University of Leicester
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Physiology of Organisations: An Integrated Functional Perspective

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posted on 2012-01-27, 11:12 authored by Cecilia M. Dean
Organisational theories developed by academics are often regarded as complex and confusing by students and not very useful by managers. One solution to address these concerns expressed by the different audiences is to revisit earlier proposals which were rejected at the time, such as the theses proposed by Radcliffe-Brown during the 1930s for a single branch of science for the study of human society. Radcliffe-Brown’s single branch of science for human societies incorporates abstract, natural, and applied sciences, and the arts. His comprehensive proposal was intended to cover all audiences, but Radcliffe-Brown asserted that natural science, in the form of the study of the physiology of societies, was not yet available. This thesis explores the practicalities of studying the physiology of organisations and proposes a project to test Radcliffe-Brown’s theory. Various factors such as the concept of a natural science, interrelationships among functions and the consideration of scale and scope are considered and evaluated in order to find a practical approach to study the physiology of organisations and organised societies. A prototype framework for the study of human physiology, based on the laws of living persistent entities, is developed and evaluated for applicability in organisations. A meta-analysis of change projects published in academic journals formed the research approach to ensure generalisability of the analysed results, and the findings were analysed within three functional categories of internal, operations and executive functions to test the feasibility of an analogous framework for organisations. The thesis concludes that, with exceptions and areas for further research, it is possible to study the physiology of organisations and this could provide a bridge between academic theories and practical applied sciences by providing an integrated perspective on functions and their interrelationships in organisations.



Haven, Emmanuel

Date of award


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD


An adapted version of this thesis was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in August 2012; this is available from



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