- First, the rules and procedures of the organization may themselves have behavioral consequences that lead consistently to a certain kind of outcome.
- Second, different organizational forms may be more or less efficient at performing their tasks, leading to consequences for the people and higher-level organizations that are depending on them.
- Third, the discrepancy between what the rules require of participants and what the participants actually do may have consequences for the outputs of the organization.
- Fourth, the specific ways in which incentives, sanctions, and supervision are implemented differentiate across organizations.
- Fifth, the organization has causal powers with respect to the behavior of the individuals involved in the organization.
There are only two fundamental causal paths identified here. The causal properties of the organization are embodied in the patterns of coordinated actions undertaken by the actors who are involved; and these orderly patterns create system effects for the organization as a whole that can be analyzed in abstraction from the individuals whose actions constitute the micro-level of the social entity.
The most obvious causal property of an organization is bound up in the function of the organization. An organization is developed in order to bring about certain social effects: reduce pollution or crime, distribute goods throughout a population, provide services to individuals, seize and hold territory, disseminate information. These effects occur as a result of the coordinated activities of people within the organization. When organizations work correctly they bring about one set of effects; when they break down they bring about another set of effects. Here we can think about organizations in analogy with technology components like amplifiers, thermostats, stabilizers, or surge protectors. This analogy suggests we think about the causal powers of an organization at two levels: what they do (their meso-level effects) and how they do it (their micro-level sub-mechanisms).