Need To Fully Understand An Organisation Commerce Essay


In analysing organisation, there is a need to fully understand the description of an organisation. Watson (2006) emphasizes that research into organisation and management should be preceded by an awareness of the fundamental components of an organisation. Organisation has been defined from two major perspectives; objective and subjective points of view. The following are some of the prominent definitions from a subjective point of view.

Etzioni (1964) defines organisation as planned units set up for the purpose to achieve certain goals. His work focuses on organisational goals, organisational structure, and their social environment. In a similar mode, Rollinson & Broadfield (2002) defines organisation as social objects set to maintain a desired goal in a continuous process whereby people in the unit carry out some activities directed towards achieving set goals. Furnham (2005) further defines an organisation as a group of social animals who live together. On the other hand, Robertson, I., Callinan, M. & Bartram, D. (2002) argues that organisations are not limited to a group of people aiming for the same end, but organisation should also focus on the different types and values of relationships existing between those people. Although recognition of corporate organisational goals is reliant on the performance of people, organisations also enhance opportunity to satisfy distinctive needs. This work is therefore of the view that an organisation is not a structure or a set of rules; organisations consist of people and their interaction with one another in the environment they find themselves (Draft, 2007).

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At this point, there is a need to study organisation because it is of great importance and it helps for reflection and understanding of one's personality. Organisation theory is about individuals and how they communicate with each other but it is often taken with levity due to the vagueness in the way things appear to be (McAuley, Duberley and Johnson, 2007). Hatch (1997) explains that Organisation Theory has been and will always be multifaceted because of the different perspectives from various fields. Consequently, her work is based on the classical, modern, symbolic interpretive and postmodern perspectives. She employed a framework by Burrell and Morgan (1979) which was designed with the assumption that all organisational theories are based on the philosophy of science and a theory of society. This combination of science and society is further based on the following assumptions: ontology, epistemology, human nature and methodology.

For the purpose of this work, the Burrell and Morgan framework for analysing an organisation will be used. The different paradigms will be introduced with a specific focus on the Radical Humanists paradigm. This will include a discussion on the procedure for carrying out research on the organisation (methodology); an analysis of the data focusing on Organisations Culture; an evaluation of the Organisations Culture; a summary of the chosen paradigm and the researcher's point of view.


Burrell and Morgan (1979) explains paradigm as a word used in stressing the similarity of beliefs which connects the research of a group of theorists such that it can be assumed as deriving a social theory within a scope of that same problem. In the same view, Mink (2002) defines paradigms as depicting a world perspective emphasising that it is a way of perceiving, viewing, interpreting and knowing the world. At the heart of the Burrell and Morgan framework is belief that paradigms argue and contend the extent to which the assumptions can be perceived. (Crossan et al, 1994).


Burrell and Morgan (1979) demonstrate their assumption in a 2 X 2 matrix. This framework explains the social world in two parts. There is the Subjective vs. Objective and Regulation vs. Radical change dimensions. This model assumes that the social world experiences debates and domination (Sociology of change), or the social world experiences unity and togetherness (sociology of regulation). In the Subjective dimension, individuals interpret the social world by experiencing it, while individuals in the objective dimension interpret the social world by observing it.

Burrell and Morgan's Framework of Four Paradigms

Adapted from Burrell and Morgan (1979)


Functionalist's interest is providing reasons for sociological problems from an objective standpoint. Its main aim of analysis is to identify problems and solve it. The functionalist is highly drawn to managing organisations (Burrell & Morgan, 1979).


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Similar to the Radical Humanist, the interpretive paradigm analyses the world as it is so as to have an understanding of its basic nature through subjective experience. (Collins, 1979)

Radical Structuralist

This is also similar to the Radical Humanist in that they both emphasize change. It is however dissimilar in its approach. The radical structuralist views the social world objectively seeking to understand the link within the structure of the social world during change. (Crossan et al, 1994)


The interest of this paradigm lies in a subjective radical change. It is concerned with getting freedom from the bonds which current management place on human advancement (Burrell and Morgan, 1979). Social life in this paradigm is characterized by conflict and dissent with an anti-human view of society. It can be specifically described as encouraging the dynamic analysis of organisation and showing an interest in the processes of change rather than seeking to contribute towards the management of change. The radical humanist paradigm assumes that reality is socially created and sustained. It views the process of reality creation as feeding back on itself; such that individuals and society are prevented from reaching their highest possible potential. That is, the consciousness of human beings is dominated by the ideological superstructures of the social system, which results in false consciousness. This, in turn, prevents true human fulfilment.

Radical humanists believe that everything must be grasped as a whole, because the whole dominates the parts in an all-embracing sense. Truth is historically specific, relative to a given set of circumstances, so that one should not search for generalizations for the laws of motion of societies.

The focus of the radical humanists upon the "superstructural" aspects of society reflects their attempt to emphasize the Hegelian dialectics. It is through the dialectic that the objective and subjective aspects of social life interact.


One major limitation of this model is the incommensurability of paradigms (Jackson & Carter, 2000). Paradigms are mutually exclusive; therefore advocates of these paradigms have different objectives and attempt to solve different problems. This has made it hard for many scientists to identify their paradigms in the four quadrants (Deetz, 1996).


'In order to understand alternative points of view, it is important that a theorist be fully aware of the assumptions upon which his own perspective is based' (Burrell & Morgan, 1979 pp ix)

This work will be analysing the chosen organisation as a Radical Humanist. This is because the researcher is interested in overcoming the constraints that restricts human power in organisations. The organisation is seen as modes of domination, hindering individuals from attaining full potentials (Collins, 2006). The researcher seeks radical change from a subjective point of view.


Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GT Bank) is a leading bank in Nigeria with a corporate banking bias and strong service culture that has led to consistent year to year growth in the clientele base and financial indices. The bank was incorporated as a limited liability company licensed to provide commercial and other banking services to the Nigerian public in 1990. It commenced operations in February 1991, and has since then grown to become one of the most respected and service focused banks in Nigeria.

In September 1996, GT Bank became a publicly traded company and won the Nigerian Stock Exchange Presidential Merit award that same year and subsequently in the years 2000, 2003, and 2005-2008. In February 2002, the bank was granted a universal banking license and later appointed a settlement bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2003. Over the years, GT Bank has continued to receive commendations for their superior financial performance, excellent customer service, and dynamic management efficiency. (


The Cash and Teller department is seen as the arm of the operations unit of the bank. It handles different services to its customers including customer queries, bank deposits, withdrawals and transfers. It is the first point of call for all business transactions.


The data collection for this research is highly subjective as it is based primarily on the researcher's experience within the organisation. This is beneficial because as a subjectivist, it is believed that organisations are better analysed through experience and not observations.

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One major criticism of this research is the lack of diversity in the data because the experiences of other members of the organisation were not included. Therefore this work displays a lot of assumptions based on the perspective and experiences of one individual.

However, if this research was to be done again, a qualitative research approach will be used. According to Ghauri (2005) a qualitative research is a combination of rational, explorative and intuitive research where experience is fully utilised. Unstructured Interviews will be used for data collection to ascertain how people feel about the organisation they work for.


The different definitions of culture will be examined from a subjective point of view. Schein (1985) describes culture as a profound stage of fundamental assumptions and beliefs common to members of an organisation relating to the organisation and its environment. However Smirch (1983) explains that culture is not what an organisation possesses, but what the organisation is. Culture has also been defined as the way things are done based on the rules in the organisation (Deal & Kennedy (1982) and Peter & Waterman (1982)). This work disagrees with the latter definition because the authors ignore the human consciousness in organisation culture but rather place emphasis on the rules set by the organisation.

Smircich explains that aspects of organisations are understood in expressive, ideational and symbolic terms. Therefore analysing the culture of an organisation will be to examine the concept as a subjective experience and to explore the order that enhance organized actions (Smircich, 1983). Smircich identifies the following themes as representations of Culture and Organisational theory: Comparative Management, Corporate Culture, Organisational Cognition, Organisation Symbolism, and Unconscious Processes (Jelinek, Smircich, & Hirsch, 1983).


According to Brown (1998) the two most popular models of Organisational culture is Hofstede et al (1990) model and Schein (1985) model. Clegg et al (1998) explains that to have a deeper understanding of culture Schein identifies the various aspects of culture as Artefacts, Values and Basic Assumptions.

This work will be analysing the Cash & Teller (C&T) Department of GT Bank from a radical humanist point of view based on the aforementioned aspects of culture.


Brown (1998) describes that the corporate logos and mission statement give a clear understanding of the organisation's culture. Schein (1997) further defines artefacts as the physical features of the organisation such as buildings, uniforms and internal decor. They are the most seen and conspicuous display of an organisation. For the purpose of this research, the GT Bank`s company logo and mission statement will be analysed.


The logo appears in the GT Orange & white colour outside the bank in the top most corner of the bank. It is placed there to attract attention from people who are passing by the bank buildings. The colour orange is employed by the bank as it symbolises sociability and friendliness. It can also be described as a joyous colour; it evokes a feeling of warmth, demands attention, stimulates the mind and lastly its free and shows recognition of emotions. The company logo is more than just a symbol; it is a valuable asset and every staff member has a responsibility to project the qualities associated to the logo. This is the single concept which drives the understanding of the GT Bank brand. It is the one word that best personifies the behaviour as well as the products and services offered by the bank - the summation of GT Bank Brand Muscles.

However, the qualities represented by the company logo are limited to its relationship with the general public, it does not translate to the bank`s relationship with its employees and their welfare. There is a large distinction between the different levels within the organisation. For instance, in the C&T department, the operators have no relationship with the Cash officer. The Officer gives instructions which are expected to be carried out without any lower staff consideration or input. Another instance is the general rule that prohibits a junior staff from being seen in possession of the same quality of vehicle or business attire as the members of the senior staff. In addition, junior staff members are not permitted to attend to high status clients even when they are requested by such clients. Though the GT Bank logo symbolises uniqueness, progression, success, relationships and life, the management style within the organisation can best be described as autocratic.

Mission Statement

The mission statement of GT Bank reads as follows: "We are a team driven to deliver the utmost in customer services. We are synonymous with innovation, building excellence and superior financial performance; and creating role models for society" ( From a radical humanist perspective, GT Bank's mission statement can be described as profit oriented and devoid of employee satisfaction or consideration. So, the primary concern of the management is profit-making and little or no attention is given to ensuring the welfare of its employees. The customer is given the utmost priority often at the expense of employees, who are severely reprimanded for any customer complaints whether they are proven valid or not.


Brown (1998) explains basic assumptions as the profound assumptions people adopt which lead to their understanding, perception and feelings about things. According to Schein (1985) assumptions and belief makes the basis of an organisation's culture. Rollison (2002) advises that this level is not easily identifiable because they are at an unconscious level. However, once identified it provides understanding from the beginning of values and beliefs. As a Radical Humanist and with experience this bank has helped me to identify some of the assumptions, values and the reasons why some things happen in the way they happen.

There are a number of prevalent assumptions within the C&T department of GT Bank that have formed the basis of the organisation's culture. Some of the assumptions include the view that competition among employees enhances overall productivity and that good customer service is the only way to ensure customer loyalty. A good example of the first assumption is the fact that employees within the bank are usually assigned the same target clients in the market. This results in intense rivalry amongst employees as they compete to cultivate the same clients. The assumption is that intense competition is the only way to achieve aggressive marketing to give GT Bank a competitive edge within the financial market. As a radical humanist, this process is absolutely dehumanising. A case in point would be when a colleague cunningly scooped a prospective client that I was actively invested in bringing to the bank. I brought the issue to the attention of the management with the assumption that my colleague would be advised against such behaviour in the future. Instead, I was informed that I had to do everything to retain my clients and keep them from being lured away by my colleagues. The management further explained that in this era of high competition only the fittest will survive and be rewarded. The intense competitive atmosphere has pushed employees to the extreme in their bid to win prospective clients for the bank including offering sexual favours to these clients to ensure their loyalty to the bank. Though the bank is well aware of these practices, they are generally ignored and informally accepted. This shows carelessness on the part of the bank with regards to its employees' welfare and overall well-being. Hancock and Tyler (2001) points out that the responsibility of a leader is about the management of feeling and exclusive of the management of meaning.


Hatch (1997) defines values as collective beliefs, aims, and principles adopted within a culture to have essential value. This is very important for analysing cultures in organisations because values comprise of justifications for people's behaviour (Rollinson, 2002).

Transparency, honesty, openness, professionalism, customer satisfaction and corporate governance are the core values of GT Bank. From the Radical Humanist perspective, GT Bank provides the best customer service experience at the expense of its employees. Although the bank wins awards annually, it fails to recognise the role its employees play or to adequately reward them for their services and their overall contribution to the bank's success. The employees are required to offer their comfort, emotional health and leisure time in satisfying customer needs. Hoschild (1983) rightly argues that organisations have traded human feelings for competitive gains. Staffs are made to work very hard at salaries that fall well below the expected or promise rates offered at the beginning of their employment.


In summary, it can be seen that the C&T department of GT Bank has carried out its operations without consideration of its employees. The department can b accurately described as strictly profit oriented with little or no regard to its employees' welfare and satisfaction. However, this situation is not unique to GT Bank as it is a fairly popular culture among banks in general. According to Kemp and Dwyer (2001) strong cultures have a higher influence on employee's conduct and can cause decline in productivity. This influence is evident in the high rate of turnover experienced by the Cash & Teller department of GT Bank.


This research is limited in scope as it is solely based on the observations of one individual.

According to Ghauri & Gronhaug (2005) this can be described as a biased analysis. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain if this view fairly analyses the chosen organisation or if the adherence to a single paradigm might have affected the results of the research. Jackson and Carter (2000) that says a major limitation of Burrell and Morgan Model is the incommensurability of paradigms.

Future research will employ the use of more than one observation and other qualitative research tools to ensure the validity of the results.