Excerpt from The Attainment of Organization Goals Through Appropriate Selection of Sub-Unit Goals The second body of thought of particular interest here goes under the heading of the behavioral theory of the firm. Described in detail by Cyert and March it draws on the descriptive hypotheses of organizational behavior presented by Barnard March and Simon (1958)and others. The focus of this research is on the description and understanding of organiza cional behavior rather than its improvement. Although dependent in part on mathematical modeling the research has utilized observation, simulation, and laboratory experimentation extensively. The differences between these two bodies of thought can be conveniently classified into those of purpose and of underlying assumptions. The first has already been alluded to. The body of research which is most closely related to the traditional assumptions of economic theory has been devoted to the design of optimal systems; it is essentially normative, focusing on the best way of doing things, with the behavior or individuals within organizations and the aims of organizations to be known. The behavioral theory of the firm approach however, is essen tially descriptive in character where the efficacy of extant organizations is taken as given but the actual behavior of individuals and the organization as a whole assumed as the subject for investigation.
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