The CSO celebrates its 50th birthday

On the 9th and 10th of December, 2014, a colloquium took place at Sciences Po to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Center for the Sociology of Organizations. This colloquium was not only a commemoration and a celebration, but also a true intellectual meeting of minds with the goal of giving an overview of the CSO’s principal contributions to sociology and political science. For this reason, we had invited internationally renowned sociologists and political scientists (Nils Brunsson, Marie-Laure Djelic, Frank Dobbin, Peter Hall) with whom the CSO has close and long-standing ties. What we ask of them was clear: to give a cold, hard look at the research that has taken place at the CSO over the years. We had also called on scholars whose work has dealt explicitly with the intellectual production of the CSO, so that they might put it in perspective.

This colloquium was an opportunity to understand the role of the research center in the intellectual, political, and social debate, as well as its influence on certain reforms – the decentralization laws of 1982 come to mind – and the difficulties we have faced in changing an administrative model that is not far from the one denounced by Michel Crozier in his writings of the 1960s.

This occasion also gave us the chance to pay tribute to Michel’s work and contribution, as he passed away last year. He was a researcher, teacher, and intellectual, in addition to being an entrepreneur and research organizer. We believe the best way to bring his contribution to light is by carefully analyzing the conditions which have allowed the CSO to be, right from the start, a true “research workshop,” in which PhD students and researchers work together to learn the trade of sociology and to produce original work.

Olivier Borraz, CSO Director
The CSO website

The CSO, yesterday and today

In the early 1960s,  Michel Crozier assembled a group of young researchers who were to become the core of his team. They took up residence in 1962 on the rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, at Paris, in the Jean Moulin Club building, of which Crozier was an active member. The group’s research on French administration, which started in 1964 with funding from the DGRST*, gave the group a sense of solidarity. It was then recognized by the CNRS as early as 1967, and took the name “Center for the Sociology of Organizations” in 1970, to become an autonomous CNRS research group in 1975.

Crozier managed his team like a “small-business owner,” welcoming students who wanted to learn the craft of sociology by participating in fieldwork organized by the researchers in the team.