Edited by Tuomo Peltonen, Hugo Gaggiotti and Peter Case
Chapter 2: Revisiting the sociological origins of organization theory: the forgotten legacy of Pitirim Sorokin
Peltonen in his contribution poses a strident challenge to the accepted historiography of organization theory. In particular, he draws attention to the relative neglect of the Russian-born scholar Pitirim Sorokin. Parsonian functionalist sociology, Peltonen maintains, unjustifiably overshadows the work of Sorokin, whose studies of the long cycles of cultural mentalities within civilizational epochs has, despite its contemporary relevance, been largely overlooked. Whereas Parsons’ systems thinking drew the attention of organization scholars within an embryonic Harvard Business School, Sorokin’s writing on the history of civilizational forms simply did not find any traction with these colleagues. Despite being ignored in this way, his revelations concerning the transformations between what he termed ‘Ideational’, ‘Sensate’ and ‘Idealist’ periods in the development of Western culture – i.e., an analysis of the complex transitions between classical Greek, Roman, medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment and contemporary capitalist modernity – is, Peltonen insists, highly germane to organization theory.
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