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Key Concepts in Organization Theory

Key Concepts in Organization Theory

November 2012 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

From agency theory to power and politics, this indispensable guide to the key concepts of organization theory is your compass as you navigate through the often complex and abstract theories about the design and functioning of organizations. Designed to complement and elucidate your textbook or reading list, as well as introduce you to concepts that some courses neglect, this historical and interdisciplinary A-Z account of the field:

  • Helps you understand the basics of organization theory
  • Allows you to check your understanding of specific concepts
  • Fills in any gaps left by your course reading, and
  • Is a powerful revision tool

Each entry is consistently structured, providing a definition of the concept and why it's important to theory and practice, followed by a summary of current debates and a list of further reading. This companion will provide you with the nuts and bolts of an understanding that will serve you not just in your organization studies course, but throughout your degree and beyond.

Key concepts include: agency theory; business strategy; corporate governance; decision making; environmental uncertainty; globalization; industrial democracy; organizational change; stakeholder theory; storytelling and narrative research; technology and organization structure.


Agency Theory
Business Strategy
Complexity Science
Contested Exchange Theory
Corporate Governance
Decision Making
Discourse in Organizations
Environmental Uncertainty
Environment-Organization Interaction
Industrial Democracy
Institutional Theory
Labor Process Theory
Life Cycle Models
Organization Structure and Design
Organizational Change
Organizational Culture
Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management
Organizational Space
Postmodern Turn and Organization Studies
Power and Politics
Scientific Management
Stakeholder Theory
Storytelling and Narrative Research
Structuration Theory
Systems Theory
Technology and Organization Structure
Transaction Cost Economics

'Luhman and Cunliffe have provided a glossary of organization theory terms from agency to storytelling to transaction cost economics. In doing so they provide an important resource to any course on organizations, so students can make their path through the terminological jungle. Each chapter is a rest stop on the journey, providing helpful hints, pointing out the dangers of the terrain and the safest paths to follow' -
Professor David Boje
New Mexico State University

'Luhman and Cunliffe perform a valuable service, helping to capture and make accessible the richness of current organizational theory and behaviour' -
Richard J. Badham, Professor of Management
Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, Austrailia

It could work as a useful tool for complementing the main literature of a course. It provides essential key concepts in Organisation Theory. Furthermore, the structure of this book makes the reading easy for students.

Professor Michela Cozza
Business Administration , Malardalen University
September 2, 2016

This book has proven to be very useful to both students and lecturer.
Thank you.

Mrs Tawa Edwards
Year 0, Greenwich School of Management
March 13, 2015

Excelent dictionary to have a deep view of the field of organizational psychology. I use this with my master's students as a key reference in theoreticla perspectives in the field.

Dr Jose Navarro
Department of Social Psychology, Univ. of Barcelona
July 14, 2014

An excellent overview. Recommended to students as general reference.

Dr Michael Herzka
Social Work , ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences
February 11, 2014

Very valuable reading for graduate students.Up to date concepts clearly explained with numerous exemples.

December 11, 2013

This is a highly readable journey through the world of organizational theory. The structure of the book is superb in the way it supports the reader in building their conceptual understanding and then guiding the reader to further study in order to deepen thinking and question present organizational cultures and behaviours.

Dr Peter Treadwell

Dr Peter Treadwell
Centre for Work Based Learning, Cardiff Metropolitan University
December 10, 2013

Very useful companion

Mr Nicholas Snowden
The York Management School, York University
November 10, 2013

Not adopted yet but looking forward to adopting this book in the Spring. Excellent overview of theories in OC!

Dr Cade Spaulding
Communication Division, University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
October 14, 2013

Using a different Sage book.

Mr Roberto Cordon
Politics and International Relations, Franklin College
August 27, 2013

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter One

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