Rational vs Natural Systems:

Why did two such differing perspectives arise?
(All below from Scott p. 74-75)

Lawrence and Lorsch (1967) propose that some of the differences were due to the experiences and background of the researchers themselves. Among the rational theorists, many like Fayol, Mooney, and Urwick had managerial experience. Taylor was an industrial engineer. However, among the natural theorists -- Mayo, Roethlisberger, Selznick, McGregor, and Parsons were all academics (except Barnard). Independent professors would naturally react against the formalism of plant organizations.

A second explanation was that each perspective focused on different organizations. Rational systems analysists looked at industrial firms and state bureaucracies, while natural theorists focused on service and professional organizations (schools, hospitals, YMCA, etc.). There are big differences in degree of structuration between these types of organizations. Lawrence and Lorsch add that the two classes of organizations also exist in very different environments.

Scott believes there are real differences in conception between the two perspectives. The rational theorists only see the task-related behavior of individuals as relevant, while the natural theorists look at broader behaviors that impact motivation, commitment, etc. Also, the rational theoriests use a mechanical conception of organizations, while the natural theorists use an organic model. Their precursors on the rational side are philosophers like Hobbes, Lenin, and Saint-Simon and on the natural side with Rosseau, Burke, and Durkheim, and it's unlikely the two views will be resolved soon.