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A Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Organizations

Charles Perrow
American Sociological Review
Vol. 32, No. 2 (Apr., 1967), pp. 194-208
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2091811
Page Count: 15
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A Framework for the Comparative Analysis of Organizations
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Abstract

Complex organizations are conceptualized in terms of their technologies, or the work done on raw materials. Two aspects of technology vary independently: the number of exceptions that must be handled, and the degree to which search is an analyzable or unanalyzable procedure. If there is a large number of exceptions and search is not logical and analytic, the technology is described as nonroutine. Few exceptions and analyzable search procedures describe a routine technology. Two other types result from other combinations--craft and engineering technologies. Task structures vary with the technology utilized, and are analyzed in terms of control and coordination and three levels of management. Social structure in turn is related to technology and task structure. Finally, the variations in three types of goals are weakly related to the preceding variables in this conceptualization. The perspective provides a basis for comparing organizations which avoids many problems found in other schemes utilizing structure, function or goals as the basis for comparison. Furthermore, it allows one to selectively utilize competing organizational theories once it is understood that their relevance is restricted to organizations with specific kinds of technologies. The scheme makes apparent some errors in present efforts to compare organizations.

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