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Broader rationalities and alternative forms of organisation : Sociological insights into social strategic action


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Faifua, D and Harding, S 2006 , 'Broader rationalities and alternative forms of organisation : Sociological insights into social strategic action' , International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 28, no. 9/10 , pp. 408-419 , doi: 10.1108/01443330810900239.

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This paper argues the legacy of instrumental rationality has had a profoundly impoverishing effect on rational accounts of organisation, and that even though non-rational accounts move beyond instrumental rationality, they remain tied to economist assumptions. The paper outlines the broader Weber/Habermas (1984) model of rationality, and demonstrates its application. Drawing on verbatim quotes from a sampling of the thirty-five (35) in-depth interviews, we reveal the range of very different rationalities expressed in the social relations of work, of four very specific types of organisation: a bureaucracy, an entrepreneurial unit, a producer co-operative and a worker co-operative. We outline two ideal sets of findings, ideal in the sense that in two of the organisations the rationalities, social relations of work and associated outcomes fit well with the Weber/Habermas (1984) model of instrumental strategic action and social strategic action. This study shows the potential for broader rationality as it plays out in the workplace. The notion of workplaces that free workers to contribute in socially strategic ways points to new approaches to management and organisation. It offers practical insights into social relations built on co-operation, moral judgement and communication. The power of the idea of broader rationality is that being more rational, i.e. attending to more than a narrow impoverished view provides the prospect of action advancing the social and the economic in a profound way. Only where management place a priority on social strategic action is it possible to rescind the impoverishing effects of economic rationalism.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Faifua, D and Harding, S
Keywords: broader rationality, alternative forms of organisation, culture and economy, socio-cultural, social strategic action.
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
ISSN: 0144-333X
DOI / ID Number: 10.1108/01443330810900239
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