Brock University

Sociology of Organizations

The sociology of organizations is marked by a number of popular theoretical frameworks including, but not limited to, new institutionalism (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983), resource dependency (Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978), population ecology (Hannan & Freeman, 1977) and network theory (Uzzi, 1996). These theoretical frameworks have had a significant influence on both theorizing within sociology as well as the fields of management, political science and economics. This session invites papers that employ theories from the sociology of organizations for the purposes of understanding processes both within organizations and across organizational fields. This includes papers that adopt qualitative, quantitative or mixed method approaches to illustrate how these organizational theories can be used to understand organizational processes.

Session Organizer: Nikki Marie Brown, McMaster University, ; Roger Pizarro Milian, McMaster University,


Does diversity guarantee diverse ties in networked organizations? A multilevel model analysis with GRAND NCE

Guang Ying Mo, University of Toronto,

The rhetoric of diversity argues that diversity is beneficial for organizations and widely accepted by organizations. However, empirical studies have found that diversity produces various forms of difficulties that lead to negative outcomes. Aiming to understand the complexity in networked organizations, I argue that diversity in composition should be differentiated from diverse ties in organizations. Using the social network and interview data of the GRAND Network Centre of Excellence, a Canadian research network, this article conducts mixed methods to investigate the dynamics of cross-disciplinary interactions among researchers. The findings show that in research collaborations an organizational design composed of multiple disciplines both fosters and hinders interactions across disciplinary boundaries – it facilitates such interactions by creating the opportunities to expand a multidisciplinary network, but causes barriers between researchers by exposing them to the differences in their disciplines. Furthermore, some disciplines exhibit greater level of motivations in multidisciplinary collaboration than others, which is associated with greater interactional diversity. Therefore, an organizational design of multidisciplinarity may reach its maximum effects if accompanied by other measures such as developing networks among researchers, promoting motivations in multidisciplinarity, and fostering common ground among disciplines.


Organizing the fight against cancer in the province of Québec, 1920 - 2010

anne-julie houle, École de santé publique de l'Université de Montréal,

Throughout western countries, the fight against cancer has been organize through the combination of policies that promote healthy living and screening habits, as well as the creation of oncology centers and cancer agencies – i.e. facilities that provide and manage cancer services and promote cancer research. Using a socio-historical approach, we explore the organization of cancer services and their transformation in the province of Québec throughout the 20th century.

The study triangulates interview data and archival documents. Interview data consist in a purposefully constructed sample of 60 oncologists and archives were provided by various healthcare organizations and public archives.

Using Scott and al.’s (2000) approach, the analysis identifies organizational forms present during the 20th century. These forms are: 1) French institute, 1920-1940, 2) cancer institute within a general university hospital, 1941-1987, and 3) network, interdisciplinarity and collaboration, 1988-2010. Moreover, the analysis suggest that competition between organizations, the lack of interest of the health ministry toward cancer for most of the century and a strong professional ethos are social forces that contributed to shaping the fight against cancer in Québec.


“POLICE CULTURE” IN UNSETTLED TIMES: Examining the Impact of Police Oversight

Holly Campeau, University of Toronto,

Within police studies, “police culture” has been defined in two ways – ‘broadly’ as an organizational ethos through which officer behaviour is presumably explained, and ‘individually’ as officer typologies. In both definitions, culture is depicted according to a series of police values and attitudes, largely attributed to the threatening and isolating nature of the job. This paper argues in favour of an alternative conceptualization of police “culture” which draws on the central tenets of cultural sociology and institutional theory. Assessing culture at the level of meaning, police culture is viewed as a resource which actors draw on within particular organizational constraints. Drawing on data gathered from interviews and participant observation in the police department of a medium-sized city in Ontario, this analysis examines how officers negotiate meaning in a changing occupational environment – specifically, how unprecedented levels of police oversight impact their sense of solidarity and mission. This case study highlights how organizational cultures are socially and historically embedded, and must be analyzed as such in order to avoid either a monolithic or narrow application of cultural practice.


Imprinting and Inertia – Density Delay Revisited

Roland Stuerz, Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition; Munich Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research (MCIER),

The study builds on previous research in the domain of organizational ecology and derives hypotheses about delayed effects of the competitive intensity at the time of founding of a new organization on mortality rates. It is argued that on the one hand, old incumbent organizations with more industry experience exert more competitive pressure than younger ones. On the other hand, a situation at founding where incumbents have to spread their competitive efforts among different entry cohorts should be favorable for new organizations. Data on four populations of motorcycle producers in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia are used to test these predictions. Empirical results provide support for the hypotheses in the first three populations. Conflicting results in Australia might be explained with the special evolution of the industry there. As it is known, estimated effects of the density at founding in the literature usually can explain only part of the observed declines in population numbers (Carroll/Hannan 2000). However, the implemented measures in this study yield lager effects than the estimated classical density delay effect alone in three of the populations. Hence, the study extends the existing theory helping to explain generally observable evolutionary patterns more fully. It yields important theoretical insights on historical path-dependency in the evolution of industries and on firm survival.


© Canadian Sociological Association ⁄ La Société canadienne de sociologie