A Field Guide to Organizations “In the Wild:” Moving Beyond Restrictive Organization Theory for Associations

  • Jordi Comas
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


Too often, organization theory is used to restrict what counts, or doesn’t, as an organization. Scholarship over focuses on contrasting them to formalized bureaucracies. Our approach differs. We begin by noting that we now have a much deeper and richer set of studies of all manner of associations. We use the rich portfolio of studies of community, organizations, and associations to first observe and categorize what associations are doing to organize. With this data in hand, we revisit organization theory for associations. First, we find several important categories including task-oriented, embedded, vertically-linked, democratic, and network forms of associational organization. Second, we use these categories to enhance organizational theory to include the roles of technology, of normative commitments, of institutional pressures, and finally of local history to create enduring contexts for organizational forms.


Associations Organizational theory Non-bureaucratic organizations Community of limited liability Division of labor in organizations 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi Comas
    • 1
  1. 1.LewisburgUSA

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