Theory on organization

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There are a collection of guidelines in every field of research and study-theories in which such study methods and activities are focused on the establishment of a connection between the concepts involved in the specific practice or study. Hatch, (2011) describes an association as an entity created as various individuals work together to achieve a goal. Organizational theory can then be interpreted from the two concepts as a field of study that examines the theories within the organization, analyzes them in order to construct a set of statements that are interrelated and rational, and explains the various facets of the organization (“a brief overview of organizational theory,” n.d.). It is often not easy to describe phenomena and characteristics within organizations, but by looking at organizations from broad perspectives, and drawing its ideas, the study to a great extent define and explain the phenomena and characteristics of organizations(“brief overview of organisational theory,” n.d.).

Organisation theory is a complex topic that is not easily understood, but over the years scholars have come up with useful approaches to make the field more understandable and approachable (Litzinger & Scott, n.d.). Hatch (2013) introduced the perspectives of organization theory which include Modernist, Symbolic-interpretation and Postmodern and according to him each of the aspects has its views and unique approach when it comes to definition and management. He also explains that the perspectives can also be divided into sections to allow a broad study of organization theory (Hatch, 2011). For instance, according to Hatch (2013), postmodern theorists mainly focus on theorizing practices and also are against established authority in an organization while modernists relay on statistical methods and believe in objective measures and symbolic-interpretive theorists depend on subjective standards and believe in experiences outside a person’s five senses(Clegg et al., 2016).

The following paper defines and describes the three organizational theory paradigms broadly in their economic, social and political contexts, comparing and contrasting them to understand if they are competing or complementary.

Body

As mentioned earlier, the organization theory perspectives can be divided in a way to ease its study and understanding and one way to do so is by defining organizations as part of an economic, technological, political and social structure (Hatch, 2013). Another is by studying organizations concerning the central issues and themes that define them such as decision making and change as seen below.

Modernist theory

Modernist theory believes in objective measures and focuses on the reality of knowledge, based on concepts and different principles. Modernists recognise data captured from a person’s five senses (Touch, smell, sight, smell, and hearing) and they use the data to create a set of rules for use by the organisation to make sure that their operations run smoothly and the employees get to work efficiently to achieve the company’s goals and objectives(Hatch, 2011). Hatch and Cunliffe, (2013), argue that modernists don’t consider any other perspectives outside the five senses or these that are based on emotions and intuitions (McAuley et al., 2007). The theory supports the rationalization of organizational practices and extensively focuses on results rather than the social exercises to determine the efficiency of an organization (Miles, 2012).

In addition to results, modernist as also determine progress, both theoretically and practically and they believe that accompanies development is depended on the objective aspects employed by the people in the organization (Miles, 2012). For example, the theory is the idea that the behavior of the participants in an organization is significantly affected by their attitudes and values as well as those around them. Therefore modernists argue that the organization culture, workforce, and processes can be changes if people in the organization change their beliefs and attitudes positively to benefit themselves, those around them and hence the organization (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013). According to modernists a positive organizational performance and corporate culture are two aspects that are directly related and as such the performance of an organization is depended on the corporate culture in place (McAuley et al., 2007).

Symbolic Interpretive Perspective

Symbolic interpretive theory looks into the perspectives outside the reach of the five senses such as instincts (McAuley, et al., 2007). The approach cannot be replicated by others as seen in modernist approach, and it understands the aspect of individuality with the researchers committed to individualizing personal experiences in an organization while at the same time accommodating input from the other people in the organization. Symbolic interpretive perspective avoids generalizing findings and try to create meaning from the results. Hatch & Cunliffe, (2013) explain that symbolic interpretive theorists are for the idea that workers in an organization will only understand themselves if they familiarise the organization’s culture and find the meaning behind it. Unlike in modernism, a reality in symbolic interpretive theory is defined as what one experienced after they experience feelings and emotions towards a particular happening (Hatch, 2011). Therefore when the people face reality because of feelings and emotions towards something they experience in the workplace, they find it easy to relate with each other and also effectively engage with other inverse cultures found an organization’s external environment (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013).

Symbolic interpretive theorists do not just define organization structure based in how they are located, coordinates and supervised but rather as the work that is meaningful to them and which allows for the achievement of the organization’s aims and objectives (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013). In symbolic interpretive theory, organization structures, if ineffective can be reconstructed by changing how people observe and participate in the organization. Symbolic interpretive try to understand how work is produced and hay it is produced in a certain manner and if the method of production is effective in bringing up important aspects critical to the functioning of the organisation (Hatch, 2011). Unlike in modernist theory, the symbolic interpretive approach does not focus on directly measuring results through testing and experiments (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013).

Symbolic interpretive theorists unlike modernists, define organizations as a development similar to a community, whose theories are flexible and more productive (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013). The approach also understands that each member of an organization socially contribute essential symbols to the organization and such symbols may affect both the individual and group behavior which then affect the performance of tasks in the organization(Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013). Therefore, symbolic interpretive theorists argue that organizational functions run smoothly and benefit the organization only if suggestive behaviors are developed by the different people in the organization (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2013).

Postmodern Perspective

The postmodern theory takes a unique approach from the other two methods as it refuses to take a philosophical stand as the other two theories. Hatch (2013) explains that post-modern theorists focus more on professionalism justifying their refusal of taking a stand by arguing that taking a philosophical position means that they would be holding some forms of knowledge in high regards than others, a move that is against post-modern ethics (Lock,2003). Postmodern theorists don’t evoke skepticism to bolster understanding as experienced in modernist theory but instead criticizes assumptions in the organization that is not challenged and thus does recognize objectivity and certainty in rationality and intelligence. Postmodernism, like symbolic interpretive associate its studies with the definition and discussion of disciplines related to organizational culture including much as linguistics, and anthropology (Lock, 2003).

Comparison of the three paradigms

Social cultures

One way that the three perspectives can be compared and contrasted is by looking at how they individually define social and physical structures of organizations as well as the organization’s culture (Clegg et al., 2016). In an organization, the interaction and the relationships among individuals in all the department’s social structures while the physical structure defines the geographical layout of the organization. According to Hatch and Cunliffe, (2013), Social structures mainly focus on the systematic study of bureaucracy which involves the hierarchy of authorities in an organization, the division of labor and the rules and regulations that govern an organization. (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2013).

In respect to social structures, modernist argue that there exist two distinctive forms of organization structures, i.e., flat and tall organization structures. Modernists explain that there is division of labor and relatively more vertical hierarchy level in flat structures than the tall structures and there also exist fewer departments in tall structures compared to flat organization structure. The tall organization structures have more divisions than the flat structures but as explained before relatively less hierarchical level exist in the flat structures. Because of the division of labor, the presence of departments and hierarchical levels social structures have a strong correlation between a person’s performance behavior and their role in the organization. Therefore modernists focus on the rules and regulations that ensure that a person’s conduct, performance, and function correlate well with the objectives of the organization (Clegg et al., 2016).

Unlike Modernists, symbolic-interpretive theory understand organization structure as units where people through observation and participation can develop elements that contribute to work that they consider meaningful to them. The believers of symbolic interpretive focus more on how to organize the structures rather that than having components such as level, hierarchy or departments defining the structures (Clegg et al., 2016). A symbolic interpretive theorist mainly tries to understand the reasons behind the production of work, the methods of production and the routines, by understanding the relationship between the level of production and human interactions in accomplishing goals.

Post-modernism theory is for the idea that there exist no boundaries in organizations and as such don’t identify with the idea that organizations have structures therefore not identifying with de-differentiation, de-centralization, and de-constructing approaches in an organization. Post-modernism allows people to use the available resources and technology in the organization to set up their ideological methods that help them efficiently achieve their goals. Postmodernism argues that in an organization, the people have their mindset on what their objectives are and therefore don’t need any form of a standard structure to follow (Hatch, 2011). Unlike modernists, the post-modernists focus more on finding ways to solve a problem by studying the possible implications instead of finish the reason what the issues occurs in the first place.

Physical structures

In respect to physical structures of organizations, modernists determine the productivity of a company by determining its layout, sound, and lighting from the surrounding environment. Modernists believe that the standard processes of an organization can change if certain different aspects change (Hatch, 2011). For example, they may argue that communication increases when workers get divided into broad groups, put in the same hierarchy level and the same buildings. Symbolic-interpretive theorists, on the other hand, believe that the meaning and space of an organization get defined by the building. For example, they may argue that an organization’s building structure can be used to describe its value. On the other hand, post, modernism theorists distinguish physical structures by having legit power over there in the organisation (Hatch, 2011). For instance, postmodernists may argue that the office of the organizations is at the top of the building structure as the director has the authority to direct and control the running of the company.

Organisation Culture

Modernist believe that organization culture influences the organization’s performance either negatively or positively and therefore, an ideal organization culture is one which all the members of the organization share the same goals and work towards them (Grey, 2008). Modernists also explain that an organizations internal and external environments can either help it grow or fail and thus, organizations should base themselves in settings that would allow them to adapt to new transformation and not those that will limit their adaptation to change(In Miles, 2014). Those for symbolic-interpretive theory recognize organization culture only when they find it reasonable, and they accept the idea only after they interpret and validate and find meaning in it (Hatch, 2011).

Conclusion

In sum, it is no doubt that organization theory is a complex topic that involves deep and ambiguous processes that exist through different and unique perspectives that need clear studies and understanding. Modernism, postmodernism, and symbolic interpretative theories have over the years proved useful in allowing one understand the concept of organization theory and culture and are also crucial in the management, improvement, and transformation of organizations. However, though they all prove helpful in their capacity, it is critical to understand that the three approaches differ in their exploration of factors and none of them more excellent or valuable than the other. Also the use of the different perspective by particular organizations entirely depends on the situation of the organization and the surrounding environment.

References

A brief overview of organisational theory. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nationalcollege.org.uk/transfer/open/adsbm-phase-4-module-3-transforming-organisations/adsbm-p4m3s2/adsbm-p4m3s2t2.html

Clegg, S. R., Kornberger, M., & Pitsis, T. (2015). Managing and organizations: An introduction to theory and practice. Sage.*

Grey, C. (2008). A very short fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about studying organizations. Los Angeles: Sage.*

Hatch, M.J. and Cunliffe, A.L., 2013. Organization theory: modern, symbolic and postmodern perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hatch, M. J. (2011). Organizations: a very short introduction (Vol. 264). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

In Miles, J. A. (2014). New directions in management and organization theory. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Litzinger, W. D., & Scott, W. G. (n.d.). Organization Theory: A Behavioral Analysis for Management. Administrative Science Quarterly, 12(3), 516. doi:10.2307/2391321

Lock, E (2003) Postmodernism and Management. London: Emerald

McAuley, J., Duberley, J., & Johnson, P. (2007). Organization theory: Challenges and perspectives. London: Pearson Education.

Miles, J. A. (2012). Management and organization theory: A Jossey-Bass reader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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