Modes of Explanation in Organization Theory

Andreas Georg Scherer

in The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199275250
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Modes of Explanation in Organization Theory

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  • Business and Management
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour
  • Research Methods



Organization theory (OT) is concerned with explaining the genesis, existence, functionality, and the transformation of organizations, and by doing so, it is also concerned with influencing organizational practice. OT knowledge differs from individuals' lay knowledge by its systematic and methodic characteristics. There are many organizational theories in textbooks, scholarly journals, etc., which are entirely different from each other. To deal with this variety of topics, the current literature suggests a categorization of themes at different levels of analysis. Depending on whether theories deal with the behaviour of individuals in organizations, with the behaviour of a whole organization, or with relationships among organizations, they could be distinguished into micro, meso, and macro theories of organization. Two distinctions are important in this respect: the research interest of the researcher and the methods used. These distinctions are important to understand the characteristics of different modes of explanations.

Keywords: organization theory; genesis; existence; functionality; transformation

Article.  14723 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Research Methods

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