Running Head: ORGANIZATION PERSPECTIVES Organization Perspective OM8010 – Principles of Organization – Theory and Practice Dr. Robin Parry Capella University August 8, 2011 Organization Perspective Abstract As organizations experience increase organizational rigidity, performance declines can be driven by decrease in innovative change and employee turnover, understanding these shifts are critical to the bottom line. A major responsibility for top managers is to interpret these shifts and to understand the complexity of organizations, to be able to respond effectively.
Understanding how the three multiple theoretical perspectives: modernism, symbolic- interpretive, and post modernism apply with the assumptions ontology and epistemology as indicators used to analyze, make changes, and decisions, for daily activities of an organization. Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006), contends that an organization is a formal structure with an internal order, a set of natural laws governing its operation, rather than operate from a subjectivity manner of management.
Obtaining a working knowledge of each perspective and being able to determine how to apply the principles and concepts offers reliance and continuity within an organizational structure.
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Applying the principles of organization theory and understanding how these different perspectives according to Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) can influence the way others experience, interpret, and shape organizational realities. Organization Perspective The rapid growth of the globalization era has changed the way businesses operate.
With this rapid growth businesses have made major changes in the way in which they operate. With the introduction of computers and other technology, changed the way in which information is given and received. The old outdated ways of doing business has changed drastically. Thus the modernism era was created. Due to the complexity of organizations the need to interpret structural changes that occur within the structure of organizations, often creates a deficit in making innovative decisions can be critical to the bottom line.
These structure shifts and changes lead to a decline in authority, lack of reliance in maintaining formalized processes and procedures, and reduce the flow of information passed down from top managers. According to Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) organizational theory (OT) and understanding how the theoretical perspectives apply within an organization can influence the way others experience, interpret; develop critical thinking skills, needed to increase productivity, to shape, and to manage the functions of an organization.
The purpose of this paper is to identify and define the three organizational theoretical perspectives: modernism, symbolic- interpretive, and post modernism; compare and contrast the possibilities for designing and managing these perspectives within an organization. Define the assumptions of ontology and epistemology and the effects from using the three theoretical perspectives within the organizational structure to enhance the quality of management style. Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) provides an overview of the conception of the three theoretical perspectives: modernism, symbolic- interpretive, and post modernism perspectives.
The inception of these terms occurred during the time of the Great Transformation, scholars tried to explain the emerging changes around them. The Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution period contributed to theoretical formations for early theorists like Emile Durkeim (1949), Karl Marx (1954) and Max Weber (1947). They were concerned about the structures that emerged around them, and how people were impacted within organizational structure. Early management practitioners adopted Scientific Management as a way to run organizations.
Forefathers of management: Winslow Taylor (1911) and Henri Fayol (1949) were highly esteemed for their systems and methods that were widely applied across the world. Modernism was birthed (Hatch (with Cunliffe), 2006). As a note, Hatch with the assistance of Cunliffe contributed an enormous amount of time and research into developing the methodology that is now used to explain the three theoretical perspectives, and considered an expert in this field. Cites from their research will be used to support this argument.
Based on research by Hatch and Cunliffe, the theoretical perspectives emphasized efficiency, and effectiveness that would give a voice not only to the criticisms raised against organization theory, but also as a tool of ‘mangerialism’ (Hatch (with Cunliffe), 2006). In modernist organization theories, the organizational environment according to Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006), is conceptualized as entities that lie outside the boundaries of the organizations to provide raw materials, and other resources, products, and services, which influence the outcome of organizations.
Modernists see the world existing independently, whether they interact with it or not. Reality is waiting to be discovered through concepts and theories. The need to analyze these conditions and trends associated with general environment factors links the organization to the environment properties. The modernist perspective focuses on how to increase efficiency, and considered an objective indicators of performance through the application of theories relating to structure and control according to Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006).
Modernist perspective focus primarily on individuals; treats risk preferences as an attempt to quantify risk without a negative impact in the decision making process. By this view, risks are a social and multilevel phenomenon; risk preferences, perceptions, and responses are learned; risk can be perceived subjectively and often unquantifiable. The environment is a complex, socially constructed system; ethical considerations are integral to risk assessment and management; and organizations respond to risk through their actions, not just by making decisions.
These themes motivate new directions for opportunities within the organization (Esade & McKelvey, 2010). According to Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006), the prospective of Symbolic-interpretive extends the definition of empirical reality to include experiences that lie outside the reach of the five senses, to include emotions and intuition. As a result, this concept is subject to subjectivity, and cannot be easily replicated by others. The symbolic-interpretive perspective focus on meaning and understandings, resulting in findings that are presented in generalized fashion.
In contrast, modernist perspectives focus on the organization as an independent objective entity and take a positive approach to generating knowledge. The symbolic-interpretive perspective focuses on the organization as a community sustained by human relationships and uses predominantly subjective ontology and an interpretive epistemology. In general, the symbolic perspective expands the boundaries of consideration for modernists (e. g. waste is not considered waste, if it is resold), while the postmodernist perspective forces on the modernist to consider injustices within this framework (e. . Corporate Social Responsibility). Also, the symbolic interpretive perspective can reveal the fragile state of an organization; and if it is depending on its employees to survive. It can be said quite literally, that employees can make or break a company according to Drago (1999). According to Esade and McKelvey (2010) Postmodernism, a movement that emerged in the late 1960s to challenge the basic tends of modernism and its epistemological assumption. Esade and McKelvey (2010) suggest that OT has been pulled in opposite directions by modernist and postmodernist ontologisms.
Organizational scholars, are caught between the two conflicting bases of legitimacy with little overall consensus on what constitutes valid truth claims. Hardy and Palmer (1999) indicate that postmodern approaches are relatively new to management and OT brings a number of challenges for management. Postmodernism is presented with a degree of debate, disagreement, and emotion rarely found in the usually more phlegmatic world of organization and lack the traditional characteristics of organizations.
The complexity and the dynamics of organization structure plays an important role in the understanding how businesses operate in today’s culture. Organizational social structure is considered the relatively stable pattern of social behavior within organizations that constrain and enable individual action, (Hatch (with Cunliffe), 2006). Considering Hatch’s (with Cunliffe) (2006), definition of organizations states that there are several meanings. Organizations can be social, technology, cultural, and physical structures that are all a part of the organizational environment.
These perspectives contribute to control, conflict, decision-making, power, politics, and change; and are also concepts used to define the science of (OT). Organizations operate in complex, uncertain, and often contradictory situations. According to Tsoukas and Knudsen (2005), concepts from OT have been discussed for the past 150 years, post industrial revolution and new concepts have a direct and indirect impact on the environment in how organizations operate today.
People in organizations are self-directing and self-designing. As they form cliques and speak the same lingo to share information and solve problems; organizations can also be viewed as a community of practices (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006), contends that due to the complexity and pluralism of organizations, managers who make sense of and use multiple perspectives are more equipped to use their knowledge of OT to analyze, make decisions and plans for their organization’s daily activities.
Cui, Tamma, and Bellifemine (1999) confirms in a competitive business market, large organizations have developed ontology management practices in order respond quickly to market opportunities. Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) suggest that each perspective: modernism, symbolic-interpretive and postmodernism makes distinctive contributions to OT. Integrating these perspectives into organizational structures and the effects of ontology and epistemology assumptions are equally important.
Developing an understanding of OT, and how to theorize, and understand how these different perspectives will influence and shape the realities that exist within an organization. Sutkowski (2010) contends that the paradigm of management epistemology is based on functional and interpretative assumptions. Many ideas regarding corporate culture, management human resources management, and management processes or managing changes are based on epistemological assumptions of the symbolic interpretative approach.
The symbolic-interpretative perspective is a competitive cognitive approach related to a functional-systemic concept that can be described as interpretative, symbolic or qualitative. Symbolic-interpretative perspective is a competitive cognitive approach in relation to the functional-systemic concept described as interpretative, symbolic, or qualitative. According to Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) the basis of interpretative epistemology is assumption of constructional and convention social reality of an organization.
Drago (1999) indicates that organizational stakeholders, individuals, and groups have the ability to influence decision-making in an organization. Stakeholders play an important role in determining the direction, goals and strategies that organization adopts. Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) suggest that it is important to understand the differences in the application of each perspective and grasp knowledge of the concepts and theories that provide distinctive thinking tools needed to analyze various situations, and decisions that are made within a business environment.
Burns, Cooper and West (2003) suggest that organizational learning is the new paradigm for managing organizations. This interest in and promotion of organizational learning, especially in the business world, stemmed from two major concerns: the rapid changing nature of the world in which we live in; and the increasingly competitive environment in which firms operate. Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006) contends that the best theories are those that as employees and stakeholders have found or invented to match their personal experiences that exist in the business world.
The challenge is to learn the theories of organizations and organizing what others have developed to evaluate the skills needed to broaden an appreciation for the possibilities that exist within the organization. The modernist perspective focuses on the independent objectivity of an organization and takes a positive approach to generating knowledge, increase efficiency, effectiveness as it relates to structure and control. Esade and McKelvey (2010) interpretation of integrating modernist and postmodernist perspectives in an organization contends that modernist aim for reliable in knowledge.
In doing so, modernist often impose oversimplified interpretations of data that may obscure the effects of power and bias. In summary, modernism advances knowledge when phenomena are independent of each other or can be made so to control the experience. Both modernists and postmodernists aim for reliable knowledge while holding competing ontologies, they usually result in opposite ends. Esade and McKelvey (2010) conclude that as organizational scholars, opinions are often conflicting based on legitimacy, with little overall consensus on what constitutes valid truth.
In comparing and contrasting the three theoretical perspectives Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006), opinion for instance indicates that modernists consider objectivity and scientific finding as most crucial and that subjectivity undermines scientific rigor, whereas, symbolic-interpretive consider context and subjectivity as most important are factual. Post modernists usually are open to philosophies, which rarely support one particular view. Modernists typically believe that subjectivity understands bias, and bias is precisely what science seeks to eradicate in pursuit of the rational ideals of modernism.
The need to understand the differences in application of each perspective is needed to evaluate the results and outcome of methods used in the organization. Tsoukas and Knudsen (2005) suggest that modernist perspective implies the importance of generalization of concepts and categories as they relate to the particulars of experiences that occur within organizations. As a consequence, visible end-states and outcomes are elevated over processes of change. According only the basic epistemological assumptions that provide inspiration, precision, and accuracy as these concepts represent and explain the social phenomena of organizations.
Integrating modernist and postmodernist perspective approaches are used to evaluate the management style, and culture, as organizations define specific concepts that set them apart from other organizations in their industry, Cui, Tamma, and Bellifemine (1999), states that ontology has been studied by many projects both in academia and industry. Most of these projects provide some level of ontology development support. The need to understand the differences in application of each perspective is needed to evaluate the results and outcome of methods used in the organization.
To analyze the methodological differences between the two theoretical approaches, epistemological, and ontological, Jenz (2003) suggest defines core business process management ontology is applicable in industries and organizations around the globe. Jenz (2003) defines basic concepts that can be found and needed in every organization regardless of industry, such as resource, organization, resource, organization unit, role, business process, and business rule are components of all organizations.
While Cui, Tamma and Bellifemine 1999) contend that ontologies are considered as a vehicle to make the meanings of terms explicit so that information can be shared with minimal misunderstanding. Identifying the effects of the three perspective and the assumptions within the management of an organization can enhance the overall quality of an organization. Barker and Mone (1998) contend that failure to identify these changes within an organization will result in less than favorable results.
Barker and Mone (1998) suggest as changes occur within organizations during turnaround phase will result in different outcomes. As an organization changes from management perspective to another, and how that change is managed within the organization will affect organization is different ways. Based on Barker and Mone (1998) research declining organization often experience mechanistic structural changes that centralize authority, increase reliance on formalized procedures, and reduce the flow of information from top management down to employees.
As these changes occur, the need to change from one theoretical perspective to another can be a challenge. When these changes are ignored, the end result reduces the organizations capability to make innovative organizational decisions that could result in demise to the organization. Barker and Mone (1998) contend that when changes occur with the corporate structure such as acquisition, and or acquiring other entities from other organization, harvesting or liquidating internal controls, changing priorities, and traditional, all require evaluating the perspective of the organization.
Barker and Mone (1998) conclude that during change the symbolic interpretive perspective reveals just how fragile an organization can become; and dependent on its employees for survival. Employees can make or break a company. Hatch (with Cunliffe) (2006), presents two types of management systems introduced by Burns and Stalker; mechanistic and organic. These management systems are used to define the stability or instability of an environment. According to Burns and Stalker, during stable environments, mechanistic organizations outperform organic organizations, while unstable environments organic organizations tend to be more successful.
Due to the complexity of some organization in terms of horizontal and vertical management structure, the greater the need to communication effectively, especially during phases of integration according to Hatch (with Cunliffe), (2006). In summary, the study of OT is one of the most useful sciences that involve theories that encompass the study of organization from multiple viewpoints, methods, and level of analysis. The interpretations of theoretical perspectives are not cast in stone, they are ways to think, and stimulate different thoughts (Hatch (with Cunliffe), 2006).
Each perspective has a different approach concerning the structure, culture or even the technology, which applied to the social structure of an organization. If left unchecked, the results may be detrimental to the stakeholders, managers, and employees. Managers can approach problems within an organization to assist them in creating more possibilities for designing and managing their organizations, to include a better understanding of organizational social structures that lead to effective decision making capabilities.
This research has been presented as an attempt to define and explain how multiple perspective approaches (modernist, symbolic interpretive, post-modernist) assist in achieving a more comprehensive understanding of complex organizational phenomena. References Barker, V. L. , & Mone, M. A. (1998). The Mechanistic structure shift and strategic reorientation in declining firms attempting turnover. Human Relations. Vol. 51. No. 10. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from the AB/Inform Global Database. Burns, B. , Cooper, C. & West, P. (2003). Organizational learning: the new management paradigm? Management Decision. Vol. 41. Pg. 452. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from the AB/Inform Global Database. Cui, Z. , Tamma, A. M. , & Bellifemine, F. (Oct. 1999). Ontology management in enterprises. BT Technology Journal. Vol. 17, No. 4. Pages 98-107. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from the AB/Inform Global (ProQuest) Database. Drago, W. A. , (1999). Stakeholder Influence and Environmental Sector Volatility. Management Research Review. Vol. 22.
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