Abstract

We use a historical case study of the Institut Pasteur to articulate the concept of the transformational organization in science, an organization with the capacity to make a large number of scientific breakthroughs in a short period of time. In considering the potential characteristics that explain a burst of scientific innovations, we attempt to move beyond the standard arguments in the management and organizational sociology literature that typically focus on complex research teams with cross-fertilization of ideas. Rather, we discuss the organizational characteristics that facilitate the development of these types of mechanisms. In doing so we address the dilemma faced by organizations seeking to assemble complex teams, that is, increasing cognitive distance. To illustrate the concept of a transformational organization, we explore the formative years of the Institut Pasteur, 1889–1919.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-8034
Print ISSN
0145-5532
Pages
pp. 13-46
Launched on MUSE
2010-02-17
Open Access
No
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