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Structure and Process: The Succession of Interventionist Goals

Albert Cherns
Journal of Occupational Behaviour
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 69-81
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3004065
Page Count: 13
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Structure and Process: The Succession of Interventionist Goals
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Abstract

Ideological changes in society eventually penetrate even the most laggard organizations and may indeed be accelerated by those in the vanguard. As ideologies change so do social science theory, the type of social science intervention and, through their effect on the social and political environments, the problems that are faced or at least identified. Thus it is possible to talk of theories and types of intervention as `right for their time' Intervention strategies have moved from an individualist to a collectivist orientation, in line with prevalent ideology, and from concern with process to concern with structure. The behavioural scientist can contrive `entry' where he has credibility: that is higher in matters of process, `interpersonal relations', than in structure and technology: even when the situation is amenable to structural intervention, he may initially be expected to focus on behaviour. Paradoxically, ideological changes demand structural change, but the connection is hidden from designers. Behavioural scientists may see the connection, but their skills are in binding people to old structures. Political activity to achieve ideological ends often produce at the organizational level consequences the reverse of those intended. And as behavioural scientists are influenced by ideological assumptions, the time of a behavioural theory may come when the time for it is past.

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