Dilbert, Jim March, and Sociological Institutionalism

Today’s Dilbert:

Scott Adams is like the Jim March of the comic book world.  His comics are a great reminder that organizations aren’t the rational, optimizing creatures that we often imagine.

One of the big challenges in teaching cultural/phenomenological institutionalism is to convey the counter-intuitive principles.  How do you get people to consider the idea that organizations or states something other than “strategic actors”?  That they engage in ritualized activity?  That they get swept up in fads?  Or, as the comic below suggests, that rational, strategic planning is yet one more set of cultural pretenses that organizations enact in highly ritualized ways.

Well, it often helps to be dealing with people who actually have real-life experiences.  Students who have never been employed in a full-time job are often the most committed to functionalist or rationalist imageries about organizational life.

And, sometimes it helps to show Dilbert cartoons.  And, to read Jim March’s work.  (Even better to take his courses… which remain some of my fondest classroom memories ever.)


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