Organizational psychology

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


It has been almost 100 years since Frederick Taylor introduced his concept of scientific management (Taylor, 1911). Taylor's work was significant in three important ways. First, it recognized business organizations as specialized social entities that were different from other social and economic structures and therefore worthy of study and a specialized science. Second, by conceptualizing organizations as mechanistic in nature, his work provided the foundational assumptions for the majority of organization psychology theory developed during the 20th century – the organization as a rational, deterministic, teleological system. Organizations were to be understood by their goals and their strategy for getting there, by their components (human and physical resources) and how they fit together (organizational structure), and how individuals outside of the machine (managers) made decisions and “managed” others to achieve their strategic goals. Third, Taylor opened the door for the continued appropriation of the physical sciences into the domain of organizational science. Despite its dominance, Taylor's view of a centrally controlled, mechanistic, rational organization has been challenged since its inception. Humanism in its various forms has always had a strong contingency of support (Dingley & Durkhelm, 1997), and more recently organizations have been conceptualized as political (Morgan, 1986), organic (Burns & Stalker, 1961), postmodern (Boje, 2001), and even anarchic (Cohen, March, & Olsen, 1972). With the emergence of complexity science, however, we have an opportunity to bring together these disparate “modern” views of organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationChaos and Complexity in Psychology
Subtitle of host publicationThe Theory of Nonlinear Dynamical Systems
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781139058544
ISBN (Print)9780521887267
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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