Resource Mobilization

Mobilization is "the process of forming crowds, groups, assiciations, and organizations for the pursuit of collective goals" (Oberschall quoted in Scott p. 169). Organizations do not "spontaneously emerge" but require the mobilization of resources.

In modern capitalistic society, these resources are more "free flowing" and are easier to mobilize than in more traditional societies. Many factors impact the development of the oranization:

Initial Resource Mix
There are various resource needs in a starting organization (technology, labor, capital, organizational structure, societal support, legitimacy, etc.). But the right mix of resources are not always available, leading Stinchcombe to note that organizational development seems to occur in spurts followed by long periods of stability (Stinchcombe, 1965).

One of the most important determininants of new organizations is technological change. Some are "competency-enhancing" which strengthen existing firms, and some are "competency-destroying" which cause upheavals in existing institutions and spur the creation of new organizations (Tushman and Anderson, 1986).

Organizations which form at the same time often have similar structures (organizational cohort) because they are created out of the same mix of social resources (Stinchcombe, 1965). Furthermore, their form is imprinted and it's likely they will retain that form as they grow.

Balance of Contributions and Inducements
The most important resource of an organization is it's people. Barnard (1938) stressed that motivating participants to continue to make contributions is one of the most important activities of managment. Simon built Barnard's observations into the Barnard-Simon theory of organizational equilibrium, which refers to the organization's ability to attract sufficient contributions to ensure it's survival (Scott p. 171). Clark and Wilson (1961) differentiate between three types of incentives-- material, solidary, and purposive, and note that different types of organizations rely on different incentives systems.

Membership Demographics
The demographics of the particpants has a lasting impact on organizational structure (McNeil and Thompson, 1971). It's affected by the growth rate of the organization and the industry in general, personnel hiring practices, and promotion norms (from within, without) and unionization (Pfeffer, 1983).

Kanter (1977) found that racial, gender, age demographics has an impact on attitudes and performance of a group. For example, women at the top of management are often "tokens" with higher pressures to perform.

Reed (1978) looked at the impact of cohorts (a population that experiences the same events at the same periods of their life). Cohorts can influence careers and affect organizational behavior (especially the cohort-in-charge).


Acquisition of Resources
Researches have found that discontent is only secondary to the emergence of insurgency -- available resources and the power of the aggrieved are more important (Scott p. 176). Another example is ethnic enclaves, where discrimination in larger society fuels the development of a sub-market based on ethnicity and social ties.

New organizations often fail. 54% of the failed organizations during 1980 were 5 years old or less (Scott p. 177).