen March and Olsen argue but in an even more organized way Rather than a garbage can individual choice might be viewed as a tool chest of resources from which people draw In this analogy various tools in this case decision rules are best suited for different tasks In fact in some cases more than one tool decision rule may be necessary to complete a certain task For instance one decision rule might move an actor or organization toward an optimal solution but at a certain point it may be bene cial ie more optimizing to switch to a new decision rule thereby boosting optimization Taking this view of individual or organizational action might also enable us to re conceptualize the idea of programs and the extent to which programs limit choice and action It might be bene cial to link programs together so that people use one program to move toward a given solution but then switch to another program to complete the solution in much the same way that individuals may shift decision rules and increase optimization so to might organizations better link their programs and switch from one to another to increase optimization Finally working in both dispositions and tastes seems like important and fruitful work although more probably should be done with social psychological conceptions of affectivity taste and interpersonal dispositions than seems to have been done The interaction among personal disposition and program as well as how job satisfaction might affect the likely of an actor to use a given program pursue a certain goal etc are all important It seems important to include social psychology more so than past researchers have done because of the relatively new but cumulative body of research on affect motivation and sentiments within small groups research traditions Scott Fitzgerald Week 3 This week s readings deal with the limits of rationality and organizational decision making The chapters by Pfeffer provide a useful overview of competing theories of behavior and organizations As such I spend considerable time reviewing the key points of the major theories as well as providing critiques throughout Ithen proceed to address issues raised in the other readings and conclude with a couple of general comments and concerns Pfeffer 1997 discusses the ongoing debate regarding the desirability of situationalist and dispositional perspectives on the causes of behavior Historically speaking the situationalist perspectives has dominated organizational studies In general this perspectives provide structural explanations of behavior that focus on how affect 39 quot 39 39 39 I J39 39J 39 behavior is seen as aresponse to environmental stimuli and cues In contrast the dispositional perspective turns our attention towards how individuallevel factors eg personality in uence behavior In light of this debate there seems to be a growing number of researchers who advocate for an interactionist perspective that acknowledges that situations and individual traits interact in important and theoretically meaningful ways Pfeffer then turns our attention to five prevalent models of behavior For our purposes it is important to present and critique the general approach and major assumptions of these stylized models First economic models are characterized by assumptions of bounded rationality equilibrium conditions methodological individualism and view employees as effortaverse These models have been on a variety of grounds It has been argued that a assumptions of equilibrium are unjustified because it ignores the effects of previous decisions on present and future decisions ie path dependency b the models are too removed from actual organizational life c the emphasis on individualism ignores the effects of organizations and d the models have difficulty making unique predictions Second social models are characterized by a focus on the embedded nature of behavior In contrast to the atomistic assumptions of the economic models this perspective assumes an ongoing in uence and interaction between members of organizations These interactions have important effects For example perceptions of the work environment and taste ie preference structures are in uenced by what other people say Some of the important theories within the social models are resource dependency network and industrial theories Extant research within this tradition has suffered from methodological limitations and poor measurement For example some studies have employed networks language but have used only crude quantitative measures of networks eg number of connections that do not address issues of strength duration or effectiveness of these ties The third set of models discussed by Pfeffer is retrospectively rational models These models differ from standard models of rationality because they assume that people act first and rationalized the behavior later There are two basic types of models within this tradition Cognitive models focus on selfperception and the ways that individuals attempt to deal with cognitive dissonance by aligning their current beliefs with their previous actions The social psychological models take this a step further and posit that in order to maintain a sense of selfidentity and consistency individuals may increase their level of commitment to a course of action Both of these approaches are substantially different from economic models that assume actions are motivated by extrinsic rewards In contrast to rational choice models retrospectively rational models suggest that individuals may persist in a course of action to justify their previous commitments rather than as a result of stepwise costbenefit analysis The fourth set of models moral models assume that individuals are concerned with pursuing pleasure and morality This perspective expands on traditional economic models that emphasize the pursuit of pleasure as the key criteria in decision making From this perspective the pursuit of pleasure is important but it will not be pursued at all costs For example since individuals are also concerned with acting morally the means to the ends and the effects of actions on social collectivities are also considered The final set of models interpretivecognitive moalels focus on sensemaking and perception processes This perspective often deals with organizations as existing in the minds of its members Methodologically cognitive mapping techniques are employed in an attempt to map the shared cognitive structures of the members This approach differs from the social models by treating the cognitive structures as the variable of interest rather than the social processes and forms of organizational life There appears to be some questionable aspects to the use of cognitive mapping For example Bourgan Weick and Binkhorst 1997 produced a consensual view of the orchestra by taking an average of each member s causal structure I am not convinced that an average is equivalent to a consensus March 1958 develops the notion of bounded rationality by contrasting the rationality of the ideal type administrative man who makes decisions within specific organizational structures that limit the possible alternatives and the rationality of classical ideal type economic man who makes decisions with complete knowledge and unbounded alternatives A key component of March s criticism of the classical approach a type of economic model in Pfeffer s typology is that organizations and social environments are treated as unexplained exogenous factors March claims that a theory of organizations must explain these factors rather than treat them as exogenous variables To 18 this end March argues that there is a tendency for members of an organization to view decisions in terms of subgoals rather than overarching organizational goals This tendency is reinforced within the individual decisionmaker the organizational unit and the environment of the organization unit This tendency leads to selective perceptions and information gathering and thus bounded rationality This theme is expanded in March 1988 where the importance of tastes on decision making as well as other forms of rationality are explored in depth In terms of classi cation March s argument in both articles contains elements consistent with Pfeffer s discussion of economic models and social models On the one hand the concern with bounded rationality and individual decision making is consistent with the economic approach On the other hand the discussion of the interplay between individuals the organization and the environment suggest an interactive model suggests an embedded nature of behavior Cohen March and Olsen 1988 develop a garbage can model of organizational choice This model views organizational choice as the result of unique combinations of problems and solutions at a given time and place Cohen et al develop a computer simulation that generates hypothesis of organizational choice This article represents an important departure from our previous reading for it represents an attempt to formalize the theory being developed To this end the authors explicitly state their assumptions label and define the variables and generate testable hypothesis Despite these advancements at least two weakness are apparent First after lying the groundwork of the theory and stating the computer generated hypotheses they attempt to apply the theory to Universities To this end they state that University decisionmaking frequently does not resolve problems Choices are often made by ight or oversight University decision processes are sensitive to increases in load 1988313 It is not clear whether they are presenting these as I 39 or I 39 Second and perhaps less crucial the results of the effects presents in Table 145 are presented with numerical values but the scale and meaning of these values are not addressed Do these values have an interpretable meaning or are they merely necessary for computer simulation In conclusion this week s readings of the limits of rationality and organized decision making illustrate an interesting aspect of organizational theorizing Overall researchers seem to be concerned with applied research in order to aid organizations This is apparent in both behavioral theories that are based on empirical observation and normative theories that attempt to isolate optimal organization characteristics If our goal is to develop strong theories than it seems that a fruitful direction for research is to focus on formalizing our theories without concern for their applicability One final note it is interesting that the rational choice models we have examined attempt to explain actual human behavior as rational In the political sociology literature 19 this position is rarely taken Instead many rational choice theorists adopt What I call a formalized metaphor approach to rational choice That is the models specify that individuals act as if they followed specified logics or rational processes but these researchers do not go as far as to say people actually do these things This formalized metaphor approach seems to me to be more warranted than its counterpart Is this characterization of the organizations literature accurate If so can that position be defended 20 Christopher D Moore Week 3 Although I do not want to spend too much time with what I am about to bring up I feel that since I did find a cause for bringing the reading for this class into the discussion for 34221 I should brie y summarize what convinced me to do so and why my comments then are appropriate for this course also For those who do not know 34221 is special topics social psychology seminar on Affect Control Theory ACT being offered this semester in the Sociology department by Dr Dawn Robinson ACT Heise 1979 suggests that individuals act upon their environment to maintain consistency between their personal fundamental expected relatively consistent and normative sentiments and the transient stimulus induced sentiments in a given situation see March 1988275 on tastes The mechanics of ACT parallels Weick s 1964 model of cognitive dissonance 7 both fall loosely into retrospective rationalization and interpretivecognitive models ACT also incorporates elements of the moral model 7 as characterized by Pfeffer 1997669 737 While ACT has been used to primarily explain individual behavior March amp Simon s 1958 selfproclaimed central theme of their work was that the basic features of organizational structure and function are derivative of characteristics of individuallevel problem solving and rational action 169 thus it seems appropriate to discuss it here March and Simon 1958 169 see also Simon 1957 March 1988 provide a conceptualization of bounded rationality for decisionmaking Both March amp Simon and Heise claim that individuals must simplify situations subjectively define events to comprehend them Heise suggests that individuals construct events according to what they perceive as optimal for reestablishing congruency between immediate feelings and established sentiments Thus a searching process is conducted through the individual s memory of appropriate possibilities for action and the individual may create and explore logical constructions if the situation is novel March amp Simon on the other hand suggest that humans do not typically seek to optimize the outcomes of their actions in this way Instead they seek actions that satis ce rather than optimize according to an established based on previous experience normative criteria For more on sufficing see March s 19882856 discussion of the optimal ambition problem Basically they are saying that people stop at good enough rather than attempt perfection I nd this model more satisfying and plausible and Ifeel that this relates to ACT in that it suggests if correct that people have a sentiment threshold surrounding their fundamental sentiment that they will try to construct situations to fall within Note that this is different from saying that individuals are purely trying to minimize the distance between their present transient and 21 fundamental sentiments see Heise 197920 Rather it suggests that individuals minimize to the point that the gap is within an established range 0k enough of this topic and on to keeping with the readings for this class alone Pfeffer 1997 7 Ch 3 provides five models for behavior the economic model social model to include networkexchange retrospectively rational model moral model and an interpretive cognitive model each with its own set of assumptions and implications only some of which Iwill highlight To begin with economic models presume that individuals are opportunistic Specifically every individual is self interested and therefore untrustworthy to act nor expected to without the imposition of guiding rewards and sanctions on the behalf of the larger organization For me this brings to mind the analogy of who polices the police To illustrate since economic models use opportunistic assumptions to justify the existence of authority hierarchies what serves as a check on the opportunistic nature of the chief executive The pure rationality of economic models is based on little empirical data This is not surprising for such a scheme does not satisfactorily explain or predict actual behavior in the real world For example organizations do not always act in accordance to rational alternatives rather actions taken may be based on established standard operating procedures SOPs that may be culturally based 7 ie in a setting I am all too familiar with the phrase There s the right way the wrong way and the Marine way around here we do things the Marine way is not uncommon While the organizational speaker in this example may in fact say such words fully believing that doing things the Marine way supports cultural congruence and therefore is good and rational for the organization the actions taken may be in fact not in the best interest of the organization or the individual Additionally contained within works organized under the moral model approach by Pfeffer 1997 behavior such as returning a lost wallet cash intact and empirical studies on the free rider problem and voting behavior suggest that pure self interest does not always prevail In fact in studies concerned with the latter behavior voting measures of moral obligation accounted for 3040 percent of the variance in voter turnout Hirschleifer 1985 and Barry 1978 7 see Pfeffer p 74 Pfeffer 1997 points out that what is often sighted as the proof for the validity of economic models 7 namely the pervasiveness of efficiencyorientated organizational structures and behaviors creates a tautology for it is explained that they exists because of their efficiency inefficient arrangements do not last49 Despite the shortcomings of economic models rationality as a characteristic of behavior is highly culturally valued The economic model itself is attractive for its simplicity and sterility Specifically if natura economic forces govern behavior and exchange questions of coercion exploitation etc are dismissed Pfeffer p 54 Partially as a result of this organizational structures and procedures are often crafted to appear rational in order to attain legitimacy 22 MampR 1977 the purpose of MampR s article was to suggest that organizational structure is best understood not as actually rational per say but instead best understood as designed subject to normative social pressures to appear to be rational and consistent with other organizational structuressee Pfeffer p535 March amp Simon 1958 suggest that organizational actors are motivated towards achieving subgoals by virtue of the division of labor imposed by organizational structure These subgoals are determined by the perceptions of the individuals occupying each position in the structure Thus while a particular organizational actor may pursue a subgoal more or less rationally such as increasing pro t their actions may in fact be detrimental to the organization as the consequences of the action may hinder one of the organizations higher goals such as maximizing short term profits only to diminish chances of long term survivability see also game rationality March 1988 Pure economic models are just ill equipped to explain such behavior Conversely social models of organizational behavior for example focus on the relationships between individuals in organizational settings as opposed to individual characteristics Speci cally while individuals are still seen as able to act in line with their perceived best interests their preferences opportunities for action the subsequent consequences of their actions even the social capital they may possess are all conditioned by their position within the social structure In taking this approach social models expand their unit of analysis to include organizations as entities instead of factoring down organizational behavior to that of the individual However while this model is useful in explaining how for example action decisions organizational structure and other behaviors diffuse across social actors it does not have much to say about how the various practices or structures arise in the first place Pfeffer 199765 Also fitting within this orientation is March s 1988 notion of ideas of contextual rationality which focus on other attention objects in the actor s environment and more specifically the opportunity costs of ignoring one situation and attending to another 272 On a concluding note for Pfeffer the assumptions of all models he presents presume cognitive processes of various kinds However what distinguishes what he calls the interpretive cognitive model of behavior is its focus on the sense making and perception process and the extent to which researchers using this approach on occasion separate cognition from objective reality 199777 also see March 1988 on ideas of process rationality It is the shift of focus to the process of cognition that separates this model from the rest perhaps the true home of theories such as ACT Note that the feedback loop in ACT can be linked to March s 1988 ideas ofposterior rationality March amp Simon 1958 define action as being goal orientated and adaptive However since the cognitive definition of a given situation is approximate and only a perceptional model of reality see also Pfeffer and ideas of limited rationality March 23 1988 only limited elements of a system of behavior can be adapted at any one time note that the MampS suggest that both cognitive and affective processes are interwoven into the de nition of a situation 151 When an individual encounters a new situation or an ambiguous goal 7 see March 1988 their search for actions is part random and part sufficing When confronted with a common situation a routine response performance program is enacted ie automated tasks In organizations adaptation of systems to a novel situation may take the form of an improvement to a particular performance program or selecting between established existing programs for the task seldom can both be accomplished at the same time see also March 1988 on ideas of adaptive rationality This ceterus paribus approach is argued to be fundamental to understanding the relatively stable nature of organizational structure Performance programs themselves serve two main functions they are part of the control system in an organization by specifying SOPs and they serve to coordinate and make predictable interdepartmental relations see also March 1988 on ideas of selected rationality March s 1988 romantic vision is interesting in that he predicts that the next 20 years of our search for a way to make sense of behavior will be centered on how beliefs about future preferences are generated and utilized While some steps have been made more work is needed Finally in Cohen et al s 1988 discussion of an alternative garbage can characterization of an organization as a collection of choices looking for problems provides a good picture of a structure designed to maintain itself not only beyond its members but beyond current and even foreseeable problems The partial uncoupling of problems and choices is a major feature of this model 323 In essence the idea of an organizationtype as presented is a selflegitimating entity that can create reasons for its existence but also one that is sensitive to its current stock of competent individuals total system load and combination of available problems and choices 24 Phyllis Rippeyoung Week 3 The causes of individual behavior within an organization have been a muchdiscussed subject Early in the study of organizations theorists argued for a rational model for behavior They asserted that mentally competent people are rational and therefore make decisions based on what would bring about the optimal result However social theorists such as James G March and Herbert A Simon put forth the idea that people are not purely rational but that they follow a bounded rationality They argued that people do not do what is necessarily going to turn into the best outcome because people cannot anticipate all of the potentialities of a situation Rather individuals will make guesses as to possible outcomes and then do the least required of them to get a preferred outcome Thus people are not looking for the best outcome but for an outcome that is good enough A main problem with the idea of pure rationality was that it did not take into account individual s preferences and tastes The theory assumed that there are universal truths and desired outcomes that would make all people behave the same way within given circumstances However March and Simon later make it clear that that is not the case People will sometimes make decision not because they are stupid as the rationalists would argue but because they see a personal benefit to behaving that way Within an organization it becomes apparent that if there are ambiguous positive outcomes and if behavior cannot be neatly predicated understanding behavior of employees so that positive behaviors can be emphasized becomes more difficult Additionally as Jeffrey Pfeffer points out the locus of behavioral instigation is difficult to locate He discusses the differing arguments as to whether behavior and attitudes are caused by environmental or individual differences Thus does a person leave a job because the workplace is having a negative impact on the individual s life or because that person has a generally negative outlook on life and would be unsatisfied no matter where she would work Pfeffer also points to five alternative potential models of behavior economic social retrospectively rational moral and interpretive cognitive The economic model this model involves issues of rationality as well and encompasses the following main points behavior is presumed to be rational institutions are aggregates of individual preferences and there is an emphasis on comprehensiveness and often proceed from an assumption of equilibrium pp 445 This model sees individuals as selfinterested and as effort 25 averse which makes it necessary to invoke incentive programs to encourage work p 46 The social model looks at the social context determining behavior People are seen to make decisions based on how they have seen others succeed which is determined by extensive social networks The social model sees behavior as linked to environmental factors rather than to individual preferences p 55 The retrospectively rational model suggests that individual sand organizations will take actions to make sense of or to appear to be consistent with previous choices This model does not require external incentives and actually is hindered by them because by not providing such enticements individuals will come to believe that they are doing the work because they enjoy it The fourth model the moral model of behavior argues that people do not seek out only pleasure but they also strive to be moral People work and perform altruistic acts because that makes them feel good and no other incentive is needed Thus people have more complex goals than simple selfinterest The final model the interpretive cognitive model of behavior is premised on the idea that behaviors and outcomes are better understood if we focus on the cognitive processes a that in uence those behaviors and outcomes p 77 Managers are in the business of managing symbols and abstract concepts of what work is supposed to be rather than managing workers Thus by creating these images of what work is managers can create abstract rationales to work Clearly there are many ways of looking at organizational behavior Bounded rationality is not necessarily the correct way of viewing behavior A problem with all of these approaches is that there is little that can be empirically tested It is difficult for individuals to know themselves what the causes of their own behavior is and their causes may change from time to time March tries to prove rationality is the answer but showing rationality in seemingly disorganized and nonrational organizations such as major universities in his Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice However simply pointing out that there are rational connections between behaviors and outcomes does not necessarily prove that the individuals and the organization s behaviors came out of a rational approach Granted 26 he shows that the rationality occurs by more than simple chance I still am not convinced however that there is a proven cause and effect of rational behavior 27 Dong Joon Shin Week 3 We can consider several causal lines in studying organization N E Individual 9 Organization 9 Social Circumstances Social Structures First causal line we can think of is the one from individual to organization That is we can argue that individual member behaviors or characteristics in the organization determine the organization s behaviors or characteristics Ithink this is the basic causality on which many scholars theories especially economic model or rational choice theory are based This causal argument implies that organizational behaviors are sum of individual behaviors In other words this model tends to deny the notion that gathering of people is more than the sum of those individuals Moreover in this model the effects of organization on individuals are mostly ignored This assumption might be problematic because individual behaviors are affected by various elements of their surroundings In other words once an individual is in the organization the characteristics or behaviors of the organization might in uence individual s behavior Therefore we can think of reversal causal line too It is most probable that organization s behaviors or characteristics exert in uence on individual members behaviors within the organization I think most organizational theories acknowledge this causal line while they show some discrepancies depending on which starting point individual or organization they emphasize In March and Simon s articles we can see that they pay attention to this causality although their main focus is the first causal line In other words they consider feedback effect between individual members and organization largely stressing the effect of individual behavior on the organization s behavior Pfeffer s review on the person situation debate is also relevant to this context This debate focuses on the cause of individual behavior Pfeffer shows that individual disposition cannot be enough cause for individual behavior He suggests that we may consider situations where individuals are placed and furthermore various interaction effects between individual disposition and situation to understand or predict individual behaviors in the organization Here we can easily imagine that organization itself is a crucial situation as an cause of individual behavior If we adopt more macro perspective we can think of the effect of overall characteristics of society on the organizations which are located in the society We may say that organization is affected by its environments For example Weber argues that overall cultural changes in western societies rationalization or Protestantism produced the unique type of organizations which have high level of 28 rationality We can also think of the reversal causal line For example Weber claims that those highly rationalized organizations bureaucracy characterize the overall landscape of the society Furthermore he predicts that these tremendous in uences of organizations will put individuals in the iron cage Here we can say that Weber s rather complex causality envisages the feedback relationship between society and organizations and consequent society s and organization s effects on individual Pfeffer presents five models of behavior the economic model the social model the retrospectively rational model the moral model and a cognitive interpretive model Each model has unique perspective on the cause of individual behavior Broadly speaking however Ithink that all models are largely concern about the first causal line the one from individual to organization They seem to believe that if we understand individual member behavior we can predict organization s behavior For example if individual behaviors are rational the organizational behaviors also become rational because individual behavior determines organization s behavior This argument could be problematic when the second causal line from organization to individual are considered We can also say that rationality of organization characterize the rationality of individuals Therefore most models ignore the emergent characteristics of organization itself to some extent I think the logic described above is most prominent in the economic model This model assumes that behavior is rational and oriented to maximize the individual s utility and that institutions or organizations are seen as aggregations of individual preferences and actions I think this perspective tries to explain the rational organization with the individuals rational behaviors Therefore it focuses more on the rationality in individual members rather than the rational characteristics of organizations Weber largely concerned about the rationality in the organizational framework structure rather than the individual s rational behavior We can say that Weber may implicitly acknowledges the individual s rational behavior but it is not unlikely when we infer from his argument in The Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism that irrationality of individuals protestant ethics caused rationality of institution capitalism Therefore Ithink that economic model is more close to Taylor s perspective It appears that this model presumes the rational characteristics of organizations Therefore whether the organization is rational or not is not the problem in this model Each decisions of organization could be irrational but the overall organizational framework as Weber envisages is already rational Therefore this model sets the scope condition that organization has rational characteristics This could be one of the assumptions but I think this is rather scope condition because there are irrational organization in other period of times and other spaces 29 It seems to me that the economic model is maybe overly pure model This pure model can be advantageous in formal theory construction but could have problem in predicting the phenomena in real world settings The various in uences from outside on the individual s rational behavior might not be simply ignored as just noise Ithink this is why there is little empirical evidence about the economic model as Pfeffer reported However we cannot simply reject the validity of this model because the lack of empirical support may be originated form the difficulty in making clean research designs successfully controlling various contagious effects from the outside of the model s pure idea Ithink March and Simon s articles are the series of efforts to overcome those limitation in the economic models They claims that the classical theory of organization undeservedly assume the perfect rationality of individuals and argue that most rationality has cognitive limits Individuals do not have every alternative choice and do not have every information and constantly confront with uncertainty Therefore the problem solving activity tends to be routinized and the activity adopt satisfactory standards rather than optimal standards because of those inherent limitation in human rationality Performance programs are developed within the organization to cope with these problems We may say that the programs are the routinized sets of code conduct to solve problems in the organization Ithink these performance programs have similarity with the organizational framework Weber thinks of If these programs are rationally devised and operated organization behavior can be rational regardless of each individual s limited rationality But this cannot guarantee the best decisionmaking in each incident March seems to argue that we have to adopt the image of the bounded rationality rather than the perfect rationality which is assumed by classical economic model That is because human decisionmaking is limited by the cognitive capabilities of human beings Then organization s functions may be providing sets of framework to help individuals to reach best decision with their bounded rationality Cohen March and Olsen s Garbage can model seem to be an effort to take into account the noises based on the gt7 4 economic model The noise consists of problematic preferences unclear technology and uid participation They provide 4 key variables a stream of choices a stream of problems a rate of ow of solutions and a stream of energy from participants Based on these variables they models access structure and decision structure with matrix presentation and formulated mathematical function I think this model is a clear improvement over the original classical economic theory in that they seriously consider the effects of other elements in outside without violating the core assumption of the economic model Most importantly they acknowledge the effect of organizational characteristics in individual and organizational decisionmaking for example the effects of organization s size and the level of monetary resources Therefore they are taking into account the second causal line from organization to individual too 30 Other models criticize the economic model for its empirical validity The social model of behavior argues that we have to pay attention to the relations among individuals and among organizations to understand the individual behavior and organizational behavior This is somewhat strong argument from sociological perspective because sociology is largely interested in the relations among social actors Individual behavior is not determined solely by individual s own rationale I don t think this model reject the assumption of human rationality in the economic model completely Rather it seems to argue that individual or organization tends to take into account the relations and its implications to other individuals or to other organizations when they calculate for their decisions and behaviors Pfeffer argues that main problem of this model is that it is hard to measure the relations or the networks However this does not means that we cannot measure the concept therefore this model seems to show proper path for organizational theorists to take Another important model is the moral model of behavior Etzioni argues that individuals pursue not only pleasure but also morality and that individuals choose means not just goals I think this model directly touches the issue of the core assumption of rationality This model may think the assumption on the rationality of individual behavior is simply inappropriate Or it may think of another de nition for the term of rationality This idea is related with Durkeimian perspective of emergent characteristics of society or gathering of people and morality Once society or organization is formed it exerts a unique power over individual such as moral duty Therefore we can think of the second causal line form organization to individual as Pfeffer suggests that understanding the emergence of norms and moral conceptions in organizations and examining their effects on behavior are important research tasks 31 Christoph Weismayer Week 3 Explaining Behavior There seem to be two separate staring points for effectively evaluating the behavior within organizations First there may be individual dispositions and secondly there may be situational dispositions In other words behavior may be determined by the person that acts or certain situations determine how every or most people will act In the past only a few pieces of research have successfully identified permanent individual traits that have an impact on behavior For instance only a few traits seem to distinguish leaders from nonleaders Also job satisfaction seems to be somewhat predetermined by traits Most pieces of research in this direction seem to have a weakness in terms of causality It seems at least conceivable that a given role induces certain traits of the person to which a role is attributed Research concerning traits seems to suggest that some traits are genetically predetermined while others are caused by the environment Methodologically it seems like this approach is also a victim to several measurement problems Sometimes single item indicators are used to describe complex constructs Moreover the validity of constructs is questionable and constructs do not seem to be stable over time definitions are imprecise and the overall variation explained through these pieces of research is small Then there often is a lack of control variables I think behavioral analysis is a discipline where structural equation modeling would bring certain advantages First it allows for a factor analysis to be included in the model and it allows the user to program models where some of the paths in the model are simply allowed to correlate 7 without assuming arbitrary causalities Furthermore it seems like behavioral disciplines have to work hard in order to establish valid and stable constructs like the standardized depression survey listed in the GSS Ithink that the energy and the methodological chaos in this vibrant field of research may actually lead to these advances I am not sure if the suggested lessons to be learned would help in this sense To study variations across cultures is certainly an ambitious goal but should in my opinion only be attempted when stable valid measurements have been established 5 Models of Behavior 32 The economic model is based on the sunk cost net bene t and opportunity cost rule It is a simple mathematically appealing elegant approach but there are certain problems with it It is conservative due to tautological reasoning which tries to make sense of behavior ex post well if this is what they do it has to be rational and the human picture it portrays is negative 7 it presupposes transaction costs because of market failures hierarchy and control are good ways to organize people agency theory and free rider problem However I do disagree with Ritzer on this first it is conceivable to explain altruism and the like with utility maximizing behavior if moral satisfaction is seen as an utility function Secondly Ihave my doubts about the research that suggests that free riding is actually not a problem I wonder if the experiments were conducted in only a short time frame because it is possible that people start free riding when they realize it is safe and they have not been caught in a long time Ritzer hypothesizes that this model dominates due to ideologically conservative orientation and due to the dominance of this approach in elite schools The social model what people say and the environment in general in uences people and personal relations become more important in in uencing decisions and behavior under uncertainty Social capital and maybe cultural capital 7 a grad student from Sweden with 2000 may have different opportunities than a grad student with 2000 from Pakistan plays an important role in accessing resources and achieving promotions Ties withinbetween organizations are very useful to explain the dissemination of innovations or changes such as the spread of poison bills Network access also predicts survival of organizations very well This is of course in sharp contrast to the rational choice model which is the underlying paradigm for the Capital Asset Pricing Model which helps to generate a price or value for a given project or company under certain interest rate and risk assumptions Under these economic rules any project with a positive NPV will receive funding if everybody is rational 7 however this does not seem to be the case Some of the problems Ritzer identifies are measurement problems like for instance measurement of the intensity of ties The retrospectively rational model people want to be consistent with past decisions which results in a cooler cognitive process and a warmer social process I still think that as a variant of rational choice cost and utilities of breaking with past decisions could be easily incorporated in a rational choice approach 7 rather than calling this a separate approach 33 The moral model seems to suggest that pleasure utility is on a different level than moral obligation 7 because these categories are so different However by observing behavior one could try to formalize the intrinsic costs of morals as some of the following authors probably would The interpretative cognitive model human judgment is not always rational and it argues for a relativist approach to the understanding of behavior Although this approach may not be very popular in the current environment that the social sciences are in Ithink this approach has a certain appeal to practitioners and it should have an appeal to qualitative social scientists as well First this approach is distinct and not a derivative of rational choice and could thus serve as a complement to the approaches which stay close or are derived from a rational perspective Intuitively it makes sense to me that corporate culture is a tool for operations which increasingly shorten job descriptions and manuals in order to make use of the intelligence of empowered employees and direct their behavior in complex organizations through the communications of myths stories and corporate identity Cognitive Limits of Rationality The features of rationality clearly defined alternatives utility function is present and a decision equals execution is illusionary Men and women the author forgot about them are satisfactory rational at best In organizations performance programs can be found by observation interviews and study of the literature Performance programs usually specify the degree of discretion that people have These programs are interrelated horizontally and vertically Bounded rationality leads to subgoals which give simplified behavioral instructions to actors These directions may be reinforced through selective exposure and in group communication I appreciate this approach because although it is from the late 50s it encompasses a complex view of human behavior it includes mechanistic forms of behavior programs as well as social components It is remarkable that buffer inventory a concept which would be deemed irrational under Japanese kanban systems now dominating America as an example for decisio making processes Bounded Rationality 34 Rationality involves guesses about consequences and about future preferences and maybe it leads to worse results if intelligent individuals apply the rules of rational choice to a problem Humans are naturally limited in their rational behavior because the brain has limits in terms of stress memory and computational capability The author suggests certain dichotomies like contextual vs adaptive rationality game vs selected rationality and process vs posterieur rationality In a way he argues for a weaker rationality paradigm because tastes and preferences are not absolut not relevant not stable not consistent not precise not exogenous My critique is that all these uncertainties can be integrated in a decision making model via probability rules and they may be unobserveable at the individual level but they may be effective at the aggregate level The Grabage Can Model I am very suspicious of mathematical games like the models presented in this paper since these models as simple and straightforward as they may be presented are sometimes in my opinion in the danger of simply approximating plausible outcomes by changing the program until it becomes quotrealisticquot Therefore I am not sure of their academic value 35 Stacy Wittrock Week 3 This week s readings all had to do with theories of bounded rationality The theory of bounded rationality developed in response to a criticism of the theories of rationality The theories of rationality would argue the structural arrangements in organizations are tools to achieve the goals of the organization more efficiently or are tools to create more disciplined workers Scott 53 A criticism of the theories of rationality is that individuals are not able to be rational in their behavior all of the time The theories of bounded rationality argue that while the goals of the organization may be rational the behavior of the individuals within the organization may not seem rational Human beings have cognitive limits and therefore they are unable to have perfectly rational behavior in every situation The theories of bounded rationality argue that the individuals within the organization will develop decisionmaking procedures that are the best given the constraints of the situation March 270 These decisionmaking procedures make not seem rational if the situational constraints were removed March 270 The cognitive limits of the rational actor are examined in March and Simon s chapter The rational actor is one who makes the optima choices in an environment that is clearly and specifically defined They point out that while many organizations have clearly specified goals of the organization the individual actor will encounter situations that are filled with uncertainty and ambiguity In those situations the actor will settle for what they see is the best solution given the constraints that they are under March and Simon seem to have the same assumption that Taylor had about humans not being very intelligent in that they argue humans are only able to handle programs of limited complexity Knowing that there are cognitive limits of the rational actor as argued by the bounded rationality theories Pfeffer s chapters discuss to possible causes and or explanations for individual behavior In chapter 2 Pfeffer discusses the emperical evidence in the debate between situational and dispositional causes of behavior The empirical evidence is mixed but there seems to be fairly strong evidence that an individual s disposition does have an affect on how the view there environment Some also argue that it is the interaction between disposition characteristics and situational in uences that accounts for behavior in an organization 37 This latter argument seems to support the bounded rationality perspective more than the former In chapter three of his book Pfeffer examined five models of behavior which included the economic model the social model the retrospectively rational model the moral model and the interpretive cognitive model Each of these models emphasizes a 36 certain aspect of behavior and each has their own problems The variation in the explanations of behavior emphasizes that there no consensus on what the causes or explanations of behavior are A criticism of the bounded rationality perspective would be that even though it seems to acknowledge the limitations individual actors to act in a purely rational manner it still argues that they will act in a rational manner given there circumstances Although March does seem to acknowledge that there will be times that behavior will seem irrational he seems to attribute this irrationality to situational constraints Thus emphasis still seems to be on the rationality of the behavior given the circumstances In addition as Pfeffer s chapter discussed it is dif cult to accurately measure stable dispositional characteristics as opposed to moods or states Furthermore as Pfeffer states the models used to explain individual behavior seem to assume that the causes of behavior are stable rather than changing over time and place Pfeffer 41 Also the bounded rationality perspective seems to have the assumption of lack of intelligence on the workers part as did the rationality perspective 37


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All subscriptions to StudySoup are paid in full at the time of subscribing. To change your credit card information or to cancel your subscription, go to "Edit Settings". All credit card information will be available there. If you should decide to cancel your subscription, it will continue to be valid until the next payment period, as all payments for the current period were made in advance. For special circumstances, please email


StudySoup has more than 1 million course-specific study resources to help students study smarter. If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for, our customer support team can help you find what you need! Feel free to contact them here:

Recurring Subscriptions: If you have canceled your recurring subscription on the day of renewal and have not downloaded any documents, you may request a refund by submitting an email to

Satisfaction Guarantee: If you’re not satisfied with your subscription, you can contact us for further help. Contact must be made within 3 business days of your subscription purchase and your refund request will be subject for review.

Please Note: Refunds can never be provided more than 30 days after the initial purchase date regardless of your activity on the site.