ORGANIZATIONS AS ORGANISMS 14.2 2012

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Feb 23, 2014 (3 years and 3 months ago)

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NATURE INTERVENES:

ORGANIZATIONS AS ORGANISMS 14.2 2012

Agenda:



Organizations as organisms


lecture,



Exercise on a system approach, Peter Senge as an example



Break



Organizations as brains


Exercise following the same format as last time











THE METAPHOR OF ORGANISM

Biological thought has influenced social and organization

theory since the 19
th

century often known as structural

functionalism.

Living systems, surviving in an environment (adaption);

Different ‘species’ depending on the environment;

Focus on processes (life cycles) and evolution;

Organization
-

environment relations and effectiveness

become the focus rather than goals, structures, and efficiency;

dead mechanisms opposed to the idea of life and survival









ORGANIZATIONS AS ORGANISMS

Several theories explore, a
ccording
to Morgan,
this metaphor
:


Organizational needs


Open systems
t
heory


Contingency
theory


The variety of the species


The population
-
ecology


Organizational ecology
:
The creation
of
shared futures


Most of them are versions of a systems view; it develops into
the idea of complexity further explored brain & chaos
metaphors


ORGANIZATIONAL NEEDS

The Hawthorne Studies;

Mayo and his research team

discover the limits in studying

work mechanically (the im
-

pact of more or less light i.e.)

‘Discovered’ informal groups

at the work place, i.e. the

social dynamics at the the

workplace. (Management is

not an object of study
-

yet)



HUMANS AS A RESOURCE TO BE MANAGED


The idea of human
growth, motivation &
development in work
and a hierarchy of needs



Socio
-
technical systems
design: Overcoming
mechanical ideas by
paying attention to the
human subsystem

SOCIO
-
TECHNICAL SYSTEMS

In the 1940s Eric Trist &

others developed coal

mining by focusing on

a social subsystem as part of

the “long
-
wall method”
-

alternative to Taylorism

The Tavistock Institute;

influenced work

organization (unions)

in Scandinavia in 1960s

OPEN SYSTEMS/GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY

The biologist Bertalanffy: An open

system interacts continuously with its

environment, be it in the form of

energy, material, information

transfers (addressing customers,

competitors, suppliers, labour unions,

government agencies etc.) in and out

of the system. Focus on how tasks

function, and key business processes.

The trick
-

challenge
-

is to define a

boundary & interrelated subsystems

OPEN SYSTEMS THEORY

Introduces concepts such as


Homeostatis,


Entropy/negative entropy,


Structure, function,
differentiation & integration


Requisite variety


Equifinality


System evolution

Ice melting in a warm room is a common
example of increasing entropy, described in
1862 by Rudolf Clausius as an increase in
the disgregation of the water molecules in
ice.

THE ORGANIZATION AS A SYSTEM

Anything can
in principle be
described as a
system:

An individual,
cognition,
family, society,
etc.

THE WORK SYSTEM LIFE CYCLE MODEL

http://www.fsc.yorku
.ca/york/is
theory/wiki/index.ph
p/Work_systems_th
eory

EXAMPLES OF OPEN SYSTEMS

VARIETY OF SPECIES: THE MECHANISTIC
-

ORGANIC CONTINUUM

Henry Mintzberg: Develop a cohesive set of relations between
structural design, the age, size and technology as well as the
conditions in the environment of the organization
. Five
configurations of the species
: Machine bureaucracy, the
divisionalized form, the professional bureaucracy, the simple
structure, the adhocracy.

Market/production driven; R&D, virtual teams, innovation

Matrix organization: Combines a functional structure with a
project
-

team structure (p. 52) specialization & coordination,

HENRY MINTZBERG ( B.1939)


Very influential figure.


“The structure of an organization

can be defined simply as the sum

total of the ways in which its labor

is divided into distinct tasks and

then its coordination is achieved

among these tasks” p. 2


Mintzberg’s organizational forms

1.
The machine
b
ureaucracy


2.
The divisional form


3.
The professional bureaucracy


4.
The simple
structure


5.
Adhocracy


Various ways of dividing and

coordinating work with a

focus on tasks and

environment.

Ad 3: Complicated and rel.

stable tasks: Autonomy

Ad 4 & 5: Unstable

environments, flexible,

teambased, often centralised

MATRIX ORGANIZATION

On the one hand it allows

for specialization and

coordination.

On the other hand it

violates the classical idea

of line of command

everybody having
one

boss.

The tensions it can produce

are well known in IT projects.

CONTINGENCY THEORY

No best way of organizing (p. 44)

Environment
: Burns &Stalker (1950) Mechanistic or organic
approach depend on the requirements of the environment

Technology
: Joan Woodwards (1960) Mass production and
taylorism go hand in hand, process systems of production
needs a more flexible approach

Market and uncertainty
: Lawrence and Lorch (Harvard) market
and technological conditions decide; uncertain environments
need a higher degree of internal differentiation

Look at page 44

ORGANIZATIONAL HEALTH & DEVELOPMENT

The field of Organizational Development consultancy (OD):

Diagnostic and prescriptive models on how to achieve a good fit

with the environment:


What is the nature of the environment
(stable


turbulent)?


What kind of strategy is being employed
(defensive
operational


proactive, creation of learning system)?


What kind of technology
( mechanical


non
-
mechanical)?


What kind of people are employed
, what is the ethos/culture
(economic
-
instrumental


self actualizing)?


How is it structured, what are the dominant managerial
philosophy

(authoritarian


’democratic’)


NATURAL SELECTION


ORGANIZATIONAL
ECOLOGY

The population
-

Ecology view:
The environment selects the
organization, not the other way around: The ability to obtain
a resource niche and outperform one’s competitors;
awareness of scarce of resources and competition, the role
of successful innovations in shaping new species

Organizational Ecology:
The creation of shared futures;
evolution of a pattern of relations embracing organisms and
their environments: the survival of the fitting; collaboration
is as important as competition. Action research, shared
appreciation of concerns and problems (inspired by Eric Trist)

STRENGTHS


A
process
perspective stressing interaction with the
environment, not a collection of parts


Systematic attention to ‘needs
’ in order to survive: Internal
balance and in relation to the environment


There is a range of options; the quality of
choice is important


Innovation requires flexible
, dynamic oriented forms


Ecology
: New forms of inter
-

organizational relations are
necessary to deal with the complex environments that
organizations face today



LIMITATIONS


Too concrete ( or rather too abstract? We are dealing with
theories about biological creatures, not nature itself)


Organizations are partly socially constructed phenomena,
cannot be studied as if we study nature


Functional unity is a basic assumption: But are
organizations always as harmonious as that?


Naturalizes a social phenomenon

in danger of becoming a
normative idea


EXERCISE: EXPLORING SYSTEMS THINKING

We will take a look at Peter Senge at the net:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFCrv7
-
XlI&feature=related

Society for organizational learning:

http://www.solonline.org/news/item?item_id=9002904


Impact of Globalization 5 minutesOrganizational Culture and Learning
5 minutes

T
ransformational Change 3 minutes



What does the system perspective allow him to see?

LEARNING AND SELF
-
ORGANIZATION
-

THE
ORGANIZATION AS BRAINS

The brain, an organic entity, is regarded as an information

processing system, inspired, among other things, by computer

developments. Paradoxes must be acknowledged: How can

logical reduction and creative expansiveness be elements of the

same process?

Three theories:


Organizations as Information Processing Brains


Organizations as Complex Learning Systems


Organizations as Holographic Systems


INFORMATION PROCESSING SYSTEMS

Herbert Simon and James March: Computers automate

complex information flows, internet etc. helps to make

organization into data flows, decisions, policies etc.

Simon invented the terms ‘bounded’ rationality (Nobel Prize in

Economics 1978), ‘good enough’ decisions, design as decision

making, ‘satisficing’.

Those were largely misunderstood and enforced rational

thinking in fields such as Operation Research (OR)


Management Decision Systems (MDS)


Management Information Systems (MIS)

Focus on decision making tools, thinking
as problem solving



HERBERT SIMON ON DECISION MAKING

The human being striving for

rationality and restricted within

the limits of his knowledge has

developed some working

procedures that partially

overcome these difficulties.

These procedures consist in

assuming that he can isolate

from the rest of the world a

closed system containing a

limited number of variables and

a limited range of consequences.

[


EXERCISE ON CLASS

Regarding decision

making and rationality:

Recall how you decided to

study at the university:

How would you describe the

form of decision process you

went through?

Does it resemble any of the

models here?


AI and INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

The development of IT gives rise to controversies regarding

organizing, and the idea of rationality in AI/cognitive science:

How organizations
manage, confront and flow with

uncertainty

becomes important:

March: ‘Garbage can’ metaphor for problem solving (solutions

looking for problems, rational explanations applied after the

decision is made. Networked intelligence, organizations rest in

information systems, virtual & global connections.

Lucy Suchman’s critique of AI in ‘Plans and situated Action’.

(http://www.ai.mit.edu/projects/humanoid
-
robotics
-
group/kismet/kismet.html)

AI VERSUS CYBERNETICS

AI and cybernetics rest on

different epistemologies.

Norbert Wiener (1894

-
1964) invented the term

from Greek, Kubernetes,

steersman. Development

of devices for control of

gunfire: How to hit a

moving target? Control,

command,communication.

Systems emerge.


http://www.pangaro.com/published/cy
ber

macmillan.html

COMPLEX LEARNING SYSTEMS

A theory of communication

cybernetics:

1.
Systems must have the capacity
to sense and scan their
environment

2.
Relate this information to the
operating norms

3.
Detect significant deviations

4.
Initiate corrective actions


(Morgan’s version p.87)


CONTROL VIA FEEDBACK

PROJECT
CYBERSYN
, ALLENDE, CHILE 1972

An attempt to a real time

computer controlled

planned economy 1970

-
1973. The principal

architect was British

operation research

scientist Stafford Beer.

SINGLE
-

AND DOUBLE LOOP LEARNING

Chris Argyris (Harvard) and

Donald Schøn (MIT): Business as

usual in a bureaucracy can be a

barriere for creative thinking.

‘Defensive routines’; Challenger

and other disasters, ‘group think’;

Efficiency versus effectiveness.

Argyris concentrates on individual

conversations, Schøn on learning in

practice and organizational

learning.

From a pragmatic point of view
there are more than two ways of
learning.

SINGLE AND DOUBLE LOOP LEARNING

organizational learning


Peter senge

TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT

The idea is to challenge

key business paradigms

and taken for granted

norms.

The Japanese concept

Kaizen.

Embracing uncentainty


accounting for change.

Ideal or standard for best

practice?

s

HOLOGRAPHIC SYSTEMS

Principles:

1.
Build the “Whole” Into All the “Parts”: Corporate DNA

2.
The Importance of “Redundancy”

3.
Requisite Variety

4.
Minimum Specs

5.
Learning to Learn


Please take a look at the figure at page 100


STRENGTHS AND LIMITATIONS


Critical of dominant rational ideas


How can we develop IT in new ways without enforcing


bureaucracy?


The cybernetic paradox of avoiding certain things instead
of achieving specific goals; work as well ad design are
emergent phenomena


BUT no sense of conflict and critique of the idea of learning




PREPARATION FOR THE ASSIGNMENT


Form groups of three persons:

The first part (15 minutes):

Each of you describes an organization you have worked in
in the following way: describe in your own words what
you were doing; in addition describe shortly what kind
of organization it was, how long you worked there. and
how long go it is.

Based on the first part choose one of the examples as the
case you are going to work with in the second part




PREPARTION FOR ASSIGNMENT

The second part (30 minutes):

Distribute the following roles:

1.
The ‘case’ person tells about the organization by answering
questions from the other two

2.
One person introduces the various concepts in the organism
and brain metaphor you want to apply

3.
The third person makes sure that you apply them on the
case

All of you discuss which of the concepts you find most relevant
and why





THIRD PART

Plenum


10 minutes



“There is nothing so practical as a good theory” (Kurt Lewin,

p.365)