Organization Theory and the Changing Nature of Science

Jonathon N. Cummings, Sara Kiesler


Dramatic changes in the practice of scientific research over the past half century, including trends towards working in teams and on large projects, as well as geographically distributed and interdisciplinary collaboration, have created opportunities and challenges for scientists. Some of the newer ways of doing science create opportunities and challenges for organization theory. We describe how applying organization theory to science can enhance our knowledge of research organizations and raise questions for theories of coordination, social identity, the knowledge-based view of the firm, social networks, organizational learning, and absorptive capacity. We argue that an organizational perspective on science is critical to understanding the sources of technological innovation, making national policy on R&D investment, and designing successful 21st-century research organizations.


organization theory; social studies of science; interdisciplinary collaboration; distributed work; research policy

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ISSN: 2245-408X

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