Organizational Behavior 2 by John B. Miner

Organizational Behavior 2 by John B. Miner

Author:John B. Miner [John B. Miner]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781317463542
Publisher: Routledge

Development of the Theory of Two Systems

Burns’s theory was derived inductively from a series of case studies of firms operating primarily in the electronics industry in Great Britain. Thus to understand the theory it is necessary to start with this qualitative research and the circumstances surrounding it.

The Qualitative Research

The research was initiated as part of a project to monitor the progress of Scottish engineering firms as efforts were made to facilitate their entry into the new field of electronically controlled machinery and equipment. This project was carried out under the aegis of a voluntary association supported financially by industrial firms, local governments, and the unions, which in turn worked closely with the government of Scotland. Ultimately this effort was extended to England and included a number of firms more fully committed to electronics development than had been the case in Scotland.

The final sample of twenty firms (or segments of firms) included primarily these electronics firms faced with a changing technology, but also several companies from other industries, most of which had research and development interests in other fields. In addition to the changing technology of electronics engineering, many of these firms in the 1950s were forced to face the prospect of changing markets as a result of the government’s decreased defense contracting after the war. This defense market was variable over a number of years, but eventually it became evident that, to survive, most firms would have to develop the unfamiliar commercial market existing beyond government. At the time of the study they were attempting to do this.

The sample thus accumulated was entirely opportunistic in nature—firms were gradually found over a period of several years that were willing to participate in the study. Each was studied separately using the case method. Outside observers came in and conducted unstructured interviews, attended meetings, and listened to conversations. Notes were made on the spot. The methodology was essentially that of the field sociology or social anthropology of the day. As the data were being collected the observers tried to construct a systematic explanatory description of the company situation, a description that was not only internally consistent but congruent with explanatory descriptions derived from other social systems as set forth in the literature.

This approach yielded no quantitative data; it was entirely qualitative. As the authors themselves state, “All this is very far removed from any method of investigation which could possibly be called scientific” (Burns and Stalker 1994, 13). Thus the only value of the studies themselves is in the theory they generated; they prove nothing. With regard to the method employed, the authors state further, “It does not share the principal advantage of the anthropological field method, which lies in a lengthy period of residence in the community being studied” (13). In fact, the authors provide no information on how much time they actually spent within each company.


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