19 What’s next?

Brad C. Anderson

We will begin to understand values, rationality, and power in the next three chapters. First, we will explore the values active in organizations. Then, the following chapter will introduce you to the many forms rationality can take. This textbook then turns to an exploration of how power operates in social settings.

In this chapter, you learned:

What critical realism is

  • Critical realism is a model of how social systems work.
  • Critical realism is one of the many models of social reality.
  • This text focuses on critical realism because it has utility in conceptualizing forces governing organizational action.

The layers of social reality envisioned by critical realism.

  • The real domain is the deepest layer of social reality.
    • The real domain contains structures.
    • Structures are those forces that enable or constrain action.
  • The actual domain is the middle layer of social reality.
    • Actions, events (or non-events) occur in the actual domain.
    • Structures in the real domain govern the actions available to people.
    • The actions people perform either reproduce or change structures in the real domain.
  • The empirical domain is the surface level of social reality.
    • The empirical domain contains observations/ experiences caused by actions in the actual domain.

How critical realism helps us understand organizations

  • By gaining insight into the underlying structures of an organization, critical realism provides a framework to understand what actions are possible (and what efforts the organization will resist)
  • By understanding these structures, individuals can develop plans to implement desired actions.

The relation between critical realism and organizational wisdom

  • Values, rationality, and power, the three major themes of organizational wisdom, are structures under the critical realist framework

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What's next? by Brad C. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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