Inside Organizations and Out. Methodological Tenets for Empirical Research Inspired by Systems Theory

  • Cristina Besio TU Berlin
  • Andrea Pronzini University of Lucerne
Keywords: organizational research, systems theory, functional method, semantic analysis, management research


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. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1003165


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Author Biographies

Cristina Besio, TU Berlin
Cristina BESIO (Dr. rer. soc.) is a research fellow/lecturer at the Department of Sociology, TU Berlin. Her research focuses on systems theory, scientific communication, organizations, and ethics. She studied sociology in Urbino, Berlin and Bielefeld.
Andrea Pronzini, University of Lucerne
Andrea PRONZINI (lic. Phil. I) is a research fellow at the University of Lucerne. His research interests include systems theory, political and media studies, and organizational communication. He studied sociology in Zurich.