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Metaphorical Views of Organisations

Question:

Discuss about the Scientific Management Principles.

The metaphors that are used by Morgan perceive organisations as a technical instrument, that is used to achieve some specific outcome. Both the humans and equipment of an organisation work together in mechanical efficiency to attain a goal (Morgan 1980). Morgan’s metaphors view organisations as living beings, which need resources to stay alive, unlike other books on organisation that take its existence for granted. Just like living organisms, the key instruments of an organisation have to survive based on different resources.

Some of these metaphors are applicable to the factory system in a very basic and primal manner: they exist even without any significant knowledge about their existence and they perform their tasks even if they are not assigned to them with any proper knowledge about their functions. Like a living organism, the organisation is considered to be a single entity that functions from a basic and core area, which processes the information and takes key decisions on behalf of the entire organisation (Örtenblad, Trehan and Putnam 2016).

On the other hand, these metaphors can also be applied after the implementation of the scientific management in order to make sure that they are used in the most efficient way possible that would be best serving for the organisation (Morgan 1980). With knowledge on the different key attributes and parts of the organisation, there would also be detailed ideas about which of these parts or entities of the organisation helps in which specific operations of the company. This would be tremendously helpful when the organisation has to focus on something specific and boost their operations in one particular field.

Morgan’s metaphors are essential in the sense that they give valuable insight into the different factors that make up the entire operations of the organisation and also give ideas regarding which of these aspects can be used in the right manner to enhance particular organisational operations.

There are many debates regarding the rational bureaucratic model of the organisation. This model is built on the previously discussed machine metaphor that has been put forth by Morgan in 1997. The current model gives specific structural arrangements and administrative activities that are focused upon attainment of goals and objectives of the orgnaisation (Burrell and Morgan 2017). The suggestions that are given by this model talks about how to effectively coordinate and control manual human labour.

Scientific Management and Metaphors

Weber’s theory of rational bureaucracy is one of the biggest influences on organisational theories and  management practices. He identified six central elements in bureaucracy, which are: a clearly defined idea about the division of labour and authority, a sense of a prevailing hierarchy within the organisation, well defined and written guidelines which lay down the criteria for performances, recruitment criteria, office holdings on vocational courses, and, duties of different positions (Mori 2017). These elements defined by Weber help a bureaucratic organisation to decide how to recruit, distribute and control the human resources that are available.

Weber also suggests several characteristics that the organisation should be possessing: the organisation should have clearly defined goals which can be achieved through a formal structure; efficiency has to be enhanced through following the organisational policies; organisational behaviour, both within the company and the industry, should be shaped by the formal structure (Burrell and Morgan 2017).


However, there is a serious debate about his arguments on his definition and ideas about authority. According to Weber, a legitimate bureaucratic authority is the basis of any organisational competency. The amount of argument against this is no less. It is a known fact that those in the place of authorities are not always the most competent ones.

There are elaborate and detailed ideas about the functions, dynamics and purpose of a bureaucratic organisation. Robert Merton has given details about the personalities that a bureaucratic organisation possesses and how do those shape its functions.

Alvin Gouldner has given ideas pertaining to the different patterns of an industrial bureaucracy. Some of these forms include mock bureaucracy, representative bureaucracy and bureaucracy oriented around punishment.

Peter Blau has given proper ideas regarding the dynamics of organisational bureaucracy. His studies, conducted in 1955, of federal and bureaucratic agencies have yielded similar results to the inferences that were made by Gouldner. Blau took the conclusions of gouldner and gave it a functional approach, which were solely focused upon the consequences of the actions and routines of organisational bureaucracy (Mori 2017). His study tried to find if bureaucracies helped an organisation to achieve its objectives and also whether it helped to produce the desired organisational behaviour. Like Metron, he believed that bureaucratic procedures often give unexpected results and result in consequences that were not anticipated before.

Philip Selznick has often been considered as the authoritative person who has been looked up to by many when it comes to studying the bureaucracy in an organisation (Burrell and Morgan 2017). His 1949 study of the Tennessee Valley Authority gives further evidences on the role that human actions have in producing deviations from attaining goals through formal rational bureaucracy.

The Rational Bureaucratic Model

Chester Bernard is one of the major influences that has shaped the ideas and studies on organisational bureaucracy, and everything it encompasses: from the reason of its existence and how may it influence and shape the operations of the organisations, as well as changing and deciding its behaviour.

Bernard viewed organisations as cooperative systems. He defined organisations as entities and structures that had complex biological, physical, personal and social components. These elements are all in a specific systematic relationship (Lefkowitz 2017). According to Bernard, humans get into arrangements that are cooperative in nature simply because they cannot they cannot achieve those alone and has to be helped by others to fulfil the collective objectives.

His viewings of the organisations were in biological terms that are similar to living organisms that are always trying to survive in a hostile environment. He further acknowledged the fact that organisations are not self-sufficient and needs to rely upon different resources that are available from outside environment that both facilitate as well as restricts the action s and functions of the organisation. For example, an organisation stands upon the basic pillars of capital, labour, equipment and resources to function (Lefkowitz 2017). On the other hand, the organisation also needs science and technologies that help it to achieve its goals and also restrict what can be achieved, depending on the technology that is currently available.

Even though the goals of an organisation are set by the higher authorities, the willingness to achieve those come from the lower levels of the organisational hierarchy. Authority of an organisation is only realised when the employees in the lower tiers accept and comply to the authoritative figures. An organisation is a purposefully coordinated entity and system of communication that links all the participants.

Even though some of Bernard’s views are based on rationality, his insistence on non-material, informal, moral and inter-personal basis for cooperation sets him apart from the rational bureaucracy advocates of an organisational hierarchy (By, Armenakis and Burnes 2015). He believed that an organisation is only successful if a common and collective purpose within the organisation can be formed, that is also morally binding for the participants of the organisation. This has to be undertaken and executed by the executive of the organisation who is responsible for creating the moral codes for the participants. It must be remembered that this notion of the organisational success has been criticised as being moral imperialism. Still, Bernard accepts the fact that this overriding purpose can be discarded if the very existence of the organisation is threatened.

Theories of Weber, Bernard, and Selznick

Even after understanding and emphasising on the moral aspects of organisational success, Bernard still acknowledges the need for environment as being the most important ingredient for the success of an organisation.

An organisation has to maintain a kind of flexibility that would help the organisation to achieve a balance in all its operations. An organisation has to ensure that a balance between the conomies of scale and economies of scope is attained, so that an overall all-encompassing organisational operation can be established. In the modern day organisations, the  management always try to create a decorum that would make the organisation both specializing in certain aspects and yet ensure that the organisation is flexible in nature, which would help the company to execute even those tasks which are not the company’s forte (Nandakumar, Jharkharia and Nair 2014). Specialisations based on assembly lines reduces the need for technical control and direct supervision. Ford Motors was the first company to have successfully used this model to increase their productivity, hence dubbing the model as Fordism. However, Fordism failed to capture the basic essence of the diversifications that had to be established in the organisation and hence, new models emerged that facilitated in the operational balance of organisations. Achieving both economies of scale and economies of scope are vital for the company to make sure that the functions of the organisation both maximizes its profits through reduced costs and also expand the organisations operations to every potential sector, that can proof beneficial for the company. When mass produced components or commodities can be produced at a lower cost and better profit can be generated, it yields significant economies to scale, which is essential for organisations as they have to continue doing business in the industry in the long term. Economies of scope refers to the condition of the organisations which help organisations to undertake different tasks and execute them successfully, making it easier to expand to new sectors (Sopelana, Kunc and Hernáez 2014). Both of these two aspects have to be balanced by the organisation, if it wants to survive in a sector.

References

Burrell, G. and Morgan, G., 2017. Sociological paradigms and organisational analysis: Elements of the sociology of corporate life. Routledge.

By, R.T., Armenakis, A.A. and Burnes, B., 2015. Organizational change: A focus on ethical cultures and mindfulness.

Lefkowitz, J., 2017. Ethics and values in industrial-organizational psychology. Taylor & Francis.

Morgan, G., 1980. Paradigms, metaphors, and puzzle solving in organization theory. Administrative science quarterly, pp.605-622.

Mori, G.T., 2017. Examining Hindrance of Bureaucracy on  Management Innovation for Organizations. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(4), pp.601-607.

Nandakumar, M.K., Jharkharia, S. and Nair, A.S. eds., 2014. Organisational flexibility and competitiveness. Springer Science & Business Media.

Örtenblad, A., Trehan, K. and Putnam, L.L. eds., 2016. Exploring Morgan’s Metaphors: Theory, Research, and Practice in Organizational Studies. SAGE Publications.

Sopelana, A., Kunc, M. and Hernáez, O.R., 2014. Towards a dynamic model of organisational flexibility. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 27(2), pp.165-183.

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