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Card-index course

Sociology of Organisations and Public Administrations

Sociologie des organisations et des administrations publiques

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Social and Political Sciences (SSP)

Teacher(s): David Giauque
Lecturer(s): -

Validity: 2012 -> 2012

No timetable defined.


Spring semester
4 hours per week
56 hours per semester

Teaching language(s): French
Public: Yes
Credits: 0


This course must be regarded as an introduction to the main theories of organizations. Sociological perspectives of organizations are developed, while other perspectives are considered as well, such as political and economic ones. The human being is social by definition. Due to this fact, he/she belongs to a large number of organizations during all his/her existence. The cooperation, the coordination of the activities are thus indispensable to the life in communities. The study of organizations thus touches the everyday life of the individuals and the groups. There is a competition of theories proposing explanations of this social phenomenon, which may be called "organization". The objective of the course thus is to approach these various theories, on one hand by a historic approach of the development of the field of the sociology of organizations and, on the other hand, by a thematic reflection on the dimensions of organization (power, culture, structures, etc.). The objectives of the course will thus be the following ones:

- Being capable of redrawing the historic evolution of the theories of organizations and being able to contextualize these competing theories
- Being capable of using the theories for the analysis of case
- Being capable of comparing and of criticizing the theories

To note that the course will take place over 4 periods of teaching per week. Two will be dedicated to the theoretical bases of the various theories of organizations and two others will be dedicated to the analysis of scientific articles. The participation of the students is thus required.


1. Introduction. The theories of organizations. What is a theory? What is an organization?
2. The foundation ( 1 ): the theories of the bureaucracy.
3. The foundation ( 2 ): the theories explaining the decision in organizations.
4. The foundation ( 3 ): contingency and institutional theories aiming to explain the organizational structures.
5. The questioning of traditional theories: Action and Marxist analyses of organizations.
5. The modern theories of organizations ( 1 ): the neo-institutional theory and the ecology of the populations of organization.
6. The modern theories of organizations ( 2 ): the economy of organizations.
7. The modern theories of organizations ( 3 ): the political analysis (coalitions, resources, strategies).
8. The modern theories of organizations ( 4 ): the symbolic analysis.
9. Surrounding areas of the avant-garde ( 1 ): the social construction.
10. Surrounding areas of the avant-garde ( 2 ): critical management studies and post-modern theories.


Oral examination (20 minutes).


Rouleau Linda (2007). Théories des organisations. Québec: Presses de l'Université du Québec

Wharton Amy S. (2007). The Sociology of Organizations. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing Company

Alter Norbert (2005). L'innovation ordinaire. Paris: PUF

Programme requirements

This course is opened to the students of political science, sociology, psychology.

Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
Unicentre  -  CH-1015 Lausanne  -  Suisse  -  Tél. +41 21 692 11 11  -  Fax  +41 21 692 26 15