Organization Theory, Observation and Law, Research Paper Example

The Organizational Turn in International Organization Theory

 Organization Theory (OT) and International Organization (IO) are the two organizational theories that have been widely used to study organization’s phenomena. There are however some assumptions that are made on their autonomy and agency.  This paper argues that OT derives the corporate ontology of an organization. This is assumed that the agency and autonomy of the organization is posed by Organization Theory (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005).  This is seen to serve better the OT state –centric ontology.  Scholars have been forced to debate between IO and IO autonomy and agency in terms of their methodological and epistemological terms which. This paper seeks to illustrate and explain the similarities and contrasts that exist between OT and IO. Their conceptions of organizations are also discussed in the paper.  Reviews of previous scholarly articles on IO are also discussed with its movement towards IOs corporate ontology is also discussed. The paper finally relates the existing methodologies that exist between the IO and the various OT analyses in different levels (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005).

Organizations have been seen as important units that form the subject of analysis due to its ability to take up its own character and life. This life and character came as a result of organized action and processes which receive observation that were direct and critical. International organizations which are corporations posed the inherent autonomy and agency.  OT is a controversial mundane as it has been approached by perspective of Organization Theory.  This is not the case however with the International Organization as this requires a substantial justification with a lot of skepticism.  There are a lot of benefits that come with the adoption of corporate ontology of IOs especially on the IO subfield.  Some of these advantages include the ability to have autonomy and independence of IO agency through the realm of methodology and epistemology. There is also the totality of reality of IOs which comes with the assumption of theory. The use of IOs both as dependent and independent variables making it easy to be complemented or supplemented by rooting on its ontology of IOs. Corporate and state-centric ontology have been researched and reviewed according  (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005).

The Corporate and State-Centric Paradigms of IOs

Both Organization Theory and International Organization theories have been able to establish strong foundational realities that have been used to describe the nature of organizations and the respective empirical and theoretical those have been used to describe the nature of organization. Various scholarly by OT and IO scholars have put forward varied ontologies on the differences in foundational realities that come with them. Competing methodological and epistemological approaches of these paradigms.  Paradigm wars are however common with OT scholars as there are wars on methodology and epistemology unlike the IOs which give the general ontology of organizations   (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005).

In order to find out more about the best way of determining the IO and OT scholarly, foundational realities, a comparison and contrasting their definitions of organization. This will help the understanding of the general paradigmatic framework frames works. Based on this analysis, it found out that OT definition is less problematic while touches one that of IO is very elaborate and are goal-directed, activity and boundary-maintaining. The theory further linked the human beings with the common purpose of the organization while making sure that they are separated from the other autonomous entities.  OT for instance does presume that organizations are agentive and autonomous actors that have high dependence on the constituent units. It further asserts that, since they are collectives, organizations are stronger and are very durable with individuals that form part of the organization transcends time and human beings (Ahrne, 1994).

The concept of IO was found to perceptible and according to many institutions that embodiment of institutions regime.  They have been many trend when analyzed based on their impact. IO bureaucracies have several of examining the internal processes of IOs, which comes with autonomous. There also some other characteristics that have been found to distinctively differentiate the two theories making the two separate for the as long as the theory of organization and their various observation that need to be addressed in other to confirm with the relevant legislation and laws that govern the management of organizations and businesses.

The contribution to international Organization Research

There are some advantages of adopting a corporate paradigm of IOs that assumes IOs to be interested actors over the subfields current state –centric paradigm that observes them as subservient to the states. This relies on how useful it is in explaining the goal of the study (Ahrne, 1994). The following is the demonstration of the utility of paradigm of IOs that assumes them to be attentive and agentive actors in international politics.

Opening all the boxes

Generally, the international organizations are viewed by predominant IO theories as arenas for government’s interaction or rather receptacles of their intent. Some structural effects might modify the general outputs of the political process; however, the internal workings are not taken as overtly political in many theoretical constructs. The first and the second Image theories are abound to make sense of the act taken in the appellation of the government (Ahrne, 1994). Due to IOs theory predetermination, to demonstrate no interest or even inherent agency, the insights of these frameworks has never been involved in the international organizations. Hence, the need to open the black box of the state is well recognized.

The literatures of foreign policy, bureaucratic politics, and public opinion are all designed to elucidate the complexes of influence in the good working of corporate entities known as the states (Barkin, 2006). To defend weather the internal workings of IOs are relevant or not, it requires individual scholars to show that the characteristics that empower states have failed to empower IOs. This is because the state and the IOs are more nothing than corporate fictions (Jönsson, 1986).

The problems with IR Literature and IO Agency without Interest

When comparisons are made on the importance of power relationships, it is found that the agency of international organizations has outshined their welfares. Nevertheless, realism and neoliberalism are guilty of an epistemological discrepancy (Barkin, 2006). These paradigms are only tenable as theoretical frameworks only if they assume the state to be unitary actor with interest and agency. Research indicates convincingly that the states are not merely unitary actors but are corporate entities with the national interests. The international organizations for instance are themselves corporate entities with the difference that states form the consistency of ten organizations instead of entities (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005). The scholars cannot black box the bureaucratic workings as well as interests of the state actors and on the other hand reject the same assumption for international organization just because international organizations are created with weak legal-institutional structure that deprives them of total like state power.

Many scholars have questioned whether the relationship between international organizations and states resembles contestation or cooperation has overlooked the intent of international organizations in favor of their bargaining and structural-procedural impact (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005). What lacks from the literature on the agency of international organization is the clear ontological assumption that something is guiding the agency. Many scholars on the other hand, especially eth realists and the neoliberals have dismissed the international organizations agency claiming that their ontological assumptions privilege, the economic and the power gains of the organizations alone. Others claim that for an organization to assert their leadership there must be interest to advocate (Jönsson, 1986). For example, to use the agency of international organizations to socialize states to embrace certain norms over the others, there also be must some interest. Combination of IO agency with interest requires that we assume that the international organizations exhibit behavior, which is theoretically interesting in the end of itself.

Resolving Epistemological and Methodological Disputes

Creation of ontological leap that IOs enjoy corporate interests eliminates the issue of IO autonomy as well as the agency and thus accounts for much of the variance in which the higher level or more abstract theories fail to account (Knudsen & Tsoukas, 2005). This means it places the abstract theories in a proper perspective in the same way the Third Image analysis of the state is delineated from second image analysis. The structural theories have their places as models and gives explanations of the effects of the second Image models that the later cannot. On the other hand, the Second Image models are essential for explaining the power struggles within a state that lead to the policy positions taken by states as unitary actors in international relations (Ahrne, 1994). To give the clear separations of these, the game theory or rational choice models may work better at the structural level since it provides reasonable, parsimonious models of intra-bureaucratic politics within an IO.


The international organization as a subfield stands ready to make a fundamental shift in its approach. The IO scholars may be brought together by adopting a corporate paradigm of international organizations instead of a state-centric paradigm of international organizations. They must also turn to Organization Theory for great insight into the internal working of IOs instead of starting from the scratch.


Ahrne, G. (1994). Social Organizations: Interaction Inside, Outside and Between Organizations. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Barkin, J. (2006). International Organization: Theories and Institutions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Jönsson, C. (1986): “Interorganization Theory and International Organization,” International Studies Quarterly, 30, 39–57.

Knudsen, C. & Tsoukas, H. (2005). The Oxford handbook of organization theory: [meta-theoretical perspectives]. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ. Press.