Rationality and reality in organizational management: Using the coupling metaphor to understand educational (and other) organizations – a concluding comment

In this paper, I argue that ideas about loose coupling can serve a useful purpose in organization theory, but only if they are re-worked substantially. This re-working, I argue, will involve merging ideas about loose coupling with ideas found in other lines of work developed contemporaneously, including research on the “new” managerialism, institutional theory, and organizational ecology. Such a re-working, I hope, will entail closer attention to the elements in educational systems that can be coupled and to an expanded list of coupling mechanisms. Using this expanded list of coupling mechanisms, and thinking more clearly about how educational organizations are embedded in dense and complex webs of couplings calls for a movement away from an exclusive concern with loose and tight couplings among dyadic elements in organizational systems, and toward a concern with “tangled” couplings.