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Functionalism Revisited: A practice based Functionalism
Unformatted Document Text:  Functionalism Revisited 2 Functionalism Revisited: A practice based Functionalism Approach in Organizational Research The purpose of this paper is to explore theoretical frameworks of organizational research or social economic behavior studies in relation to communication technology and propose a tentative stance to make sense out of how and why various research results have come out, and assess possibilities to reconcile the infamous wall between qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Theoretical discussions on the organizational structures and interorganizational relations provided by economics (New Institutional Economics), sociology (functionalism/structuralism), and structurational approaches show that the social nature of the business practices is considered an invaluable source of understanding economic behaviors. Even though the approach (Giddens, for example) suggests no particular preference of methodological issues, its epistemological and ontological assumptions suggest the importance of individual (organizational) actions over structural forces. Such trends stem from Giddens’ refining argument on the term, structure and tendency to leaning toward more qualitative – focusing on actions (everyday socio-economic practices) – over quantitative (structural forces) research methods. I posit that the current movement, weighing more on individual agency than structure may have its own pitfall; and argue that utilizing functionalist approach while recognizing the power of the agent in economic settings might improve our understanding of the organizational behaviors and actions. The three main perspectives that I will discuss in relation to organizational research are: (1) rationalized individuals model in economics, (2) functionalism or structuralism approach, and (3) structurational approach. Since the last approach has been recognized as a prominent way of interpreting social and socio-economic actions (Baker, 1984; Gulati & Gargiulo, 1999; Uzzi, 1997), I will review in depth structuration theory in relation to concept of individuals/structure, and posit that some of the structuralist/functionalist approaches are not incompatible with structuration theory if localized actions are recognized. A brief layout of my study is as follows: Perspectives and theories in organizational research are visited. Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) and Principal Agent Theory (PAT) and Resource Dependence Theory (RDT), and Institutional Theory, Network Analysis, Theory of Structuration, and some others will be discussed. I will also point to the synergetic effects of information technology with TCE and PAT theories. I find a general agreement of a lack of sociality in the TCE and PAT approaches; and recognize some important aspects of the structuration approach during the discussion of Giddens’ Theory of Structuration. However, I also notice that such an approach has also its own limits. A practice based functionalist approach will be proposed and discussed. In short, I will argue that because of the historicity of economic behaviors among organizations and individuals and because of the advance of

Authors: Kim, Hyo.
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Functionalism Revisited 2
Functionalism Revisited: A practice based Functionalism
Approach in Organizational Research
The purpose of this paper is to explore theoretical frameworks of organizational research or social
economic behavior studies in relation to communication technology and propose a tentative stance to
make sense out of how and why various research results have come out, and assess possibilities to
reconcile the infamous wall between qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Theoretical
discussions on the organizational structures and interorganizational relations provided by economics
(New Institutional Economics), sociology (functionalism/structuralism), and structurational approaches
show that the social nature of the business practices is considered an invaluable source of understanding
economic behaviors. Even though the approach (Giddens, for example) suggests no particular preference
of methodological issues, its epistemological and ontological assumptions suggest the importance of
individual (organizational) actions over structural forces. Such trends stem from Giddens’ refining
argument on the term, structure and tendency to leaning toward more qualitative – focusing on actions
(everyday socio-economic practices) – over quantitative (structural forces) research methods. I posit that
the current movement, weighing more on individual agency than structure may have its own pitfall; and
argue that utilizing functionalist approach while recognizing the power of the agent in economic settings
might improve our understanding of the organizational behaviors and actions.
The three main perspectives that I will discuss in relation to organizational research are: (1)
rationalized individuals model in economics, (2) functionalism or structuralism approach, and (3)
structurational approach. Since the last approach has been recognized as a prominent way of interpreting
social and socio-economic actions (Baker, 1984; Gulati & Gargiulo, 1999; Uzzi, 1997), I will review in
depth structuration theory in relation to concept of individuals/structure, and posit that some of the
structuralist/functionalist approaches are not incompatible with structuration theory if localized actions
are recognized.
A brief layout of my study is as follows: Perspectives and theories in organizational research are
visited. Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) and Principal Agent Theory (PAT) and Resource
Dependence Theory (RDT), and Institutional Theory, Network Analysis, Theory of Structuration, and
some others will be discussed. I will also point to the synergetic effects of information technology with
TCE and PAT theories. I find a general agreement of a lack of sociality in the TCE and PAT approaches;
and recognize some important aspects of the structuration approach during the discussion of Giddens’
Theory of Structuration. However, I also notice that such an approach has also its own limits. A practice
based functionalist approach will be proposed and discussed. In short, I will argue that because of the
historicity of economic behaviors among organizations and individuals and because of the advance of


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