Article

Organization Theory and Ethics: Varieties and Dynamics of Constrained Optimization

Richard P. Nielsen

in The Oxford Handbook of Organization Theory

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199275250
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199275250.003.0018

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

 Organization Theory and Ethics: Varieties and Dynamics of Constrained Optimization

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Organizational theory and ethics are not only mutually informing and entangled historically, they may also be codependent. A key foundational principle in both organization studies and ethics is ‘constrained optimization’. The operating and at least implicit primary purpose or reason for being of an organization is what is optimized. Optimization is both a normative idea and a descriptive idea. This article focuses on various types of business organization. What is constrained and optimized for government and nonprofit organizations can be very different. It proceeds, analyzes, and compares how key theorists from the time of Adam Smith, who analyze both ethics and business organizational forms, consider varieties of constrained optimization. This article considers six different types of constrained optimization and analyses change processes through which varieties of constrained optimization evolve.

Keywords: organizational theory; ethics; organization studies; constrained optimization; nonprofit organizations

Article.  9776 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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