Sociology of Organisations

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to historically introduce the discipline and to illustrate the economic theories of organization (transaction costs theories; moral hazard and principal-agent theories) and the sociological criticisms and integrations to these approaches. In the light of such theories, the recent process of organizational reform in public administration will be discussed considering some European countries, by quoting examples from the healthcare sector and with particular attention to personnel management (motivation; incentive systems; controls).
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course the student will be able to recognize the economic organizational theories, the sociological criticisms and integrations to these approaches, the recent process of organizational reform in the public administration considering some European countries, with particular attention to the healthcare sector and to the personnel management.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Third trimester
In the phase of emergency lessons should be carried out face-to-face. In case the emergency conditions during the third trimester do not allow face-to-face lessens, lessons will be carried out online, in streaming, using the Microsoft Teams platform. Lessons will be carried out in the scheduled time. In case of persistence of the emergency phase, examination will consist of a written test, which will be performed face-to-face (like the ordinary way) or online, according to the ways and the cases defined by the University regulation.
Course syllabus
First and second part of the course.
Definitions of organization. The 'classic school' of organizations: Taylor and Weber. The limits of the 'classic school': Robert Merton and the unintended consequences of bureaucracy. Michel Crozier and its critical examination of the bureaucratic phaenomenon. The crisis of the tayloristic organization. From fordism to the new ways of production. The Japanese or Toyota model. Old and new institutionalism in sociology of organization. The economic approaches: Williamson and the transaction cost theory; Ouchi and the concept of clan. The moral hazard.
Third part of the course.
Organizational reform and reform of the employment relations in the public administration in Italy and other European countries in recent years: the New
Public Management. Two examples: institutional reform and organizational change in the local government and in the health sector in Italy.
Prerequisites for admission
No preliminary knowledge is required
Teaching methods
The course will include lectures and discussions. Students will be stimulated to analyze organizational situations drawn by empirical knowledge, suggesting possibile solutions to critical elements which will emerge in the discussion. Some issues and case studies will be deepened with the participation of external experts and scholars.
Teaching Resources
First and second part of the course
1) Bonazzi G., Come studiare le organizzazioni, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2006 (all the sections and chapters of the book, except for chapter V)
2) Bonazzi G., Storia del pensiero organizzativo, Milano, Franco Angeli, 2007, ultima edizione (only two chapters of this second book are required, respectively entitled "L'organizzazione scientifica del lavoro, ovvero il taylorismo" and "Nel post-fordismo: specializzazione flessibile, produzione snella e fabbrica modulare")
3) Suggested reading: Bordogna L. (ed.), Individuo e organizzazione. Materiali di analisi organizzativa, Bologna: Il Mulino, 2005 or last reprint (it can be found in the Faculty bookstore; copies are available in the Faculty Library).
Slides discussed in classes and uploaded on ARIEL.

Third part of the course
1) Pollitt C., Bouckaert G., La riforma del management pubblico, Egea, Milano, 2002 (pp. 25-43 e pp. 79-123).
2) Mapelli V., Il sistema sanitario italiano, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2012 new edition, chapters 6 and 7 (pp. 155-201) and chapter 8, paragraphs 4-3 (pp. 214-224).
3) Neri S., Servizi di welfare e Comuni. Nuove politiche e trasformazioni organizzative, Carocci, Roma, 2020, only chapter 1 (pp. 19-38) e chapter 3, par. 3.2 e 3.3 (pp. 78-92).
Slides discussed in classes and uploaded on ARIEL.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a written test, including 11-13 questions (3-4 multiple choice questions and 8-9 open-ended questions). The test has to be perfomed in 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no oral examination.
The exam includes questions concerning both the theoretical approaches illustrated in the course and in the references books, and case studies or examples drawn by organizational contexts described in the course. The exam is aimed at assessing;
- students' knowledge and comprehension of the theories described in the course, allowing students to grasp the complexity of organizations and to analyse organizational rules, structures, behaviors and processes;
- the development of competences, which make students able to analyze how public and private organizations work, both in the manufacturing and in the service sector, identifying some critical issues typical of those organizations and suggesting possible solutions;
- the acquisition of adequate communication skills, with particular regard to the specific language of the sociology of organization. Students are required to show their ability to describe organizational phenomena and properly discuss organizational issues and situations, which are suggested by scientific literature or empirically observable;
- the development of learning abilities in organizational behavior, processes and phenomena, allowing them to deepen on their own main issues in this field of study.
Lessons: 60 hours
Professor: Neri Stefano
Educational website(s)
Saturday,, 10:00-13:00. online. via Microsoft Teams or Skype. Please, contact the techer by the day before the reception hours, in order to agree an appointment
Microsoft Teams or Skype. If the receptions hours take place face-to-face, Room 6, New building (the building where lesson rooms 10, 11, 12, 13 are located)