As Organisms

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Images of Organizations
Gareth Morgan – 1997
Morgan discusses organizations
metaphorically in an attempt to
explain them more fully
Think of the blind men and the
elephant…
1
Organizations are instruments
created to achieve some end(s):
The origin of the word is from
Greek “organon” – a tool or
instrument
Earliest organizations –
pyramid building, churches,
armies
Mechanized with advent of
machines
2
1.As Machines:
efficient, routines, reliable,
predictable
Organizations that are designed and
operated as if they were machines
are now usually called
bureaucracies.
“Rules” for the machinery
3
Classical management theories
and theorists:
Organizations can or should be
rational systems that operate in
as efficient a manner as possible
Gave little attention to human
aspects of organizations
4
Strengths of this approach:
Works well if
•Are straightforward tasks to perform
•In stable environment
•To produce many identical products
•When precision is at a premium
•When humans are compliant,
behave as designed to do
5
Limitations:
•Create orgs that can’t adapt easily
to change
•Can result in mindless,
unquestioning bureaucracy
•Can have dehumanizing effects
6
2.As Organisms – living systems
Began with Elton Mayo, Hawthorne
Studies
Work activities influenced as much
by nature of human beings as by
formal design
7
Employees work best when
motivated by tasks to perform;
process of motivation hinges on
allowing people to achieve
rewards that satisfy personal
needs
Since 1960s – research on
increasing productivity, improving
work quality, reducing
absenteeism, turnover
8
Open System
Systems approach studied
separately…
9
Strengths/Limitations of Organism
approach:
•Emphasis on understanding of
relations between orgs and
environments
•Management can be improved
through systematic attention to
“needs” to be satisfied if org is to
survive
10
•Identifying “species” of orgs gives a
range of options
•Stresses virtueo of organic forms of
org in process of innivation
•Contributions to org development,
particularly in contingency approach
•Focus on “ecology” and interorganizational relations
11
Limitations:
•Too concrete a view of orgs and
their environments
•Misleading to suggest that orgs
need to “adapt” to environment
•“Functional unity” not an apt
metaphor
•Danger of the metaphor becoming
an ideology
12
3. As Brains
Concept of the learning organization
Holography – whole encoded in all of
the parts
Cybernetics – focus on information,
feedback
Single-loop learning vs. double-loop
learning
13
4 key principles:
1.Capacity to sense, monitor,
scan significant aspects of the
environment
2.Relate to operational norms
3.Detect significant deviation
from norms
4.Initiate corrective action
14
Cybernetics principles
1.Systems must have capacity to
sense, monitor, scan environment
2. They must be able to relate
information to operating norms to
guide system behavior
3.They must be able to detect
significant deviations from norms
4.They must be able to initiate
corrective action
15
Single-loop vs. Double-loop learning:
Single-loop – detect, correct errors in
relation to given set of operating norms
Basic skill to keep org “on course”
Double-loop takes a “double look” by
questioning operating norms
Scan environment ---- compare against
norms --- question whether norms
appropriate --- initiate appropriate
action.
16
Difficult for orgs to review and
challenge basic paradigms of
operations
Bureaucratization creates
fragmented patterns of thought,
action
Defensive behaviors for selfprotection
“Challenger disaster”
17
Implications for “brain” metaphor –
counters traditional views – imposing
goals on employees
Setting goals (from cybernetics) –
setting objectives important, but
must be space for questioning, for
learning and innovation
US – objectives as hard, fast, clearly
stated
Japan – objectives “emerge” from
values exploration by employees
18
Orgs as “holographic” brains:
1.Build the “whole” into the “parts” –
diversified roles, teams, vision as “DNA”
2.Importance of redundancy – in information
processing, in work design, skills
3.Requisite variety – internal complexity to
match environment
4.Minimum specs – define no more than
necessary
5.Learn to learn – double-loop, scan
environment
19
4. As Cultures
Cultural differences between
companies (between
different businesses):
beliefs, routines, rituals
American vs. Japanese
companies
Diversity/gender issues
20
A corporate culture develops an
ETHOS, created and sustained by
social processes, images,
symbols, rituals
(Ethos: the distinguishing
character, sentiment, moral
nature, or guiding beliefs of a
person, group, or institution)
21
Bateson – culture of US businesses
recreates patterns of parent-child
relations:
Rewards, positive reinforcement,
“Golden banana”
Leadership styles can create
“superficial appearance of harmony
while driving conflict underground”
Team approach – carries set of
obligations of members for each
other
22
Geneen (ITT) – motivation through
fear
Different professional groups may
each have a different view of the
world and of the nature of their
organization (accountants, DC’s)
23
Nature of a culture – norms,
customs, if one adheres to rules
one will be successful….
Creating a culture within an
organization – culture as an
ongoing, proactive process of
reality construction
“shared frames of reference” –
internal slogans
24
Culture evolved form of social
practice influence by many complex
interactions between peopole,
events, situations, actions, general
circumstances
Culture is self-organizing and
always evolving
25
6. As political systems
Organizations as loose networks of
people with divergent interests who
gather together for the sake of
expediency
Concepts of leadership/teamwork
relevant here
Leadership types/models
Power and conflict relevant too
“wheeling and dealing”
26
Orgs as systems of government:
Autocracy
Bureaucracy
Technocracy
Codetermination
Representative democracy
Direct democracy
Mixed types
27
Aristotle – politics stems from a
diversity of interests – generates
“wheeling and dealing,” negotiation,
coalition building, mutual influence
Task interests
Career interests
Extramural interests
Relationship and tension between job
and other activity – overlap; striking a
“balance”
28
Political metaphor encourages us to
see orgs as loose networks of peole
with divergent interests who gather
together for the sake of epediency
Coalition of diverse stakeholders in
coalition with multiple goals
Power
Conflict
Decision-making
29
7.As Psychic Prisons
“Plato’s Cave”
People in organizations imprisoned,
confined by images, thoughts,
actions – “the way we’ve always
done it here”
Group behavior – groupthink defensive behavior
Group dynamics, effective
leadership, innovation and change
30
Orgs can get caught in vicious
circles whereby victories and
strengths become weaknesses
leading to their downfall. Ways of
seeing become ways of not seeing.
The last thing a fish is likely to
discover is the water in which it is
swimming.
31
Defense mechanisms pervade almost
every aspect of organizational
activity; people construct realities
wherein threats and concrens
become embodied in structures for
coping with anxiety…
Sometimes shared fears, concerns,
general anxiety
Aspects of organizational structure
can be understood as social defenses
against anxiety
32
Patterns of unconscious anxiety
often exert a decisive influence on
coalition building and the politics of
organizational life
(union organizing)
33
Work of Carl Jung – “psychic
energy” and “archetype”
Jung’s work has major implications
for understanding how people enact
organizational reality:
•Relations between internal and
external life
•Role of archetypes in shaping
understanding of external world
34
Jung’s work led Isabelle Myers
and Katherine Briggs to develop
MBTI – personality type
indicator
Looks at ways people process
data about the world and make
judgments
35
Psychic prison metaphors lie at
center of many organizational
issues relating to group dynamics,
effective leadership, innovation
and change
Also help us understand
limitations of other metaphors
(“learning organization,” cultural
cultures)
36
8.As changing entities
Autopoiesis – livings systems as
organizationally closed,
autonomous systems of
interactions
Chaos- unpredictable events and
behaviors acquire coherent form
–
Managing change
37
“You cannot step twice into the same
river”
Universe as flowing, unbroken
wholeness
Process, flux, change as fundamental
38
1.Autopoeisis – the way we see and
manage change is product of how
we see/think about ourselves and
how we enact relationships with the
environment
2. Chaos and complexity –
organizations and their
relationships with the environment
– key organizing rules tend to hold
these relationships in particular
correlation
39
3. Mutual causality : Cybernetic
concept: change is enfolded in strains,
tensions found in circular relations;
keys to management
4. Change is the product of tensions
between opposites – dialectical
analysis – paradoxes and tensions
created when elements of a system
try to push in a new direction
40
Organizations as Instruments of
Domination
Organizations have a large negative
impact on our world
Combination of achievement and
exploitation – of environment, of
workers
Authority and power and its use and
misuse
41
Understanding ultimately rests in the
ability to recognize how many
different phenomena are really part
of a coherent whole – Heisenberg
Conclusions:
•No “one way” to see an organization
•Dealing with diverse perspectives
•Understand and deal with complexity
•Imaginization – imagine in new ways
42
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