Organizational Theory Abstraction Forms

Over the first two years of cycle 5 (2019-2021), Network members participating in the CPCRN's  Organization Theory for Implementation Science (OTIS) Workgroup collaborated on an effort to synthesize constructs from organization theories with the objective of increasing implementation scientists’ access to a host of highly-relevant, yet heretofore untapped theories that have the potential to explain adoption, implementation, sustainability, and more. Together, Workgroup members identified nine organization theories through which they synthesized 70 constructs. They illustrated these findings through a collection of nine, corresponding "Abstraction Forms," published in June 2021.

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Complexity Theory

Complexity science focuses on understanding how change occurs in complex adaptive systems (i.e., systems that are made up of many interdependent, heterogeneous parts that interact in a nonlinear fashion). The system may be conceptualized as a unit within an organization, the organization, and/or the wider inter- organizational system of which the organization is a part.

Contingency Theory

“To be most effective, organizational structures should be appropriate to the work performed and/or to the environmental conditions facing the organization.” (Schoonhoven, 1981) In other words, the optimal way of structuring work will be contingent on characteristics of both the work being performed (i.e., the task) and the environment where the work is performed (i.e., task environment).

Institutional Theory

Institutional theory answers the question: Why do organizations tend to look so similar (i.e., exhibit isomorphism)? The degree of isomorphism in an organizational field is positively related to the degree of (1) coercive, (2) mimetic, and (3) normative pressures in the field.

Network Perspective

Network perspectives elucidate the social relations between actors (e.g., organizations; individuals within organizations) and how the nature and structure of those relations contribute to the actors’ performance and behavior. Network perspectives explain how and why information and resources flow, and are shared, amongst a population of actors through their connections.

Organizational Learning

Organizational learning is the process of creating, retaining, and transferring knowledge within an organization. An organization improves over time as it gains experience.

Population Ecology

Population ecology aims to understand why there are so many kinds of organizations and how organizational populations form, become different, and remain different over time (Baum, 1997). Population ecology focuses on the demographic (e.g., age, size), ecological (e.g., niche-width theory, population density), and environmental (e.g., social, economic, political, and technological) processes posited to influence the survival of organizations in a field.

Resource Dependency Theory

Organizations become more powerful when they can balance the benefits of acquiring necessary resources from external organizations against the dependence that comes with having to acquire resources from external organizations.

Sociotechnical Theory

Social, technical, and organizational subsystems are interrelated parts of one system. Dynamics and mutual influences exist among the three subsystems, giving rise to the system.

Transaction Cost Economics

Organizations incur costs as a result of planning, implementing, and enforcing transactions with other organizations. Organizations strive for greater efficiency by implementing governance structures that will minimize transaction costs.