Within this essay I shall critically analyse different ways of perceiving and observing organizations. I shall interpret different theories, images and metaphors in order to convey a more complete and balanced argument and to understand what affects different peoples' behaviour within an organization. This research will ultimately aid me to conclude why it is important to study this in order to maximize an organization's health. The essay consists of two very common metaphors associated with organizations: the mechanic and the organismic metaphor. Whilst analyzing these different ways of seeing, I shall convey different management theories associated with them to help me fully understand the different perspectives. The main part of the essay resides in the understanding of organizational images, which I will finally conclude their relevance to the reason why it is important to learn this topic as a future manager.
Organizational behaviour transmits the 'actions and attitudes of individuals and groups towards one another and towards the organization as a whole, and its effects on the organization's functioning and performance' (Buchanan, 2006). Having put this, I will analyze via different theories, what contributes to different individuals actions within an organization.
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'All theories of organization and management are based on implicit images and metaphors that persuade us to see, understand, and imagine situations in partial ways'. Metaphors are used to comprehend different concepts in significant ways. An organization as a social unit deserves being taken into consideration to find its different dimensions for defining appropriate strategies and applying them efficiently to achieve organizational objectives efficiently. Therefore, metaphors will aid one to understand all different aspects within an organization. 'Metaphor analysis is useful in charting and gauging the health of business organizations, facilitating development by fostering the formula of a certain metaphor, and describing the organization to an outsider' (Brink, 1933).
'Organizations as machines' is a very common metaphor associated with organizations. This image ultimately establishes the development of bureaucratic organization. Because almost all organizations' target is to make a profit, they are designed to fulfill that matter only. Each part has a specific role in the functioning of the organization. Even in areas where personal interactions are needed, can one view a somewhat robotic behaviour from employees. Workers are trained to interact with customers, following a specific set of rules/instructions. It can be observed in an employee's behavior towards a customer a very friendly approach. A casual smile or greeting is part of that employee's set of rules in that organization with the intention to maximize customers' satisfaction. According to Gareth Morgan, 'The management observation to monitor employee performance indicates the degree to which a simple task like serving a customer can be mechanized, observed, and evaluated in a mechanical way' (Morgan, 1997). The bureaucratization and routinization of work has proved to be very effective. Nevertheless, this does not apply to all organizations. It can be said that bureaucracy is very effective with non-changing environment organizations, where the tasks to be performed are straightforward and systematic.
Frederick Taylor was an American engineer known for having developed a methodology, the so called 'Scientific Management'. He put forward the idea of five principles which basically state that workers are merely motivated by money. Therefore he thought that piece-rate pay would be the most efficient method not only to increase productivity, but also because the fact that production increases will lead to a reduction in costs, ultimately leading to a greater profit. Hence both parties would benefit from this. He also stated that all the thinking in the organization should be done merely by managers and not workers. In addition, all employees should be trained to maximize efficiency, and that there performance should be monitored and evaluated in order to ensure that all work is done accordingly and correctly to increase output results.
The McDonald's restaurant is an excellent example of this, as it condenses a stable and non-changing environment and where the products are produced within an equal and linear manner. 'The firm has built a solid reputation for excellent performance in the fast-food industry by mechanizing the organization of all its franchise outlets all over the world so that each can produce a uniform product' (Morgan, 1997).
'Organizations as organisms' is another perspective of organizations. This metaphor focuses on biological analysis rather than mechanical science like the previous metaphor. It is crucial to study and understand various different ways and perspectives of analyzing organizations. The more theories you have and understand, the more you will be able of identifying organizational needs, and thus learning how to maximize an organization's potential.
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Perceiving organizations as organisms encourages a stronger external focus. It can be said that organisms are responsive and adapt to a changing environment contradicting the mechanistic perspective, which in turn contradicts bureaucratic management. This way of seeing conducts an approach to organizational needs, which in turn is reflected in the workers' needs making it important to mention different motivation theories.
Maslow's theory suggests that human beings have a hierarchy of needs. That is, that all humans act in a way which will address basic needs, before moving on to satisfy other, so-called higher level needs. The hierarchy is structured with five different needs: physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs and self-actualization. The physiological needs, being the initial needs having to be met in order to be satisfied and self-actualization the last. The first level includes the need for water, food and sleep. Maslow suggests that these are the most basic and instinctive needs in the hierarchy, thus all other needs become secondary before these are met. From a manager's perspective, it is very important that employees reach the last level of the hierarchy - self-actualization, which is when the workers are self-aware, concerned with personal growth and seek to maximize their personal potential, which ultimately will be reflected in the organization's performance. As all organizations' health and successfulness is determined by the workers performance to an extent, their needs become the organizations' needs as well 'the management of organizations can often be improved through systematic attention to the "needs" that must be satisfied if the organization is to survive' (Morgan, 1997: p 65).
The 'Hawthorne Effect' is the term used to describe Elton Mayo's series of experiments at the Hawthorne factory of the western electric company in Chicago. Unlike Taylor's theory, Elton Mayo believed that workers are not just motivated by money, but can also be motivated by having their social needs met. His experiment was based on two groups of workers, where each group worked within different lighting conditions. He expected work productivity to decline with dimmer lighting conditions, but however, productivity levels remained the same or improved. From this Mayo concluded that employees are best motivated by having better communication between the managers. During the experiment the workers were constantly consulted and had opportunity to give feedback. From these theories we must acknowledge that just like biological organisms, people operate more effectively when their needs are satisfied. Moreover, contradicting the mechanic metaphor, which focused primarily on organizational structures, goals and efficiency, the organism perspective of organizations conveys a much more democratic type of management, where workers needs are taken into account and where the changing environment is also acknowledged.
'Given the demanding nature of organizing and managing people, it is not surprising that organizational behaviour is widely regarded as the foundation of management studies' (Willmott, 2012). Clearly there are various different ways of observing organizations. The study of OB is essential to any manager's knowledge, as this topic provides numerous perspectives of organizations in different scenarios, portraying how organizations work best under different circumstances.
Via the mechanic metaphor, Morgan highlights how this condenses a bureaucratic approach towards management. This method has proved to be very effective with stable, non-changing environmental organizations such as McDonald's or the Hilton hotels for instance. Global standards and procedures are set out to all their franchises around the world in order for managers to run them effectively. The manner in which staff is recruited and trained is determined by these procedures. Furthermore, the set of rules and regulations which might include the way in which they have to treat their customers or how to organize the hierarchical structure have to be strictly followed. Both these organizations are ran like machines 'organization theory was locked into a form of engineering preoccupied with relations between goals, structures, and efficiency' (Morgan, 1997). This type of management focuses on input and output only and thus, being more internally focused, ignoring to an extent the exterior environment. Morgan states that this one of the basic problems of modern management as 'the mechanical way of thinking is so ingrained in our everyday conception of organizations that it is often difficult to organize in any other way' (Morgan, 1997).
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Contrasting this, the organismic metaphor centers more on the idea of adaption to its surrounding environment. It represents the organization as an open system. This way of seeing emphasizes the need to maximize individual and organizational needs. It suggests that if a manager learns his workers' different personalities and encourages psychological support by motivating them will always increase the organization's overall performance. Unlike the mechanic metaphor, this was of seeing is well adapted with a less structured organization, prone to have a changing environment.
To conclude, studying organizational behaviour will reinforce and allow an individual to look at organizations with an open mind and from various different perspectives, aiding one to have a better understanding of workers' behaviour effects on an organization. Understanding what effects and how these conclusively affect an organization is the key to success. Given the increasingly competitive environment in which we now live, this knowledge will help any manager to maintain and increase organizational performance by knowing how to cope within different stages of the organization.
Within this essay I analysed some of the ways of seeing organizations via metaphors. It can be said that metaphors are used to understand complex concepts in significant ways. However, metaphors are inherently paradoxical, as despite giving insight to a way of seeing they also distort 'in creating ways of seeing, they create ways of not seeing. Hence there can be no single theory or metaphor that gives an all-purpose point of view. There can be no 'correct theory' for structuring everything we do' (Morgan, 1997).
For this reason the study of OB is crucial for my future as a possible manager, as the acknowledgement of different organizational theories will play an important role in the determination of future management decision making. Furthermore, OB will aid me to predict human behaviour, and hence help me avoid bad decision making. This study conducts a series of discipline principles, which as a manager will assist me to define and apply appropriate strategies adequately. 'Effective managers and professionals in all walks of life have to become skilled in the art of "reading" the situations they are attempting to organize or manage' (Morgan, 1997).