Rethinking the Firm: Organizational Approaches

Mitchell P. Koza, Jean Claude Thoenig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


How does social science based organization theory describe the business firm? Sociology, political science, social psychology and ethnology have inspired two almost classical perspectives. One theorizes the firm as an arena for strategic behavior. The other underlines the way social pressure mechanisms structure a moral community dimension. Two additional approaches exist, less explored. The firm can be defined as a collective actor, the agenda for knowledge being to explain how far collective choice is possible. Or the firm may be studied from a cognitive perspective, as an organization which interprets and thinks. The article argues that organization theory offers a unitary if not limited view of the business firm. Social sciences basically debate around two alternative views which differentiate according to four characteristics: the action arena or the context of behavior; the teleological property of the unit; the payoff matrix or the sources of preferences with which members enter collective choice contexts; and the sources of managerial influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1219-1229
Number of pages11
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number8 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Cognitions
  • Collective action
  • Gemeinschaft
  • Organizational theory
  • Social function of the firm
  • Strategic behavior


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