The aspects of a Non Governmental Organization

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Learning is considered to be an essential component of organizational effectiveness in all sectors - private, public and non-governmental. All NGOs aspire to be learning organizations, yet few have reflected systematically on the success in this regard (Edwards 1997). However, NGO's have recognised the importance of management development in its field, the concept has originate from private sector organisations but has been modified to suit the purpose, values and success criteria of NGO sectors.

This essay critically evaluates from my observations the possibilities of learning organisations and their potential for responding to organisational challenges and whether there are any features that distinguish learning in IRW (Islamic Relief Worldwide - a international Non Government Organisation (NGO).

Many NGO's are examining the relevance of management and organisational concepts from commercial world in order to increase their effectiveness, efficiency and impact. IRW claim to adapt this approach in the ongoing structural change. The emerging use of ideas from organisation development in the NGO world is part of this trend (James 1997).

Critical evaluation

There are many different definition of the learning organisation. One particularly influential definition is that of Pedler et al (1991): 'an organisation that facilitates the learning of all its members and continuously transforms itself'. The learning organisation has its 11 characteristic which is in Appendix 1. In my opinion if one truly adapts this concept it surely is successful.

A more comprehensive definition is by Argyris (1977) who defines organizational learning as the process of "detection and correction of errors." In his view organizations learn through individuals acting as agents for them: "The individuals' learning activities, in turn, are facilitated or inhibited by an environmental system of factors that may be called an organizational learning system" (p. 117).

Though, Huber (1991) considers four constructs as integrally linked to organizational learning: knowledge acquisition, information distribution, information interpretation, and organizational memory. He clarifies that learning need not be conscious or intentional. Further, learning does not always increase the learner's effectiveness, or even potential effectiveness.

Weick (1991) argues that the defining property of learning is the combination of same stimulus and different responses, however it is rare in organizations meaning either organizations don't learn or that organizations learn but in non-traditional ways., he argues, Organizational Learning perhaps involves a different kind of learning than has been described in the past: "the process within the organization by which knowledge about action-outcome relationships and the effect of the environment on these relationships is developed" (Duncan & Weiss 1979). In his view, "a more radical approach would take the position that individual learning occurs when people give a different response to the same stimulus, but Organizational Learning occurs when groups of people give the same response to different stimuli."

Enhancing individuals and organisational learning is one of the hardest thing managers will do as it requires a great deal of reflecting. Reflecting practice has been popularise organisational learning literature such as (Senge 1990).

Some theories argue that this type of learning cannot occur unless organisational members are able to identify new knowledge, transfer and interpret new knowledge, use the knowledge to adjust behaviour or practices and pass on this knowledge to others. (Levinson and Asahi 1995: 59-60). Others present different views a of what it is to b e a reflective practitioner (Golding and Currie 1999)

Others argue that self reflexive practice is further development of reflective practice, Questions such as 'who am i and who am I becoming? Are ones that self reflexive practitioner would ask themselves 'what really happened, why, and what can I do about it?

To engage in self-reflexive practice is something similar to trying to rethink and rework one's own identity , values and assumptions, to such an extent that self reflective practise has been regarded as being tantamount to trying to 'jump over one's shadow' (Limerick and Cunnington 1993:221)

Characteristic of NGO and organisations learning

Modernist views dominate the study of strategy and strategy researchers most often use the rational decision making model as their foundation. The emergent model begins by questioning the assumptions of rationality and strategy planning which modern approach relies on.

I believe emergent approach is necessary component of the strategic planning process, especially in non profit organisation such as IRW, in order for all information from all parts of organisation can be included in decision making process and staff can be motive to support organisation goals.

In the studies of Quinn (1991:103) the nine major multinational companies he found that ''Many successful executive will initially set only broad goals and policies which can accommodate a variety of specific proposal from below, give a sense of guidance to the proposers.''

He viewed strategy emerge within the general outline of strategic plan, but from foundation activities taking place throughout the organisation and according to a pattern of trail and error learning. This is valid point, IRW adapt radical approach rational model without taking into account ''trail-and error learning which is most likely to come from operational and middle management staff. Also the increasing pressure on NGO to deliver high quality service with limited resources, IRW practises are continually changing through a trail and error process as employee, supervisors seek adhoc arrangement that meet their emerging needs . They favour rational model taking a top down view, portraying the internal process as a tool of management.

In recent years a transformation of public organisation from rule-driven bureaucracies to post bureaucratic, horizontally linked organisation (Plant 2006). Which has resulted in team based structure such as cross-functional teams, which brings better empower employees and drive organisational learning. However it seem to me theory and practice of strategic planning appears to remain rooted in traditional bureaucratise, top down assumption and does not take into consideration to how the rest of organisation is engaged. I feel this is the reason why no connection between strategic plan and operational business plan. Therefore in my opinion to achieve overall goal of improved performance the whole organisation should be involved in strategic planning processes to deal effectively with the overwhelming complexity and pace of chance. Upper manager lacks the capacity to of this alone. They need to understand that.

Though I am for emergent model, i agree with the way Japanese organisation development develop their strategy which suggest that action routinely precedes the public announcement of plans (Pascale 1979).

Conclusion

Word count 1750

Challenging Management Assumption (organisation theory)

Introduction

Management is a process of designing and maintaining an environment in which individuals, working together in groups, efficiently accomplished selected aim (Koontz and Weihrich 1990, P. 4). Management theory includes work as systems approach, situational or contingency theory, chaos theory and team building approaches.

Organization theory is important as it helps to analyses complicated situation and discovers the effective means to deal with them. Many theories are formed which can be grouped as classical, modern, symbolic-interpretive, post modern. All have diversity and different perspectives and assumptions, on organisations. However it is a mistake to believe that perspective replaces older ones. There are multiple perspective which organization theory brings depends on complex of organisation.

Important role for a manager is bringing of relationship into being for mutual advantages. Some focus on power of management as groups where one group becomes powerful and remains dominant over another for long periods of time.

Literature Assessment

The rational model represents classical management theory and the modernist perspectives of organisational theory. Each see organisation in different perspectives therefore each present a different image of strategy (Chaffee 1985)

Organization strategy is a scheme for competing in the marketplace; tactic are used to carry out planned activities while continuously adjusting to the competitive situation as its unfold. In modernist organization theory, the concept of strategy refers to top management planned efforts to influence organizational outcome by managing the organization relationship to its environment. Symbolic interpretation organization theory focuses shifts to process of enacting strategy's or the role of strategy in the social construction of organization. Resources dependence perspective theory is written from point of view of the organization rather than environment. Institutional perspective suggests that strategy is a symobilic questions. Does the organization look successful? Does it conform to external expectation about product and it practices?

Traditional approaches to management emphasize management as the control of relationships. Scientific management constricts the supervisor-employee relations as that between the head and the hand, with the head (manager/supervisor) firmly in control, giving instructions and the hands (employees) carry them out.

System thinking, developed in 1940's takes a particular view of the process of relationships, looking for functional and dysfunctional element and emphasizing the relationship of fitting in with the environment inorder to survive.

IRW rests on established belief on traditions and religion, the obligation of obedience is based on personal loyalty to religious obligations. IRW also rest on devotion to charmastic leader it is the charismatically qualified leader who is obeyed by virtue of personal trust in him/ his exemplary qualities.

Critical evaluation

According to rational model, the strategy process begins with an analysis of the environment (external appraisal) and assessment of the organisation (internal appraisal). The appraisal is interpreted to uncover the opportunities and threat that the environment present to the organisation. The internal appraisal reveals strength and weaknesses. The combination of internal and external appraisal gives you the strategy the basic inputs to the problem of managing fit.

Rational models encourage separation between the activities of strategy formation and implementation. Top management focus on analysing the treats and opportunities in the environment and devise a strategy

However, rational model produces communication problems especially when implementer's do not understand what formulator intend or when strategic formulator inaccurately perceive what implementers are able to do, or do not take into account what they prefer to do. CHANGE OF STRUCTURE

The separation between top management (strategy formulator) and middle managers (implementer) can affect the commitment of implementer to strategic objectives. It is evidence in many research it shows when individual are nor involved is establishing their goals, they are much less likely to feel motivated to achieve them than when they are allowed to participate in the process.

However, when this lack of involvement occurs as a result of the separation it can also effect the organisation in terms of miscommunication and under commitment will leas to poorly conceived or misunderstood strategies, or to strategies that are simply ignored or actively undermined. I believe these aspects can result in failed attempt to implement strategy.

Management see advocate top down management see 'participation' in planning process as 'curative'. It does create problems for rational model as it is built so that ideas flow from the top to bottom of organisation. Therefore if participation is included it reserve the flow and it becomes bottom up as well as top down. This creates the emergent strategy which considers participation.

A rational decision making model assumes that there is only one best outcome, that all options are considered and they know the future consequences of each! However in my opinion no human is aware what the future holds and what the universe plans. The search for perfection actually delays decision making which has severe consequences especially in a humanitarian organisation. Most importantly the rational decision making model attempts to exclude the role of emotions in decision making. I believe IRW is an emotional organisation and using rational decision making may not be effective at times as it limited by the person cognitive abilities of making a decision. The criteria used to make a decision will be subjective and difficult to compare.

Rational model treats organisation like a tool in hands of top management, I consider strategy as a process of designing the organisation to achieve its purpose. This represents classical management theory.

Nevertheless, just because it is easy to find evidence that strategy process are not rational doesn't mean that the ideal of rationality should be dismissed. Rationality is powerful symbol of modernity however we need to recognise its limitation and ask ourselves when does it work.

Modernist views dominate the study of strategy and strategy researchers most often use the rational decision making model as their foundation. The emergent model begins by questioning the assumptions of rationality and strategy planning which modern approach relies on.

I believe emergent approach is necessary component of the strategic planning process, especially in non profit organisation such as IRW, in order for all information from all parts of organisation can be included in decision making process and staff can be motive to support organisation goals.

In the studies of Quinn (1991:103) the nine major multinational companies he found that ''Many successful executive will initially set only broad goals and policies which can accommodate a variety of specific proposal from below, give a sense of guidance to the proposers.''

He viewed strategy emerge within the general outline of strategic plan, but from foundation activities taking place throughout the organisation and according to a pattern of trail and error learning. This is valid point, IRW adapt radical approach rational model without taking into account ''trail-and error learning which is most likely to come from operational and middle management staff. Also the increasing pressure on NGO to deliver high quality service with limited resources, IRW practises are continually changing through a trail and error process as employee, supervisors seek adhoc arrangement that meet their emerging needs . They favour rational model taking a top down view, portraying the internal process as a tool of management.

In recent years a transformation of public organisation from rule-driven bureaucracies to post bureaucratic, horizontally linked organisation (Plant 2006). Which has resulted in team based structure such as cross-functional teams, which brings better empower employees and drive organisational learning. However it seem to me theory and practice of strategic planning appears to remain rooted in traditional bureaucratise, top down assumption and does not take into consideration to how the rest of organisation is engaged. I feel this is the reason why no connection between strategic plan and operational business plan. Therefore in my opinion to achieve overall goal of improved performance the whole organisation should be involved in strategic planning processes to deal effectively with the overwhelming complexity and pace of chance. Upper manager lacks the capacity to of this alone. They need to understand that.

Though I am for emergent model, i agree with the way Japanese organisation development develop their strategy which suggest that action routinely precedes the public announcement of plans (Pascale 1979).

Therefore, it reverses rational model implementation procedes rather than follows analysis and formulation. However this is argued, legitimates what is already being done and symbolically communication to other the openness of management to new ideas.

My favourite view is Weick (1987:222) which suggested that action produce strategy. Therefore a strategy is inferred from successful action that develops through experimentation or discovered by luck.

IRW field staff are the once that produce the end product (projects) there role in strategic formulation is significant as Weik says ''Managers keep forgetting that it is what they do, not what they plan, that explains their success. The credit is given to wrong aspect ''planning''

Weik believes ''execution is analysis and implementation is formulation'' Weick (1987:222)

$Conclusion

Ricardo Semler's organisation Semco has been portrayed as the world's most unusual workplace. Furthermore his approach to management is sometimes referred to as 'corporate democracy'.

With reference to your experience and observations of organisations, and appropriate theory, critically evaluate Semler's approach in terms of democracy and employee empowerment.

Criticism calls for improved employee performance and involvement, for management attention to family life and flexible hours of work, for organisational cultures that promote belonging, identification and warm interpersonal relations in team and family-style work groups.

Overview of Management Theories

Theories are perspectives with which people make sense of their world experiences (Stoner et. al. 2003, pp. 31-2). Theory is a systematic grouping of interdependent concepts and principles that give a framework to tie together a significant area of knowledge.

There are many management approaches and analysis with different views which leaves me confused on what Management is. What is management theory? And how do managerial events be analyzed?. This is what scholars call ''management jungle'' (Koontz 1961, pp. 174-188; 1962, p. 24; 1980, pp. 175-187). According to (Alvesson 1996 and Willmott, 1993) Management is viewed as a set of practices and discourses embedded within broader power relations that is systematically marginalising others.

In my opinion, theories of management are theories that provide a stable focus for understanding what we experience which can be done by experiments and help us to communicate efficiently in order to move to more difficult relationship with others. I believe theories are tools that challenge us to learn about the management and the world.

Critical thinking is essential as it enables managers and employees to strategically improve organisations production methods and procedures. Managers need to know how to analyse problems, how to use the knowledge they have acquired in a questioning manner, and how to employ their creative capacities to see things in new ways in order to resolve dilemmas.

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