The New Structuralism in Organizational Theory
Over the past decade, a new structuralism has begun to emerge in organizational theory. This exciting new research program draws inspiration from the social structural tradition in sociology, but extends that tradition by more broadly conceptualizing social structure as comprised of broader cultural rules and meaning systems as well as material resources—revealing the subtleties of both overt and covert power. Building on the insights of Bourdieu and related work in social theory and cultural sociology, new structuralist empirical research focuses on concrete manifestations of culture in everyday practice and has pioneered the measurement of cultural aspects of social structure using a variety of relational methods. In this essay, we revisit mid-century social structural approaches to organizations, review the development of organization theory as a management subfield that increasingly focused on instrumental exchange, highlight key aspects of the new structuralism in organizational theory, and discuss promising new research directions.