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Institute on Organizations and Their Effectiveness

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CASBS played a major role in the early decades of the study of organizations.

Some of the foundational work in the field was conducted at the Center – by economists, political scientists, social psychologists, and sociologists: Kenneth Arrow, Ronald Coase, Robert Dahl, Charles Lindblom, James March, Robert Merton, Roy Radner, Philip Selznick, Herbert Simon, Oliver Williamson, and Harold Wilensky.

In 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, CASBS returned to the tradition with a two-week Summer Institute for social and behavioral scientists on “Organizations and Their Effectiveness.” An important aspect of the institute is that it is highly interdisciplinary; it brings together a cohort of promising young researchers from a wide range of fields, including communication, economics, education, management, political science, social psychology, and sociology.

The Institute reconvened in the summer of 2023. An important CASBS goal is not only to shape but also to integrate contributions from different disciplines approaching individual questions in a collaborative manner. Accordingly, one aim of the institute is to bring participants out of fragmented disciplinary silos and away from traditional departmental and institutional constraints, and instead promote a depth and breadth of thinking. An even larger purpose is to revitalize the field of organizations over a period of years by cultivating a new cadre of cross-disciplinary, problem-solving scholars who attain fluency in a wide set of theories and methods. The institute seeks to harness the “gains from trade” from studying various types of organizations – firms, legislatures, hospitals, courts, churches, schools, and social movements – and spread learning from instances of “bright spots” and successful performance within and among them.

The institute is co-directed by Robert Gibbons (MIT; CASBS fellow 1994-95, 2014-15) and Woody Powell (Stanford; CASBS Director 2022-2023; CASBS fellow 1986-87, 2008-09). 

For more information, please contact CASBS program director Zachary Ugolnik (