Whichcompetes with one another. From this we also understand that all perspectivesare spread among different organizations and have had great influence in thegovernment, schools and businesses. Over time, organizations have changed theirstructure by acknowledging for example the move toward more concern for theworkers. However some organizations remain resistant to change. To fullyunderstand the purpose of organizational theory, we have to be able todeconstruct each perspective, which leads us to find competing andcomplementary views between the paradigms. Thesethree paradigms contribute a lot to our understanding of organizational theorytoday. Each perspective helps us acknowledge the purpose of organizationaltheory The ultimate aim or purposeof the existence of organizations is tosurvive through profit making.
This purpose of an organization can be complementary among all three perspectives to alarge extent because, privatization hasled to institutions such as hospitals and schools to become businesses strivingfor efficiency. However the structure of organizationsis competing between the three paradigms to a very large extent as moderniststrive for an autocratic leader who will ensuremaximum output is gained by having the ultimate power (Christopher Grey).Symbolic interpretive is in favor of a leader whose goal is to persuade workersinto the vision of the organization and postmodernist argues that workers areled into believing that are important within the organization through the”meta-narrative” (Lyotard 1966). In reality, they are only helping thepowerful figures in the organization to gain more authority.
Moreover, theseparadigms are complementary in the influence they bestow in organizationaltheory. These perspectives have been implemented in organizations such asWeber’s notion of bureaucracy in many organizations including schools, the risein social corporate responsibility reflects the importance of workers withinorganizations like Facebook (Jacob Morgan 2017). While modernism focuses immensely on reasoning, order and progress to unveil the nature of the social universe.Postmodernism in contrast argues the ”social universe is inherentlyparadoxical and indeterminate” (Hancock and Taylor) and as a criticalperspective, postmodernist researchers also reject the ”Grand Narrative”(Lyotard p402), as these ideas are in favorof the minority by misleading us into believing and acting in a certain way.
InLyotard’s perspective the Grand Narrative is further enforced for example byschools and the government sharing a close link.Since everyone is a part of an institutionit becomes inevitable that they are misled. By deconstructing many aspects ofsociety, for example gender differences, the analysis demonstrates that thesefactors are socially constructed. As such, in organizationspower or status is ascribed which workers are misled into believing that theyhave a voice to veil the existence of oppression in organizations (Mary Jo Hatch, Ann L. Cunliffe). These perspectivesare complementary to Weber’s notion ofbureaucracy through acknowledging that workers get their position in anoccupation based on ability and not throughnepotism and bloodline.
The term Post-modernism if often referred toas ”the period or epochal view” (McAuley et al.) which seems to haveoriginated in the late nineteenth century. The researchers of this perspectivebelieve that modernism and symbolic interpretivism doesn’t confront the newtime ”which the process of production, distribution, exchange and consumptionhave not only dramatically accelerated but have also become increasinglydiverse, specialized and temporary”(McAuley et al.).
These changes thus require new forms of organization and management to better suit thenew period. Postmodernism, has competing assumptions about organizations whichconflict the ideas of modernism and symbolic interpretivism.One of the greatest contradictions is that Hancock and Tyler for example believe we cannot assume that there exists athing such as refined cause when reasoning can progress over time. Further,they also emphasize that there is no such thing as one single way of truth as our knowledge is dependent on thecontext we operate and the availability of information to us. One factorrelating to knowledge is a language whichthrough the ontological findings believe that any forms of expression disclosesome form of truth without having to be referred to any other factor.
As suchin the epistemological perspective, ”truth is an empty concept” since therecannot be any truth, anything else becomes an interpretation which is not basedon facts (Mary Jo Hatch, Cunliffe). The contribution of HenryFayol 1841-1925 is also widely recognizedwhen discussing symbolic interpretivism. Fayol acquainteda simple model to demonstrate how management should communicate with theworkforce. His model includes 14 principles of management but overall there werefive fundamental approaches to effectively carry out production. The firststage is planning, which states that each stage of the production process mustbe planned followed by the other four stages which are organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling (JanetKrenn 2017). From this its evident that for modernist and symbolic interpretive the role of managers and leadersis vital to achieving efficiency.However, through Weber’s bureaucracy and changes in appointing leaders frominheritance and bloodline to new wave management and leadership it led to greatchanges.
John Kotter on the other hand believes that the role of managers andleaders are different. Where managers keep an organizationfunctioning, the role of a leader is toalign people with the vision, throughmotivation, inspiration and communication (Rebecca Ratcliffe 2013). The threemain forms of leadership which arecommonly found is Transactional, Charismatic and Transformational. The purposeof organizational theory for symbolic interpretiveis to transform organizations into a place that is not socially constructed buta product of human emotions where the culture and management are key to achieve goals. This is done by puttinghuman first. This perspective has beenvery significant in the success of entrepreneurs with different leadershipstyles. An influential example is Richard Branson who also an emphasis on the importance of having a visionfor the business in order to become a successful leader (Richard Branson 2017). An alternative perspectiveby Symbolic Interpretivist assumes that giving meaning to experience sharpensknowledge which is beyond our five senses.
To truly understand organizations,emotions and feelings of those within the organizationmust first be understood. This suggests that individuals will have a differentexperience based on the circumstance that they face regularly in the work environment. Therefore, the modernistperspective is rejected by symbolic interpretiveresearchers such as Berger and Luckmann 1966, who believe that thetraditional scientific method is based on hard data that is collected in largesamples but contains no insight to emotions (Berger and Luckmann p 69-70). Symbolic interpretivismseeks primary knowledge through involvement in organizational activities (Hatch1993) thus generalization is detected bythese researchers. These ideas could cause conflict as the ideologies andemotions in the organization is not shared which compete with the modernistperspective. Taylors believe that thepurpose of organizational theory is tocreate a systematic order where efficiency was achieved. SymbolicInterpretivist also believe the purpose of organizational theory is to find the best method for achieving efficiencywhile putting humans and emotions into context.
Arguably, Taylor’s perspective creates less conflict bynot considering the emotions of workers and it creates a strict culture andworkers only expect safety and their wages. The extent to which it applies todayis debatable as workers are valued due toprotection from laws and regulations, representation from trade unions as wellbusinesses being more exposed to the media. Around the same time asTaylor, the influential sociologist Max Weber wanted to understand the impactof industrialization on society. Weber was entranced by the changes to theorganizational structure that was broughtalong by industrialization. Thetraditional method for appointing leaders heavily relied on inheritance andbloodline which could be challenged by a charismatic personality. He proposed the idea of bureaucracy to create a socialorder that was more rational (Mary Jo, Hatch, Anna L. Cunliffe). Weber’s ideashave greatly influenced many important organizations including schools and hospitalsthrough procedures like the formal selection,division of labor and changes in the system of hierarchy.
Weber’sapproach was more subjectivist as he recognizedthat efficiency and rationality could bedemotivating for the workers (McAuley et al, 2014). Weber’s ideas like Tayloraimed at efficiency and order, thus the purpose of organization theory from themodernist view is to establish order through the structure of organizations and have a division between managers andworkers. Further, It was from the work the neo-modernist Elton Mayo through hisHawthorne experiment that highlighted the need for a good corporate culture aswell as giving importance to humans for organizations to profit maximise whichto a good extent complemented the symbolic interpretive perspective (RichardStillman 2012).
During the 1800s-1900s, thescientific theory of management was developed by Fredrick Winslow Taylor. Itwas Henry R. Towne, co-founder andpresident of an assembling company, whogave Taylor ”one of his first opportunities to prevail at applying scientificmanagement principles at Yale and Towne in 1904” (Jay M. Shafritz, J.
StevenOtt, Yong Suk Jang). Till date, Taylor is acknowledged as the father ofscientific management. He was born around the enlightenment era, when facts andscience replaced religion and superstition (Sb Jeffrey). Originating from a well-off Philadelphia family didn’t preventTaylor from working in the iron and steelmaking industry, initially as anapprentice during the time when the United States experienced industrialization took after by the AmericanCivil War. While observing the laborers,Taylor noticed that they commonly worked by ”rule of thumb” relatively like asolider. They would slack off and ”behave systematically”(Christopher grey) which was either because they were lazy, or they purposelywanted to restrict output to save their occupation. Since Taylor had littletrust in the workers, he came up with the solution: four principles.
Theworkers were regarded as machines and in many ways Taylor believed this wasprofitable for an organization. Workerswould reach for maximum output, and receive a wagein return which he considered ”personal fairness” (Grey ). The fixed system empoweredproductivity and maximum return for owners with a very centralized structure. This type of structure enables a powerdifference between workers and managers.
Taylors ideas are practiced today which can be seen throughsuccessful multinationals like McDonalds and Amazon. These organizations have applied Taylor’s principlesin many ways. McDonald’s for example has a hard-human resource approach whereworkers are only needed for production. Similarly, Amazon follows a systematicorder which is highly criticised for creating a dehumanizingenvironment (Parker and Vonow 2017).
Forthe modernist, the purpose of organizational theory is to establishrationality, logic and order. His approach was generic with a subjectiveapproach focusing solely on efficiency which has been criticised fordemotivation workers, described by the commonly used term ”McDonaldization”(Ritzer 2007). Organisationsare social structures which are often referred to as if they had their own existence. However, unlike humans they don’t actfreely or function similarly (Cole 1995). There is no absolute truth with regardsto the purpose of organizations asdifferent theories contribute with compelling perspectives on organizationaltheory.
In this essay I shall discuss the three main paradigms, which takes distinctapproaches to understanding the purposeof organizational theory. One of the earliest perspectives which were objective, originated from modernism inthe early 1900’s (Christopher Grey) this was in an era where science wasbeginning to develop. Another perspectiveis offered by symbolic interpretivism,which varies from modernist in many ways.This perspective concentrates on emotions and experience of workers while stillaiming for efficiency. The final perspective which is more contemporary is bypostmodernist that offers a different explanation for organizational theory.
In their view there can be multiple truths basedon individual experience and availability of knowledge, thus they also make noontological dedications. There are competing perspectives to a large extent whenanalyzing the three-different point ofview due to conflicting outlook on the purpose of organizational theory. Despite the many differences in perspective:modernism, symbolic interpretive andpostmodernism have common beliefs as well as shared knowledge.