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Am I way off base here?

1) Correct me if I'm wrong, but to the extent that organizational research has examined social movements, it has primarily been concerned with their effect on (that holy grail of org. studies) organizational forms (cf. work by Rao, Morrill, Zald, Ventresca, Clemens, Lounsbury).

2) And isn't it also true that organizational research has paid relatively little attention to explaining the structure of organizational fields (i.e., patterns of interorganizational relations)?

3) And if that is indeed the case, would it not be important to examine the effects of emerging social movements on the structure of existing organizational fields?

“Am I way off base here?”

  1. Blogger Brayden Says:

    Sounds like you're simplifying things a little bit. Organizational theory has informed social movement research in a number of ways. The resource mobilization perspective was originally formulated by scholars who were interested in the organizational aspects of social movements. Indeed, they were also concerned with the ways in which social movements influenced organizations (via bureaucratic insurgency).

    A number of scholars have made contributions to social movement research by utilizing theories that were first developed in organizational analysis. The first that comes to mind is Minkoff's work on the ecological dynamics of intermovement growth. Of course, if you're equating that with an interest in the development of different organizational forms within a movement community, this may be redundant.

    I'm not sure what you mean in question 2. Are you asking if organizational scholars have not paid attention to interorganizational relations or if social movement scholars have ignored interorganizational relations within the movement sector? I think the answer to both questions is no. Isn't one of the primary motivations of network analysts of social movements to uncover the ways in which different SMOs are connected and how that affects their behavior?

    I also don't really understand what you mean by question 3, but that's probably because I'm unclear on question 2.

  2. Blogger Jeff Says:

    Thanks for being here, Brayden.

    Yes, of course you're right about the RM perspective. I should be more specific. Thirty years ago Mayer Zald and his organizational perspective made its way into SM research, inspiring a resource/organizational-centered way of thinking about movements. Since then, RM has developed quite apart from organizational sociology and the developments in Pop. Ecology and Neoinstitutionalism have not carried over. The authors I mention in point 1 represent a new effort to do just that, mostly by bringing new institutionism to bear on movements, and as a way to explain the emergence of new organizational forms.

    The second point takes field structure as the thing to be explained, rather than the source of explanation (as network analyses have typically done). To my mind, the organizations literature (and any other field?) has done little to explain the structure of org. fields.

    Point 3 presumes that the emergence of a movement is likely to have an impact on the structure of relations among existing organizations and their fields. For instance, they might inspire countermovements or other antagonistic coalitions, sever ties among organizations, disrupt routine patterns of exchange, etc.

    What am I missing?

  3. Blogger Brayden Says:

    Jeff - Check out "Where Do Interorganizational Networks Come From?" by Ranjay Gulati and Martin Gargiulo, AJS, 1999, 104: 1439-1493.

    I also think Martin Ruef's 2000 AJS piece about the emergence of medical organizational forms speaks to the issue of developing organizational fields, although he is not looking at the creation of interrelationships between organizations. He wants to explain how the relationships between forms explains their rise to prominence. Re Ruef: check out the book he coauthored with Dick Scott about medical organizations. Here they address the issue of field emergence more directly.

  4. Blogger Brayden Says:

    Here's a link to Gulati's research page, which also has a link to his AJS paper.

    http://www.ranjaygulati.com/new/research/articles.htm

  5. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    re question 2: one has to be able to define org fields (and their boundaries) in a non-vacuous and non-particularistic way before one can explain or model their structure. This hasn't happened yet.