Conventions and Structures in Economic Organization

Conventions and Structures in Economic Organization

Markets, Networks and Hierarchies

New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series

Edited by Olivier Favereau and Emmanuel Lazega

This book contributes to the current rapprochement between economics and sociology. It examines the fact that individuals use rules and interdependencies to forward their own interests, while living in social environments where everyone does the same. The authors argue that to construct durable organizations and viable markets, they need to be able to handle both. However, thus far, economists and sociologists have not been able to reconcile the relationship between these two types of constraints on economic activity.

Chapter 6: Interdependent entrepreneurs and the social discipline of their cooperation: a research programme for structural economic sociology in a society of organizations

Emmanuel Lazega and Lise Mounier

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought, institutional economics, methodology of economics

Extract

Emmanuel Lazega, Lise Mounier1 INTRODUCTION: BUREAUCRACY AND COLLEGIALITY AT THE INTERORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL Economists have long focused on markets as exchange mechanisms, and many economic sociologists have also used the same approach. This focus emphasized the importance of price and that of the social embeddedness of economic transactions among actors, whether individuals or organizations. Focusing on the production side of economic activity, however, underlines the fact that society is a society of organizations (Presthus, 1962; White, 1981b; Stokman et al., 1985; Coleman, 1990; Perrow, 1991), with specific social mechanisms underlying collective action. From the latter’s perspective, saying that society is an organizational society is also equivalent to saying that its intrinsically multi-level dimension should frame – much more than it currently does – sociologists’ perspective on human, including economic, activity. In our view, this additional focus reframes analyses of both market exchange and social exchange (Blau, 1964) of resources as they are connected in production. This approach advocates new combinations of theories of individual action and theories of collective action. Within such a perspective, priority is given here to the study of social exchange and cooperation among interdependent entrepreneurs, at the intraorganizational and interorganizational levels. In short, this study is about the social discipline that helps interdependent entrepreneurs in their collective action. Entrepreneurs are not conceived as individuals acting on their own, but as individuals, and organizations, interacting with, and investing in, other entrepreneurs as peers or quasi-peers in order to make collective action possible. The sociology of organizations has been able to...

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