Introduction In order to have a better understanding of organization theory, organizational phenomena should be studied in different ways. Different ways of thinking produce different perspectives which come to different concepts and theories. In this essay, multiple perspectives which are modern, symbolic-interpretive and post-modern will be defined. By examine the assumptions, which are ontology and epistemology underlying each of these perspectives, they can be compared. Also, how these perspectives contribute to different ways to think about organizational culture will be discussed in this essay.
Modern, Symbolic-interpretive and Post-modern perspectives Modernists are objectivists who focus on reality of knowledge which is build based upon the conceptualization and the theorization. There is always lucid definitions on how thing occur, often through the use of data that are collected from tools of measurement. For example, a company earns profits based on the CEO’s ability to make right decisions while investing the money. Hatch and Cunliffe stated that the data which modernists recognize are from the five senses, through what they see, heard, touch, smell and tasted (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2006: 15).
Modernism organization works according to the system implemented by the general system theory. The system can be set through deductive modes where theories are tested by using practice (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2006: 26). It is aimed to build a set of rules that can be used in organization so that everyone will be able to follow, perform and function, ensuring the entire process in the organization works smoothly. Henri Fayol is a representative from modern organization as he developed the scientific management which is a framework on how system flows in organization.
His contributions included identifying different organizational activities and established the principles of management, for example the esprit de corps and unity of command. When modernist operates a company, rules and laws is development for the members to follow. Symbolic-Interpretive can be defined as “An approach concerned with understanding the nature, practices, and consequences of symbol usage within groups, as well as how groups and group processes are themselves products of symbolic activities. (Poole and Hollingshead, 2005: 188) Symbolic-interpretivists who are subjectivist, define reality through what they experienced by having emotions and feelings towards what had happened. Post Modernist sees reality as an illusion that was created through language and discourse. The epistemology of post-modern stated that there is no exact truth and therefore no precise explanation of meaning. However, it is to believe that organizations are entities that take every possible aspect to reinforce power with their knowledge.
The relationship between concepts is always changing as there is no clear definition of a word or concept can be fully verified. Basically, these theories are developed on the basis of critically analyzing the assumptions of major theories that attempts to establish the totality of human existence. Post-modernism seeks to rebuke the notion that history repeats itself in a consistent form of logic through ‘social progress’ and ‘rationalization’. Organizational Culture
Organizational culture can be defined as a system of shared beliefs and values that develops within an organization and guides the behavior of its members. It includes routine behaviors, norms, dominant values, and a feeling or climate conveyed. The purpose and function of this culture is to help foster internal integration, bring staff members from all levels of the organization much closer together, and enhance their performance. Organization culture is developed by having assumption what is happening and also the degree of awareness to participate to be part of the culture.
According to Schein, there are three levels of culture which are artifacts, values, and assumptions (Schneider & Barsoux 1997: 21) Artifacts consists of organizations visible symbols, mark or logo which can represent the image of the organizations. Values of organization can be the beliefs which used to develop mission and vision statement which is referred by employees. According to modernist, corporate culture can influenced performance within organization.
Modernism organization form culture where individual shares same goal. They argue that external factors can either help organization to improve performance once they adapt the new transformation or reduce the effectiveness once they could not catch up with the change. Quantitative analysis method is used to measure the degree of how culture relate to organization adaption and performance. Kotter and Heskett used the financial analysis various company to evaluate the strength of the culture (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2006: 189).
Nowadays, research can by looking at corporation financial year review to see the performance of culture versus effectiveness. From symbolic-interpretvists’ point of view, they recognized organizational culture as long as they understand and it is reasonable to them. They need interpretation and validation that are meaningful when looking at organizational culture. Instead of carrying out archival research, symbolic-interpretvists focus on contemporary ‘verbal symbols’ of culture: myths, sagas, stories and legends (Schultz 1995: 82-88).
These are representations of a history that cannot be known. The history of an organizational culture is seen as consisting of ‘historical residues’ that can be uncovered by a ‘thorough examination of a culture’ in the present (Trice and Beyer 1993: 6). This is supported by the ‘strong belief’ among ethnographers. “that it is possible to analyze groups from an ahistorical perspective. The history that counts is, according to this view, embedded in the daily practices and symbolic life of the group studied and hence will be taken into account naturally. (Van Maanen 1988: 72) Organizational symbolists have much in common with those sociologists who start from the position that problems of meaning and understanding in history are best overcome by ‘indepth, qualitative interviewing’. For example, stories within organizations can lead to an understanding of culture (Liam, 1989, p. 3). Through story-telling, symbolic-interpretivist believes that people can be energized to create success or be more alert with the problem they are facing. This can be done through promoting a manager who has great achievement to inspire the rest of the staff.
Social constructionist uses qualitative data gathering methods where observation will be carried out to narrow their perspective to investigate organization culture. They will examine through having interview with their focus group. Unlike modernism and symbolic-interpretive, post-modernist stress that organization culture is not real. They actually have ideological opinions towards cultural and serve it as an illusion. They advocate power and maintain power to make themselves privilege compares to the others within the organization.
Both modern and symbolic-interpretive does not have power involved. Modernism focuses on effectiveness and helps to understand how culture fixes into corporation. Yet, symbolic-interpretive is about how to carry out the process of training people or to discover data. They used emotion to guide members in the process of reconstructing ideas. Post-modernist will struggle to gain power over each other. Disney is a favourite for discourse analysis since, unlike most industrial enterprises, it can be characterized as a ‘storytelling organization’ (Boje 1995).
Boje claims to deconstruct the stories told about Walt Disney by Walt Disney Enterprises: “To deconstruct is to actually analyze the relations between the dualities in stories … to show the ambiguity embedded in them and to show the storytelling practices used to discipline particular meanings. Only collecting the happy side of Disney organization stories, as do the official biographies, and only telling the dark side of Disney stories are both rather one-sided ways to analyze Disney story-telling. My approach was to look at multiple variations of the Disney stories to show how each version covered up a great deal of ambiguity. (Boje 1995: 1007) Boje contrasts the ‘official Disney stories’, which ‘privilege Walt as the sole founder’, with the unofficial accounts, which emphasize the contribution of the other two founding partners, Roy Disney and Ub Iwerks, who also devoted most of their lives to building the ‘Magic Kingdom’ (Boje 1995: 1011). Conclusion The more we understand multiple perspectives, the more we understand organizational phenomena. Modernism focus on labour management, symbolic-interpretive pay more attention on emotion and interaction among people while post-modernist have awareness on professional-manual.
It is hard to define those perspectives as the organization change from time to time. References Boje, David M. , 1995, Stories of the storytelling organization: a postmodern analysis of Disney as “Tamara-land” Academy of Management Journal 38: 997-1035. Gorman, Liam, 1989, ‘Corporate Culture’, Management Decision, vol . 27, no. 1 , pp. 1-6, viewed 16th August 2009, Emerald Group Publishing. Hatch, Mary J. and Cunliffe, Ann L. , 2006, Organization Theory, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press: Oxford. Hassard, John and Pym, Denis, 1990, The Theory and Philosophy of Organizations: Critical Issues and New Perspectives, Routledge.
Poole, Marshall S. and Hollingshead, Andrea B. , 2005, Theories of Small Groups: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Sage. Rowlinson, M. and Procter, S. , Summer, 1999, Organizational Culture and Business History, Organization Studies, Sage. Schultz, Majken, 1995, On studying organizational cultures. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. Schneider, S. C. & Barsoux, J. L, 1997, Managing Across Cultures, Prentice Hall, Europe Trice, Harrison M. , and Janice M. Beyer, 1993, The cultures of work organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Van Maanen, John, 1988, Tales of the field: on writing ethnography. London: University of Chicago Press.
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