Historical Social Research

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Cristina Besio & Andrea Pronzini, Inside Organizations and Out. Methodological Tenets for Empirical Research Inspired by Systems Theory [Abstract]

This paper focuses on how organizational research inspired by Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory can be epistemologically framed and methodologically designed. Central methodological pillars such as structural and semantic analyses, observing contingencies, explaining trivialities, functional analysis and exploring coupling mechanisms are discussed. Drawing from several empirical studies, we demonstrate that systems theory is a highly efficacious framework for the study of modern organizations, as it permits an uncommon observational perspective that is able to question what is often taken for granted. Finally, we highlight how management can profit from systems theoretical research on organizations.