Introducing a relational approach when theorising the organisation

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis investigates the modelling and theorising of the organisation in social theory. It is situated in the broader context of complex social systems with its specific application to theories of the firm. The thesis starts by presenting selected theories of the firm and how they are conceptualised by making use of metaphors. The thesis contends that current social modelling practices are primarily situated in the dominant social framework of individualism, and the extent of this dominance limits our view of the organisation. The thesis proposes that we retake a critical position to better acknowledge the limitations of our theories that attempt to understand social phenomena. From such a position, theorists can include a fuller framework to model the organisation and include social theories traditionally placed as secondary or derivative. The thesis suggests that when modelling the organisation, a relational social theory should be placed alongside that of individualist social theories. The thesis believes that relationalism provides a framework that has the potential to inform the task of theory creation. This relational emphasis will allow theories of the firm to more fully account for an organisation’s relational dependence. Moreover, the thesis investigates how relational mechanisms move past the traditional individualist/collectivist divide and therefore serve to connect the one and the many. To provide an example, the thesis investigates the relational ideas that function in the theories of the Triple Bottom Line, The IR Report and the Social Enterprise. The thesis then incorporates the argument that when theorising complex social phenomena, it inevitably requires making normative decisions. Here the thesis sees the decision on where to designate the borders of an entity as reliant on an individualist normative framework. In contrast, the thesis argues that a relational normative framework provides guidance when moving between different levels of theoretical abstraction. The thesis makes use of the ethics of care as a relational ethic in order to incorporate care as a central guiding practice to societal construction. To provide an example of the relational mechanism of care, the thesis makes use of the distinction between caring-about and caring-for that translates abstract concepts into specific relations and our everyday practices.
AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Geen opsomming beskikbaar.
Thesis (MPhil) -- Stellenbosch University, 2022.
Social systems -- Philosophy, Economics, Relation (Philosophy), Social modelling practices, Neoclassical school of economics, UCTD