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Four Organizational Theory perspectives, namely Modernist, Critical theorist, Symbolic Interpretivist and Postmodernist, produce different narratives about inequality in organisations.

Choose two Organisational Theory perspectives. Based on your selected perspectives, identify and draw out the two readings out of the given list that match your chosen perspectives.

Critically analyse the two readings and evaluate how their ontological and epistemological positions result in a different understanding and narrative of inequality within organisations.

Organizational Theory Perspectives

The purpose of this essay is to identify the intensity and extent of gender, racial and other inequalities within an organisational structure. The essay will stress on the culture which inspires its members to work through the basic challenges of inequality. The survival and adaptation of the members within an organisation in the light of modernist and critical theory approaches. Comparison between these two perspectives, manager’s role in solving the problem of inequality is going to be discussed thoroughly. Positivism, subjectivism, objectivism is applied to discuss the epistemologies and ontologies of the modernist and critical theory approaches.

The truth of inequality is represented with objective reality through modernist ontology. Ontology gives information of an organisation in an objective approach (Kazarinoff, 2014). It supports the purpose, classification of an organisation, organisational structure including role, posts and relationship among employees and organisation. The modernist ontological approach clearly implies the issues of inequality.

According to modernist approach regarding epistemologies within an organisation, every individual and groups possess the same goal (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2012). The issues of conflict, power and interest – basic components of inequality are hidden behind this. Another problem in this regard is the clash between abstract and the concrete. The basic organisational objective mostly deviated with the various issues of inequality. The modernist theory connections are based on the ‘order’ and ‘control’ between the managers and non-managerial class that leads to inequality (Durkheim, 2014). Modernist epistemology primarily deals with positivism as it goes through generalised methodical observations. The modernist observation focus on the availability of documents and information which is common for all individuals working in the organisation.

While dealing with the critical theory of inequality of an organisation from a social point of view, it deals with objectivism (Denhardt & Catlaw, 2014). Objectivism here defined as the viewpoint of an individual on an objective truth or higher purpose. But due to inequality within an organisation, this truth is influenced and distorted by the varied views and beliefs. Ontology basically refers to the theory. Critical theory deals with the critical viewpoint of an individual to the organisation, so naturally, here it deals with objectivism.

Reflection of critical theory epistemology should be explained through subjectivism. Here discovery of truth is made from the tainted dominant ideology of inequality (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2012). Subjectivism here deals with the inequality issues through observation and interpretation. This critical theory deals with reflective nature and induction of the individual in an organisation.

Modernist Theory of Inequality

Typical gender roles in an organisation is a burning issue according to the modernist theory of inequality. Structures and substructures of inequality and profounded and regenerated through various practices (Acker, 2006). These substructures of inequality are created by the norms and values of the ethnic majority groups in organisations. The formal Human Resource Management practices often fail in this field to eradicate inequality (Sparrow, et al., 2016). Instead of the objective procedures, sensitivity training, and proper networking system, these efforts fail to remove inequality because the power battles are deep rooted in the organisational structure. An ethnographic approach in this regard is relevant to justify the modernist effect on inequality. The organisational members experience consistent hurdles in contextualising inequality and provide remedial measures to the employees.

Organisational behaviour has been much stressed by the modernist (Wood, et al., 2016). This is a complex field of study. According to modernist scholars inequality typically focus on particular causes like poverty in this situation people stay in a very low or nil income group, mobility- in this situation people stick to the higher classes all through their life, global inequality-this kind of situation is related to the high or low economic growth of a country or nation that sustains for a prolonged time, finally comparative inequality- in this situation a nation sustains the greater internal inequality of income (Durkheim, 2014).

The quantitative theory solves the operational research and the problem of inequality to some extent. Operational research is conducted by a diverse specialist and management experts. This is a useful tool for the levels of planning, organising, executing and control (Wood, et al., 2016). This is such an approach where the employees are given an environment with real problems, where they can suggest real solutions in solving the problem. It may be used as a valuable supplement to reduce the problem of inequality. System theory is another modernist approach to solving the problem of inequality.

This approach is related to management activity. According to this theory, an organisational system possesses three components-arrangement, objective and a plan (Tomlinson & Kiss, 2013). The arrangement if it is designed, and planned in an effective manner it must achieve the objective of an organisation. This system is interconnected, interacting arrangement for materials and human resources and interdependent in nature. It depends on sociology, psychology and managing different activities of the organisational benefits.  This is an open theory that deals with human nature and behavioural pattern (Kosut, 2012). It throws an analytical detection through which the problems of inequality may be defined and solved in a systematic manner.

Critical Theory of Inequality

This approach is self-regulatory and self-corrective. It investigates the problems as in detail from the normal behaviour and gesture pattern of the employees and takes corrective measures to eliminate the inequality issues (Acker, 2006). The theory admits there must be a social and psychological subsystem through which the organisational errors of inequality must be removed. The informal organisation system here takes accounts of the emotional and sentimental factors of an employee as a human being (Wood, et al., 2016).Here the formal and informal constitution works as a whole. Employees carry out their responsibilities as social creatures keeping in mind the equal rights of men. This structure of an organisation also gives the power which may seem formal and informal at times. The authority hierarchy sometimes gives power to individuals to transform their decision into action. But still, the structural subsystem plays an important role in solving the inequality issues of an organisation.

According to the social contingency theory, the concept of power, decision making and communication may result in transferring inequality in the organisational system (Rochat, 2014). Power controls the individuals or group to enhance inequality in a system. Power could emerge from the position, economic status, knowledge, performance, personality, physical features, or ideological differences (Acker, 2006). These may easily lead to an extreme form of inequality. If the person associated with the job becomes egoistic, the other employees also have to suffer from the situation. Communication is the significant process, lack of which can cause the severe problem of inequality. Integration and coordination among the employees lack for different reasons. If the communication graph is downwards, this will affect the growth of an organisation in total. Sometimes decision-making abilities also become partial because of the sense of inequality among the employees (Kosut, 2012).

According to critical theories, deconstruction of the privilege and power of the employee engagement issues are directly related to inequality. Inequality within the management and Human Resource Development must be discussed applying critical theories (Denhardt & Catlaw, 2014). Critical theory is associated with German writers in a Marxist tradition. This theory provides the basis for research and attempts to challenge the typical and traditional ways of thinking of an individual. This theory basically deals with the inequality among age, gender, and race, sexuality in a social structure in a wide manner and in an organisational structure in a precise way.

Karl Marx saw the inequality in terms of possession of wealth, power, or control in an organisation. Weber had a slightly different explanation – that described inequality as the ability of potential power to influence or dominate others by gaining capital, social status, and physical strength within and outside of an organisation. Actually, this is the most scientific way to explain inequality (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2012).

Gender Roles in Organizations

Within an organisation, women face inequality from the time immemorial. Women have long challenged the already acquired position of the male predominant (Dorling & Dorling, 2015). In 1792 Early feminists point out that that man allegedly prevented women from having legal or political rights in an organisation or society. In the 1960’s women began to protest on the issues of the treatment of inequality by men in the workplace (Acker, 2006). Radical feminists Shulamith Firestone exclaimed that women were unaware of their rights and femininity because both the definitions are given by men.  

The root of inequality in organisations also differs from class and race (Roth, 2012). The class is socially determined through the financial or monetary distinction between groups of people or community. The CEO of the big industry rules at the top of the national and global society which belongs to a high class. In a smaller organisation, the owner of the organisation possesses the class power in comparison to the employees. Thus a class can be well defined through inequality within an organisation.

The race is another social difference that makes great sense to inequality in the long run. Race refers to the group who emerged from certain belief and culture following historical domination or oppression. The race is a common basis for inequality among the organisational structure.

Inequality embedded in the structure, agency, and ethnic minority strategies are directly approaching to the organisational opportunity structures. Observing women’s status in an organisation is the best way to deal with the inequality problem. Some companies with their cooperative nature and democratic objective may try to minimise the problems of inequality (Kosut, 2012). Most organisations where rigid bureaucracies prevail inequality becomes the most rooted factor in those organisations. To control the organisational inequality, they should control the power of managers, ensure the mental well-being of an employee and provide the opportunity to an employee to grow to the fullest and achieve the highest position according to his potential power (Munir, 2015).

Organisation theorists have propounded many types of control like direct control, indirect control and internalised control. Direct controls include monetary reward, wages, bureaucratic rules, various punishment for breaking the rules (Denhardt & Catlaw, 2014). Internal controls include the structures and rules prevailing in the organisation. Indirect control includes control through modern technologies like observing phone calls, the time spent online and controlled the flows of information.

Inequality problems, however, can be challenged and transformed into a healthy organisational culture. But the change does never come in a smooth way. Successful efforts can be noticed when social movement and legal support from outside combine with the insiders of the organisation (Munir, 2015). Organisational citizenship behaviour is that process which describes the positive and constructive acts of the employees which support their co-workers and help to reduce inequality within the workplace. OCB has shown to have positive impacts on dealing with inequality. This enhances the cooperation among co-workers, job satisfaction which is enough to fight inequality among workplace (Rochat, 2014). It produces an equal opportunity for the employees, to enhance productivity, to attract and retain good employees, create better communication among the employees to work as a big team.

Organizational Behavior and Inequality


Figure 1: Organisational citizenship Behaviour

Source: (Mahembe & Engelbrecht, 2014)

In modern day world, the Human Resource Management is undoubtedly an essential factor for improving an organisational culture. Managers must emphasise on strategic planning, and proper execution, to remove stress and inequality among employees. The following measures must be taken by the managers to eradicate inequality. They should predict the conflicting opinions of the employees and counsel them regularly on the sentimental issues (Tourish, 2014). The conflicting employees must be involved in handling projects together and in this way mutual respect should be gained. Commitment to the work, preventing the powerful social groups, moderating the situation with compromise and ease, and sometimes it’s better to regulate the situation by using power and authority. Changing the individual into a positive one may help the situation (Wright, 2016). Collaboration with the employees, confronting with a difference and exchanging of ideas may find the solution to solve the problem of inequality.


The above discussion is based on the analytical approach of growing inequality among men and women and division of labour in an organisation. Findings prove that most organisation have male predominance. The controllable measures to improve organisational situations, for the inclusion of women employees more in an organisation, have been suggested. Through minimising the gender bias, the role of a manager of the company to settle the problem of inequality in an organisation has been discussed in the essay. The problem of inequality has been analysed through modernism and critical theory. Comparison of both the perspectives and their reflection in an organisation have been successfully made in connection to inequality.


Acker, J., 2006. Inequality regimes gender, class, and race in organizations. Gender & society, 20(4), pp. 441-464.

Denhardt, R. & Catlaw, T., 2014. Theories of public organization. 2 ed. London: Cengage learning.

Dorling, D. & Dorling, D., 2015. Injustice: Why social inequality still persists. 5 ed. NJ: Policy Press.

Durkheim, E., 2014. The division of labor in society. 1 ed. NY: Simon and Schuster.

Friend, J. & Jessop, N., 2013. Local Government and Strategic Choice (Routledge Revivals): An Operational Research Approach to the Processes of Public Planning. s.l.: Routledge.

Hatch, M. J. & Cunliffe, A. L., 2012. Organization theory: modern, symbolic and postmodern perspectives. 2 ed. London: Oxford university press.

Kazarinoff, N., 2014. Analytic inequalities. s.l.:Courier Corporation.

Kosut, M., 2012. Encyclopedia of gender in media. 3 ed. London: Sage.

Mahembe, B. & Engelbrecht, A., 2014. Mahembe, B. and Engelbrecht, A.S., 2014. The relationship between servant leadership, organisational citizenship behaviour and team effectiveness. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 40(1), pp. 01-10.

Munir, K., 2015. A loss of power in institutional theory. Journal of Management Inquiry, 24(1), pp. 90-92.

Rochat, P., 2014. Early social cognition: Understanding others in the first months of life. Psychology Press, 1(1), p. 121.

Roth, S., 2012. Professionalisation Trends and Inequality: experiences and practices in aid relationships. Third World Quarterly, 33(8), pp. 1459-1474.

Sparrow, P., Brewster, C. & Chung, C., 2016. Globalizing human resource management. s.l.: Routledge.

Tomlinson, R. & Kiss, I. e., 2013. Rethinking the process of operational research & systems analysis. s.l.: Elsevier.

Tourish, D., 2014. Leadership, more or less? A processual, communication perspective on the role of agency in leadership theory. Leadership, 10(1), pp. 79-98.

Wood, J. et al., 2016. Organisational behaviour: Core concepts and applications. John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd, 2(1), p. 121.

Wright, T., 2016. Workplace Interactions in Male-Dominated Organisations. In Gender and Sexuality in Male-Dominated Occupations. 127-162 ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

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