Organizational forming in (a)modern times: Path dependence, actor -network theory and Ireland's Industrial Development Authority
The topic of organizational form has been gaining increased attention, its relevance often portrayed as 'new times' driving the need for new forms. However, what is more evident in the literature is that the need for new ways of looking at organizational form has yet to be addressed.
I argue that the problem that "new organizational form" presents is precisely located in the inability of the field to think in other than "form" itself. By problematizing the focus on "form" I take issue with the largely ahistorical and aprocessual character of much organizational theorizing, but also with some process oriented theory, giving consideration as well to the possibility that the privilege obtained by modernist paradigmatic approaches in such theorizing is also part of the problem. With this as my point of departure, I argue for knowing the organizational as an ongoing process—i.e., "forming" over knowing "organizational form" by way of classification—and ask: How to arrive at processual knowing that might escape the modernist thirst for classification?
In addressing this question, I employ a two-stage research process. In the first stage, I consider whether the processual and more temporally sensitive lens of path dependence theory can take us out of the impasse of modernity. Empirically, what is of interest is how Ireland's Industrial Development Authority (the IDA) emerged at a particular point in time and how it evolved over time through the interplay of positive feedback mechanisms and reactive sequences.
In the second stage, I use actor-network theory (ANT) as metatheoretical lens to explore if path dependence theory performs "organizational forming." Via analyses supported by ANT, I highlight the performance of translation, hybridization and purification in path dependence theory, in the process translating path dependence, and show how the 'modern' works in re-articulating organizational form.
In general, thus, it is my argument that the problem of "organizational form" cannot be addressed by following extant analytical approaches because such approaches focus on purification at the expense of translation and hybridization. I propose, therefore, an alternative theoretical emphasis and analytical approach, namely ANT, which would maintain an on-going opening for "forming."
0703: Organizational behavior