Political economy of the artificial : towards an alternative paradigm of business organisation.
Contemporary capitalism appears to be undergoing deep-seated transformations in the
organisation of business enterprise. Business organisation has traditionally been
understood in terms of a model of corporate development confined to a single
administrative hierarchy, offering current debates a focus to contrast and gauge the
historical changes occurring in modem economies. "Chandlerism" has provided a
guiding assumption that increasingly complex, diversified businesses would evolve
ever-larger administrative structures to manage operations.
Yet many believe that business organisation now operates under a different set of
assumptions in the era of "Alliance Capitalism". Changes in business organisation
appear to embody a new chapter of business history, challenging the traditional
assumptions that Chandlerism embodies. Stripped of previous assumptions, attempts to
develop an alternative paradigm have searched for a new explanation for the strategies
and motivations associated with interfirm networking. Yet an unacknowledged
problem in this literature is that current accounts embody an assumption that modem
forms of competition and strategy occur within organisational boundaries, albeit
shifting boundaries, captured by classificatory concepts such as "alliances", "networks",
etc. Few pursue the idea that business enterprise does not simply exist within
organisational boundaries but, indeed, develops through the creation and maintenance
of new organisational forms.
In synthesising an extensive range of secondary material, this thesis argues that business
pursuits are inextricably organisational in nature. Business organisation is not simply a
by-product of business enterprise but a theoretical problematique underlying
Chandlerism and equally relevant to contemporary capitalism. At the heart of this
problematique is the idea that business organisation is tied to the 'practicalities of
capitalism' , concrete problem-solving activities which, in both latent and explicit ways,
design the organisational pursuit of business enterprise. The basic aim and contribution
of this thesis lies in developing a fundamentally different organisational thinking-a
different conceptual, analytical and theoretical system-through which to more
effectively articulate this problematique.