Why Study Organizations?

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Essay Question: Why study organizations?
In order to answer an essay question, first of all, we need to understand what is meant by the term ‘organization’ from the sociological point of view. Then we need to understand what role organizations are playing in our life and why it is essential to study them. As we can imagine, there are different types of organizations. All of them have their own structure and purpose. In this essay I would like to focus on business organizations: how they appeared and developed; how employees’ relations were changing, etc. I would like to pay the specific attention to such department as Human Resource Management – how this term appeared and why it is so important nowadays. So, why do we actually need to study organizations? This question, from my point of view, has a very easy and obvious answer: we need to study organizations for the same reason we study the world around us. We are intelligent and curious people. We always need an explanation of what is happening, how the things are working, and what place do we take among other people. Organizations are the huge part of our modern daily life: we either study or work for them, or we are obtaining goods and services from them. We are interacting with organizations all the time, so it is not surprising, that we want to study them; and it does not matter if you are a manager or consumer – you are still involved in it and you want to be aware of what is happening around you. What is organization? In sociology term ‘organization’ has a very general meaning. This “is basically a structure for carrying out a particular social activity on a regular basis” (Fulcher and Scott, 2009; p.542). All the organizations have such features as specific goal, defined membership, rules of behaviour, and authority relationships. This is also important to mention, that all organizations have the characteristic of continuity. This means that personnel can be changing, but the organization will still exist. There is no clear definition of what social units come into the category of organizations. Some of them are easy to define, other will bring us some difficulties. For instance, business corporations, schools, hospitals, trade unions are definitely organizations, as they all have the characteristics mentioned before. On the other hand, communities, social groups, and class are not organizations, as they do not have rules of behaviour or specific goals. The problem can occur, when we come across the term ‘institution’. The first thing we need to understand here is that organization is not an institution. Institution is “an established practice that regulate the various activities that make up social life” (Fulcher and Scott, 2009; p.543). The most common examples of institutions in daily life are weddings and funerals. Although, these are two different terms, there is one class of organizations which is called total institution. Most of the organizations leave people with their separate private lives, but it is not the case with total institution. It is characterised by such features as disappearance of private life, planned and supervised activities, sharp division between staff and inmates, the mortification of the self. The biggest examples of the total institution are mental hospital and prison, where people are isolated from the outside world and society. Now we know what defines organizations, but we still did not get to the point why do we need to study them. From my point of view, it is essential to look at the historical background of organizations. We need to understand how they were appearing and developing trough the time, in order to understand how they are functioning nowadays. In this essay I have decided to look specifically at one type of organizations – business corporations. Weber (1914) said that modern society is distinguished from the earlier one by the appearance of the multiplicity of administrative tasks and the need to expertise and carry...
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