The assignment will focus on three areas to examine what organisations are, why they exist and to the factors which are common to some, if not all organisations. The first part of the assignment will define what organisations are and outline major theories that contribute towards an analysis of why organisations exist. The second part of the assignment will review major theories that contribute to an analysis of the factors of organisations by an analysis of the classical approach, the humanistic and neo-humanistic and the ways they assist the coordination and integration of the human workforce. The assignment will go on to outline and discuss factors which are common or shared by an evaluation of two different organisations, social services and the youth service in the borough of Lambeth.
To examine what organisations are, why the exist and the common factors, it is useful to use a definition from Farnham & Horton (2007), Principal Lecturer in Public Sector Studies and Professor of Employment Relations respectively at University of Portsmouth. They state that organisations are;
“Social constructs created by groups in society to achieve specific purposes by means of planned and coordinated activities. Those activities involve using human resources to act in association with other inanimate resources in order to achieve the aims of the organisation” Cited, Mullins’ (2007) P.75
The definition is useful is analysing that organisations are essentially constructed, construction as discussed by Berger and Luckmann (1970) suggest theories define the ways individuals share a common purpose, and how they interact collectively to achieve specific ambitions and objectives on behalf of themselves, consumers and their organisations. For Mullins (2007) organisations exist according to size, product, origins and service they are all fundamentally distinguished by their nature and have different legal statuses i.e. (PLC’s) Public Limited Companies LTD, (Limited Companies), (C.I.C) Community Interest Companies and so forth.
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From the micro to the macro level, from the local to the global, organisations exist primarily to achieve goals and objectives and or provide commodities and services to individuals and or groups in a coordinated and strategically planned manner. All organisations have a vision and functions. They are governed for Mullins (2007) by a range of strategic external drivers, such as the political, economic and social agenda. These external drivers influence roles which are in some way instrumental to the function of the organisation and are usually overseen by elected members of senior staff such as managers or supervisors.
“The importance of achieving productivity is through the effective management of people and their commitment to and involvement with the organisation.” (Mullins 1999) quotes
To understand organisations their factors and means of existence a comparative analysis is useful. The assignment considers the Local Authority of Lambeth, the statutory legal responsibilities of Children and Families and the non-statutory and non-legal responsibilities of the Youth Service. Both aims to provide a satisfactory and effective service, members of both comply with rigid sets of goals and contrasting levels of accountability. The communication between these bodies represent both open and closed systems and demonstrate different levels of conflicts that arises within the organisation that are resolved using both formal and informal systems. Members possess values which compliment the different organisations and have different approaches to evaluate their own performance in line with the organisations objectives.
To understand the different factors in these organisations (Weick 1996) argues that groups can be given the same stimulus / information but the persuasion is the uppermost determining indicator of change or learning and individual responses are always different. He was of the belief that each individual learned in different ways and that assimilation of any new direction was contingent on individual personalities. Weick (1996) was certain that what really counted was the skill and ability of employees to integrate their varying and contrasting opinions to fit in with the aims of the organization.
It is apparent that organisations can be complex ventures which require theoretical frameworks to enable managers and other senior staff to gain an understanding of their work force and to assist them with coordinating employees and their specific tasks effectively in their attempt to maximize efficiency for the advantage of the organisation, their customers and the members as a whole. Lambeth is a complex inner city local authority, staff and managers are politically accountable to a democratic elected council, a Public organisation governed by statutory legislation; Children Act 1989, Housing Acts 2006, Education Act 2006 and Criminal Justice Legislation of 1988.
Using the the Classical based on the work of Weber (1930) this approach is characterized by three main components which include hierarchical bureaucratic arrangements, where rules are made by senior management and did not usually allow room for consultation with or disputes by subordinates. Then there is the administrative aspect which refers to the flow of information, production of goods and operations within the work setting and finally, the scientific element in relation to structure, rules, productivity, efficiency, procedure, hierarchy and the clear division of labour. (Taylor: 1947).
Classical theory examines the largely fixed and impersonal factors that make organisations exist, in terms of adherence to rules and regulations of the organisations and interactions with employees. A classical organizational map of Lambeth reveals clear line management systems and hierarchical levels from practitioners and managers in social services and youth workers. It is a flat and linear hierarchy, formal and paternal.
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This approach to organisational behaviour and arrangements attracted criticism from the functionalist scholar Merton (1957) who argued that this bureaucratic model, advocated by Weber et al (1947) was flawed. They were dependent on written rules and procedures which largely ignored the social or humanistic aspects of employee’s needs and personal circumstances which in turn contributed to employee discontentment. Ironically, this criticism is now leveled at Social Services in the implementation of the 2004 Children Act and the 1990 Community Care Acts as imposing clinical formal and de-personalised forms of structures. In contrast to youth services who governed by loose political structures until the recent move to tendering and privitisation of community services.
Merton (1957) argument is that this dependency on written convention discouraged flexibility, individual creativity and initiative is apparent in local government organisations. Weber (1957) further argued that the rigidity of the classical approach prevented employees from influencing any aspect of their work environment or the design or development of their work. Both Social Services are governed by operational plans, assessment procedures and eligibility criteria that substantiate the claim made by Merton (1957). Whilst Youth Service is a community based organisation fluid and negotiate systems of working with young people.
In contrast to the classical approach, Mayo (1947) suggests that modern organisations adopt a more humanistic approach which took into consideration employee social and psychological needs as developed from the work of Maslow (1954). At the top of this hierarchy above safety needs is the need to self-actualise in accordance with the work of Maslow (1954) similar to the person centered approach of Rogers (1970). So the common factors in relation to the humanistic and the neo-humastic revolve around job descriptions, appraisals, training and supervision to support the continual professional development of staff. Implicit in these approaches is the need for organisations to have staff that is able to perform specific duties. For example Social services perform a statutory role in the protection of children and exist to promote the welfare of children. This is in contrast to Youth services that perform non-statutory role, they exist to liberate and empower children to make decisions for themselves. Whilst both organisations have common factors, children, they exist and are determined by factors from completely different political and ideological agendas.
At the humanistic level Taylor and Weber (1930) suggest the common factors of organisations are based on hierarchal rules, integrated systems and organic system of rule as fundamental to why organisations exist in the capitalist and post-capitalist age. This disguises especially in relation to our case examines the importance of a neo-Marxist analysis from the work of Althusser (1970) who argues organisations exist to ideologically and repressively control individuals. Consequently at the neo-humanistic level whilst Maslow (1954) and Rogers (1970) show the common factors and why organisations exist to meet individual and organizational needs. Althusser (1970) and Foucault (1961) reveal the informal and implicit factors of organisations, the need to control. It has been argued by Bailey and Brakes (1979) that social services exist to control deviance, the role of both social and youth worker should be to empower as opposed to ensure individuals fit into the functional analysis of society as discussed by Spencer (1897) and
Both functionalist and Marxists analysis of the common factors of organisations and why they exist on a political level are deterministic, they assume why that they operate before an examination of the actions and constructions of the individuals inside the organisation. For this reason, it is difficult to assess how individuals at these different levels particularly in relation to the case studies of social work and youth work construct how organisation exist at the individual and collective level and the types of performances that are necessary for organisation to exit at the front stage as discussed in the work of Goffman (1956).
For Silverman (1970) it is only possible to detect why organisations exist and outline the common factors by examining the meaning of the actions and how they may vary across different parts of the organisation. For Foucault (1961) and his post-modernist approach to understanding organisations, in the area, organisations can exist and have a complex levels of common and different factors that may be determined by the room, the narrative people use and the agreed forms of behaviour in different settings of the organisations. Consequently organisations exist beyond the simple structural and strategic level, the governance and political level. Organisations can change how they exist in relation to a number of external drivers such as the economic, political structures and the whole mission statement of the organisation.
If this theory is applied to social work and youth work, whilst they are shaped by complex external political and economic factors at the classical, humanistic and neo-humanistic level their existence and the common factors can be constructed in divergent ways. For example whilst both social and youth services as organisations have been shaped by a new-right economist approach of Freeman (1949) and a post-modernist third way approach of Giddens (1998), this has lead to both commissioning services from external organisation. It has contributed towards a consumer approach to organizational care in which the client constructs the services in which the organisation of social work and youth work who then construct the need and purchase the service. From a social action perspective whilst social care organisations exist to assess the needs of clients, the inter-relationship between the client, the care manager or youth worker is key to the construction of the plan and the intervention of care and how the organisation exists to respond to needs of the client in a cost effective and efficient way.
In conclusion organisations exist and have a variety of common factors from a purely theoretical level. From a classical level they have a structure, from a scientific base they have rule, roles, and hierarchies and from a neo-humanistic level they fulfill a variety of individual and organizational needs. When connected to the case studies they reveal that the common factors and means of existence can vary especially in relation to one organisation, Lambeth Council in relation to two different departments. Whilst the classical approach of Weber (1930) reveals the outside formal ways Lambeth operate through management systems, the neo-humanistic approach of Maslow (1954) reveal the challenges in organisations try to exist to fulfill contrasting needs, the needs of the client and the needs of the organisation. This contrast or conflict is best analysed through the work of Althusser (1970) on an ideological level and by Foucault (1961) on a narrative level.
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