Paul R. Lawrence

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Paul R. Lawrence (April 26, 1922 – November 1, 2011) was an American sociologist, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Harvard Business School, and consultant. He is known from his 1967 work with Jay W. Lorsch, entitled Organization and environment: Managing differentiation and integration, a pioneering work in the field of contingency theory.


  • We humans are truly marvelous, adaptable creatures, products of an exciting and inspiring — even though often dangerous — evolutionary story, a story to be celebrated with conviction and enthusiasm even as we move on to new challenges.
    • Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices, 2002
  • Humans have evolved a leadership brain. Good leaders are people with a conscience who respect and reward all the four drives of other stakeholders [the drive to acquire, to defend, to bond, and to comprehend], even as they respect and reward their own drives.

"Differentiation and integration in complex organizations," 1967


Paul R. Lawrence and Jay W. Lorsch. "Differentiation and integration in complex organizations." Administrative science quarterly (1967): 1-47.; Also published in: Lex Donaldson (ed.). Contingency theory, 1995.

  • This is a comparative study of six organizations operating in the same industrial environment. The subsystems (sales, research, and production) in each organization were differentiated from each other in terms of subsystem formal structures, the member's goal orientation, member's time orientations and member's interpersonal orientations. This differentiation was related to the requirements of the particular subenvironment with which each subsystem dealt. A relationship was found between the extent to which the states of differentiation and integration in each organization met the requirements of the environment and the relative economic performance of the organizations.
    • p. 1
  • CONSIDERABLE attention has recently been devoted to understanding behavior in large organizational systems. Although some of this work has been based on research, it has more typically been general theorizing with little support from research data. Our interest in examining complex organizations is to study more systematically and empirically their internal functioning in relation to the demands of the external environment on the organization and the ability of the organization to cope effectively with these demands, contributing to a theory of the functioning of large organizations based on empirical research.
    • p. 2
  • March and Simon's work reflects a key concern with the issue of inducing contributions from organizational members and emphasizes rationality in organizations. The writing of Likert and McGregor reflects a central interest in organizational arrangements for releasing the underutilized energy of individual members. Argyris' work emphasizes the impact of the organization on individual development. All of these writers tend to start with the individual as the basic unit of analysis and build toward the large organization, while we are proposing to start with larger, sociological entities- the entire organization and its larger subsystems.
    • p. 3

Organization and environment: Managing differentiation and integration, 1967


Paul R. Lawrence and Jay W. Lorsch, Organization and environment: Managing differentiation and integration (1967).

  • The state of segmentation of the organizational system into subsystems, each of which tends to develop particular attributes in relation to the requirements posed by its relevant external environment. Differentiation, as used here, includes the behavioral attributes of members of organizational subsystems.
    • p. 4
  • [Integration is defined as] the process of achieving unity of effort among the various subsystems in the accomplishment of the organization's task.
    • p. 4
  • Orientation of members toward others [is] a cognitive and affective orientation toward the objects of work, which is manifested in a person's interpersonal style.
    • p. 7
  • The act of segmenting the organization into departments would influence the behavior of organizational members in several ways. The members of each unit would become specialists in dealing with the particular tasks. Both because of their prior education and experience and because of the nature of their task, they would develop specialized working styles and mental processes.
    • p. 9
  • By differentiation we mean the differences in cognitive and emotional orientation among managers in different units and the differences in formal structure among units.
    • p. 11
  • The quality of the state of collaboration that exist among organizations that is required to achieve unity of effort by the demands of the environment.
    • p. 11
  • By integration we mean the process of achieving unity of effort among the various subsystems in the accomplishment of the organization's tasks.
    • p. 34
  • Sales personnel in all six organizations indicated a primary concern with customer problems, competitive activities, and other events in the marketplace. Manufacturing personnel were all primarily interested in problems of cost reduction, process efficiency, and similar matters.
    • p. 37
  • Other things being equal, differentiation and integration are essentially antagonistic, and that one can be obtained only at the expense of the other.
    • p. 48

Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership, 2010


Paul R. Lawrence (2010), Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership,

  • To deal with the much-discussed but still poorly understood complex of economic affairs known as globalization, we must examine its several forms from a Renewed Darwinian Theory point of view. Some can have positive effects for all parties while others inherently benefit the rich and strong at the expense of the poor and weak. Furthermore, some can be beneficial but also lend themselves to abuse, especially by people without a conscience, and therefore call for some kind of world-level impulse/check/balance control.
  • The positive and negative consequences of the various kinds of globalization and of economic growth versus economic stagnation are consistent with the Renewed Darwinism Theory's proposition that one's sense of dA fulfillment is relative to that of other people to whom one compares oneself. The innate insatiable drive to acquire cannot be fulfilled, even by a steady increase in wealth, if one is steadily falling behind others. This may be illogical—a Porsche is a Porsche, no matter what's parked in the driveway next door—but it is the way our minds have evolved to work.
  • Globalization need not work this way. Its benefits can be steered to all nations and to all levels in each nation in a more equitable manner. But a free-market, laissez-faire process will not do this automatically. It will require governmental regulatory action with guidelines and incentives that can best be established at the world level.
  • Humans will probably always need the help of especially gifted moral leaders in order to extend the bonds of caring and trust beyond the easy range of the family and the face-to-face community. Such bonds have become essential to the future of humanity.
    • p. 119

Quotes about Paul R. Lawrence

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