Perrow Charles. 1986. Complex Organizations A Critical Essay

This course is an intensive reading and discussion seminar that aims to provide a critical understanding of the history, the dominant paradigms, and the emerging trends in the study of organizations. “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.” .

"Renting rooms with power" resembled "changing jobs without changing your car pool," as in Silicon Valley a century later.Modularity also allowed inventive designs within each module and allowed testing of independent modules rather than having to test the whole system.Eight years later I published a book on a totally different topic: the 19th Century origins of the United States' distinctive form of capitalism, .Examining risky systems in the book, I focused upon the unexpected interactions of different parts of the system that no designer could have expected and no operator comprehend or be able to interdict.The difficulty of anticipating unexpected interactions appeared to stem from a system design that emphasized efficiency and speedy construction and speedy operation.Something other than power was at work here, I quickly decided, and it was a dimension of organizational structure (complexity) and process (tight coupling) that had not been explored.The immense complexity of some industrial organizations and their tight internal connections occasionally allowed even some small local failures, inevitable in complex systems, to cascade through the system and bring it down.Prosper they did, until the end of the 19th Century when both New England and Philadelphia textile firms went into a slow decline because of foreign competition and cheaper labor in the southern states.The US railroad industry started out, necessarily, as a number of small organizations geographically dispersed and mostly public or public-private in ownership.In contrast, an equally complex design was a network of modules.This design anticipated the inevitable failure of some parts of a system, e.g.

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