Formal Organisation

  • Wed 1 Nov 17

    13:00 - 15:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Professor Paul du Gay

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Work, Organisation and Society

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) is delighted to welcome Professor Paul du Gay to our weekly research seminar series to present his paper, titled 'For Formal Organization'.

Event abstract

With de-institutionalisation all around us, it seems important once again to discuss the significance and indeed positivity of our field’s ‘core object’: 'formal organisation'. Clearly, in recent decades ‘formal’ organisation has been subject to continuous criticism. Not only is it represented as ill suited to the realities of the contemporary organisational world, but as a key element in the production of serious organisational dysfunctions. For that reason informal and spontaneous modes of organising have been frequently posited as preferable substitutes, because, in contrast to the formal, they allegedly allow for and cultivate enhanced creativity, inventiveness, flexibility, speed, and indeed, freedom. Thus, the province of ‘formality’ and the positivity of ‘formal organisation’ have been significantly devalued. In this talk, I will argue that this mentality has contributed to institutional decline. After all, if everybody is told to continually think outside of the box, as it were, you have to expect that the boxes themselves will begin to deteriorate. I will suggest that the ongoing denigration of ‘formality’ and ‘formal organisation’ does indeed produce such deterioration. In so doing, I will seek to indicate the continuing significance of formality for good practical organisation in general, and, in particular, for the responsible political administration of a state. I will do so by discussing what can happen when formal organisation in government faces a ‘frontal assault’, as it currently does in the USA under the Trump Presidency.

Speaker biography

Paul du Gay is Professor in the Department of Organisation at Copenhagen Business School where he has directed the School’s ‘Business in Society’ Public-Private Platform for the last five years and leads the Velux Foundation research programme on the ethics of public Office-Holding (Office as a Vocation). Paul is also Professor and Director of Research in the School of Management, Royal Holloway, University of London. His publications include In Praise of Bureaucracy, The Values of Bureaucracy, New Spirits of Capitalism? Crises, justifications and dynamics, and For Formal Organization: the past in the present and future of Organization Theory.

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