Transition from bureaucratic to post bureaucratic era

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 May 2016

Transition from bureaucratic to post bureaucratic era

In this essay, I am going to argue that management can use culture as a powerful and effective tool in order to limit or minimise resistance within the organization’s environment. I am going to suggest that the culture provided to employees by managers can significantly impact upon their performance within the organization and therefore reducing the probability of conflicts and subjugation in this post-bureaucratic era. In section one I will demonstrate the difficulties in the transition from a bureaucracy era, which involved hierarchies, rules and division of labour, to post-bureaucracy; which is based on trust, empowerment and personal treatment, by drawing on Josserand, Teo and Clegg’s (2006) writings. In section two I will use Rosen’s (1988) research findings on the effectiveness of rituals, establishment of a culture and the distribution of power of authority in an organization through company events. In section three I will analyse Knights and Roberts (1982)findings on some of the issues in regards to the distribution of power in a organization.

In the fourth/final section of the essay I will investigate Ogbonna and Wilkinson’s (2003) findings discussing and arguing regarding the way managers embed in cultural norms, cultural change initiatives, cultural artefacts and cultural practises in order to conclude that culture can be used as an effective tool by managers to limit resistance I will begin my argument using my first reference, “From Bureaucratic to Post-Bureaucratic: The Difficulties of Transition” by Josserand, Teo and Clegg (2006), exploring the development of culture and power in the move towards a post-bureaucratic organizational structure.

It is based around peer-based teamwork and shared responsibility, and more suited in today’s business environment. Bureaucracy contains high levels of hierarchy and impersonality, resulting in decreased employee morale and job satisfaction, and from a critical perspective is seen as dehumanizing. Post-bureaucracy, from a critical perspective can be known as ‘cleaned up bureaucracy’ which involves the development of culture, allowing management to take advantage of the culture in the organization in order to overcome issues such as resistance, and other difficulties like the need to need to invent new roles, and the differences experienced among employees in perceptions of identity .

According to Josserand, Teo and Clegg, the relevant and fundamental characteristic of the transition to post-bureaucracy is that of organizational hybridity, as it reflects the intrinsic difficulties involved in the transition of an organization. These intrinsic difficulties were seen when analysing the company, Statecorp, as the changes observed were redolent of this hybridity, giving the conclusion that the emergence of the organizational form depends on the complex and intractable process which occur within bureaucracy itself.

In this section, I will support my argument on how culture is effective at maintaining hierarchy and social cohesion within an organization, and that rituals and cultural events held by organizations for their employees can establish a friendly and loving culture, by analysing Michael Rosen’s (1988) journal article, “You Asked for It: Christmas at The Bosses Expense”. In this article, I agree with Rosen’s argument in regards to the Christmas party that it needs to be taken more seriously and not just as a ‘night out’, but a night that “blurs the boundaries between that which is work and play, instrumental and moral, inside and outside”(Rosen 1988). The Christmas party allows staff to transcend the label of workplace whilst also allowing them to ‘connect’ to the organization.

By holding events such as ‘Casual Fridays’ and ‘Employee Training’ Programs, I agree that they can allow better management of employees and control of their behaviour, and can also create symbolic relations and better identification of the organization. Overall, I believe the management of employees in post-bureaucracy through intangible measure like norms, values and culture are more stable and productive than organizations comprised of rules, procedures and hierarchies.

In this section, the third section, I will argue that power is held in the relationships between people in an organization, and it is critically important to distribute power effectively among individuals within the organization by using David Knights and John Roberts research, “The Power of Organization or The Organization of Power” as reference and support. In my opinion, there is the need to organise roles effectively within an organization in this post-bureaucratic era, as hierarchies still exist, and it is critical to balance power throughout the organization

Knight’s and Robert’s experimented with various types of forms of control on different companies to determine the employee’s responses to these controls. However, each of these companies failed to apprehend the power organisations should express. Reasons being; employees and management abusing trust and power, employees with short term perspectives and constant pressure on staff. These results revealed the importance of power in relationships, and the need for power being balanced. Therefore, managing and effectively distributing power between staff and management can lead to less conflicts as power in post-bureaucracy is more implicit, because it can pose control based upon some versions of culture management and trust.

In this fourth, final section of the essay, I will argue using Emmanuel Ogbonna and Barry Wilkinson’s findings in the journal, “The False Promise of Organisational Culture Change: A Case Study of Middle Manager in Grocery Retailing” to examine the effects of cultural change initiatives on managers in a organization. In this article, managers were presented as ‘agents’ of culture rather than ‘targets’ for culture change. A series of interviews and examination were conducted on managers to “analyse the reactions of those managers who are expected to change their own cultural orientations as well as persuade their subordinates to change” (Ogbonna & Wilkinson’s 2003).

Results revealed that resistance in middle managers took place in subtle forms, such as “engaging only in those involvement activities most visible to senior management” (Ogbonna & Wilkinson’s 2003). However, from the results obtained from studies, it was discovered that reducing the levels or hierarchy in management has been associated with increased job motivation and satisfaction for middle managers, thus, ensuring better management of power and culture within the organization, and thereby placing a limit on the level resistance. Therefore, as discussed using reference to Josserand, Teo and Clegg’s findings, the move from bureaucracy to post-bureaucracy saw the development of culture in organizations due to increased job satisfaction and job morale, allowing management to utilise culture to manage the staff productively. As researched in Rosen’s journal article, holding cultural events such as the ‘Christmas Party’ can establish a sense of culture and belongingness to the organization, providing management the chance to gain better understanding of their employees and thereby the ability to control the employees.

As observed in Knight and Robert’s findings, effective distribution of power allows the establishment of culture and trust within an organization. It is also important to establish a sense of culture within the organization, and in contrast, power must also be distributed effectively, for the organization to be efficient and therefore to limit resistance. Finally, using Ogbonna and Wilkinson’s research on managers, I came to the conclusion that managers respond positively to cultural change initiatives, which seemed to increase their job motivation and satisfaction, thereby providing a ‘domino’ effect on the employees. Therefore, by adopting the post-bureaucracy approach, and through effective management of power and establishment of culture within the organization, it is possible to reduce resistance.

Josserand, E., Teo, S. & Clegg, S. 2006, ‘From bureaucratic to post-bureaucratic: the difficulties of transition’, Journal of Organisational Change Management, vol.19, no. 1, pp. 54-64. Rosen, M. 1988, ‘You asked for it: Christmas at the bosses’ expense’, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 25, no. 5, pp. 463-80. Knights, D. & Roberts, J. 1982, ‘The power of organization or the organization of power?’, Organization Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 47-63. Ogbonna, E. & Wilkinson, B. 2003, ‘The false promise of organizational culture change: A case study of middle managers in grocery retailing’, Journal of Management Studies, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 1151-78.


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 7 May 2016

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