The CSO was founded by Michel Crozier in the early sixties. It became a joint program of Sciences Po and the CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in 2001. Olivier Borraz is its current director.Initially, the CSO was known for its work on the French state and public administration, but it quickly broadened its research to include the public and private sectors, both domestic and international.
The chief emphasis of the CSO is on the sociology of organizations, which examines agents and their behaviour to understand how different forms of cooperation are established. Besides the above, researchers also explore fields such as economic sociology and the sociology of public action. Currently, the CSO systematizes its research with 7 broad research programs, which address essential issues such as economic behavior, higher education and research, firms, labor markets and professional groups, risk, healthcare, and regional studies and urban development.
Ever since 2012, the CSO is the founding member of the LIEPP (Laboratoire interdisciplinaire d'évaluation des politiques publiques) in Sciences Po, selected by laboratory of excellence (Labex) and financed by the government as one of its “Investments for the future”.