Thèse de doctorat en Sciences Economiques
Soutenue en 2003
Pas de résumé disponible.
Role of interactions between formal and informal structures of the firm : an analysis in terms of communities
This thesis is a contribution to the economic theory of the firm. This domain of research studies the elementary unit of the economy, the enterprise. To account for this specific object, the theory of the firm must address five main questions: the boundary of the firm, its organisation, its formation, its growth and diversification, and the role of the entrepreneur [Casson, 1998]. This work does not aim at dealing with these five issues but seek to contribute to the enhancement of our understanding of firms internal organisation. We address this question within the framework of the knowledge-based economy. This framework takes as a central hypothesis the fact that knowledge is a key asset for firms in an economy within which competencies and innovation capabilities are at the root of value creation. We thus address firms organisational problems, when they have to articulate various knowledge and create the necessary conditions for the production of new knowledge in order to achieve the highest possible competitiveness. More specifically, we adopt the simonian hypothesis of agent's procedural rationality [Simon, 1982]. Learning processes of agents and continuous discovery of their physical and social environment are considered as basic mechanisms that condition the coordination of their activities. Our problematic is thus the following: "How formal and informal structures within the firm are articulated, and what are the impacts of their interactions upon performances?". The idea that informal networks play an essential role in the functioning of organisations is longstanding in sociology of organisations and in management studies [Crozier et Friedberg, 1977]. These networks came back on the forefront when knowledge and organisational learning have been put at the core of researches on firms. Indeed, numerous works considered that an important part of these knowledge and processes take place in informal structures of the firm, and not only in its hierarchical structures. It is thus essential to determine the functioning of these particular social structures as well as the way management can take advantage of these [Brown et Duguid, 1991]. In order to account for the existence of these informal networks within organisations, we mobilise a concept borrowed from sociology, that is the one of "community". By "community", we mean a group of individuals who interact on a regular basis, directly and in a multifaceted way. In that sense, persons working together are usually communities, as are some neighbourhoods, groups of friends, professional and business networks, gangs and sportive leagues. This list suggests that connection rather than affection is the determining characteristic of a community[. . . ]