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Organisational Theory

In: Business and Management

Submitted By sheenaphua
Words 3094
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Organization theory is the study of organizations to identify problem solving technics, increase productivity and achieving the goals of stakeholders. There are four perspectives of organization theory namely modern, symbolic-interpretive, critical and postmodern perspectives. In this essay, we will look into organizations from a modern and critical perspective and through it; develop an in-depth understanding of a detailed analysis on how power, control and resistance play a part in an organization. In comparison to the two chosen perspectives, we will spot its similarities and differences by doing a compare and contrast analysis. The fundamentals of this will help us apply the perspectives and theory to Apple and its organizational environment.
Theoretical Framework
In order for us to do a comparison of the perspectives, we need to study the differences between epistemology and ontology to help us understand the modernism ways better. Ontology is concerned with what we perceived reality to be. Our assumption will decide on the subjects to be treated as real while disregarding others. These assumptions on whether or not a particular phenomenon exists or if it is just an illusion stirs debates between those who have conflicting perspectives. On the other hand, epistemology is concerned with knowledge that we are able to attain. The answers an epistemologist would want to derive from are are: how we as humans obtain the knowledge, how we differentiate between knowledge that is good and bad and how reality should be explained. Epistemology is directly linked to ontology as the answers derived from these questions are dependent on the ontology perceptions of what they deem reality to be. To a modernist, ontology is described as objectivism- The belief that existence of reality depends on those who are living in it. People respond to their surroundings in predictable ways as their behavior is judged by purposes in the reality they live in. Whereas the modernists believe epistemology is described as positivism- The assumption that truths can be discovered through the measures of science to deduce how people and systems respond in situations. They also perceived that through language, it can illustrate reality. To them, they consider good knowledge as being obtained by factual hypothesis, accumulating and studying data, and test the hypothesis against the real world to conclude if their judgment was right. By doing so, modernists can establish theoretical explanations on different perspectives and make conjectures on futuristic views (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006).

The Modernist Perspective

From a modernist perspective, the focus in organizational theory is to explore universal laws, methods of organizing and controlling; apply rational structures, rules and standard procedures so as to achieve success of an organization (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006). Based on this theory it guides us on how power, control and resistance are perceived.
Modernist view power as an ability to authorize a person to do something they would not otherwise do (Dahl 1957). In any case, there are many other forms of obtaining significant power; some of which includes personal charisma, expertise in related field, coercion and control of raw materials. Individuals develop power by using the strategic contingency theory and that is to tackle uncertainties in the organization (Crozier 2010). As such, this theory means as best as a unit is in entangling negative uncertainties for the organization, the more power it holds. On the other hand, the resource dependency theory is an elaboration of the strategic contingency theory in overcoming uncertainties by manipulation of resources, hence having a reward system of being given larger budgets, more resources and higher positions. The politics behind this gives rise to acquired power (Pfeffer & Salancik 1978). Judging from the two theories, it demonstrates the aim of power development as a control tool to promote efficiency in an organization.

Modernist believes in three control theories that will be discussed shortly. They are namely the cybernetic model, agency and clan theories. All three theories share the same purpose to control and maximize the output levels in an organization. However, they differ in the region and mode of control. In the context of the cybernetic model, it targets to identify the differences between individuals and make adjustments for them in accordance to the requirements needed to achieve organizational goals (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006). This model is a reflection of the modernist view to operate an organization, as their ideas are dependent on mathematical and scientific measures that do not include emotions and human relations. Subsequently, the next theory is the agency theory that helps counter concerns that managers do not act in the best interest of the organization. To solve this issue, job contracts are tailored with specific organizational goals and practices through the benefit of incentives to manipulate managers so that they behave in such that it favors the organization (Eisenhardt 1985). Last but not least, another control theory modernists suggests is to enact clans thought cultural values, norms and expectations that drives individuals to perform up to desired levels of cooperation needed in an organization.

Therefore, we can deduce that in an internal organization structure, power is the root to establishing controls and resistance is formed as a result of control that the organization has over its people. Thus, from a modernist ideology, resistance inherits tension that hinders productivity (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006).

The Critical Theorists Perspective

To know how organizations work from a critical perspective, we must first understand that the reason critical thinking existed is due to skepticism of the modernist motives and questions the modernistic way of bureaucratic manipulation. A critical approach will be concerned with challenging conjectures with its ways of perspectives, understanding and executing (Alvesson and Deetz 2000). Subsequently, there is a vast difference in comparison of modernist and critical theories on power and control. Modernist theorists are more interested in developing the use of power to amplify benefits in an organization while critical theorists are more concerned in going against the modernist perspectives and seek to establish a humanistic and ethical way for power and control to be distributed in organizations (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006).

Critical theorists believe that dominated groups submit to power by consenting to exploitation are because of numerous reasons. Marx (1970) believes that exploitation was resulted from opposing forces of capital and labor. Gramsi (1971) suggested that hegemony was a way owners maintain power and wealth. He believes that groups allow domination because institutional ways of domination has formed part of their daily routine lives. Manipulation of social and cultural practices shape the workers desires and actions such that they are actually beneficial to the organization and also through manipulation of social pressure, oppressing the freedom of groups to voice out their opinions is a way of rising to power (Lukes 2005).

This theory shows how modernist dictates control over labor. Based on the labor process theory, the production process is simplified to an extent that very little training is needed and thus so creating a significant decrease of expertise but it also means that workers who put up with resistance are easily replaced by managers (Braverman 1974). At the same time, deskilling workers can help managers cut labor cost and continue exploiting and degrading them that results in optimizing their profits that leads to greater efficiency.

Hence, in order to achieve workplace democracy, critical theorists support the following model in which groups will be freed from domination and concentration of power will be redistributed back from the owners to the workers. Deetz (1992) prescribed balanced responsiveness and open communication as a way of tackling domination over the workers. Another way critical theorists suggest is letting workers gain ownership and control over their own efforts rather than letting owners reap all the benefits in an organization. Ultimately, this leads to meeting the objective of a critical perspective of workplace democracy.

Overview of Apple

Apple is a global success and a worldwide phenomenon. It created a world unimaginable without Apple. In 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne founded Apple and have since enriched the lives of many by its iconic products like the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Macbook. Today, many school institutions, companies and households around the world have incorporated the use Apple products supported with its IOS system as part of their everyday lives. Apple is now a dominant market leader in tech-gadgets and has opened more than 300 stores worldwide and reported exceptionable figures of revenues and net profit in the previous year. More importantly, Apple has generated a distinctive reputation of a strong customer base that is vital in understanding Apple. With its growing success, people have come together to analyze the different perspectives of Apple as an organization.

The modernist argument

Apple is undoubtedly an extremely profit-making organization (Channel Insider 2012). We will look into the modernist view on organizations and their environment and discuss how Apple’s behavior resulted in the modernist claim that Apple is a role model to other companies so that they can learn from its success.

There are many factors that modernists contribute to Apple’s success. For instance, one of the main reasons why Apple could captivate and preserve many of the world’s best experts in their field is due to the company’s winning culture that surmounts the company’s boundaries to design an enterprise value exceeding most population outstanding employee benefits. Also, Apple possess a mystique about it that is so intriguing hence, many are drawn to be part of it (Lashinsky 2012). Once people step foot at Apple, they are very passionate about their job hence creating a dependency environment for employee commitment and drive. In the resource dependency theory, an organization is susceptible to its environment depending on the availability of inputs and outputs (Pfeffer and Salancik 1978).

The priority on hiring the brightest people and designing an organizational culture that employees are proud to belong is one way Apple develops counter-dependencies upon its environment. Another way Apple creates counter-dependencies can be reflected in their marketing and media influences by endorsing celebrity Justin Long, with the famous line “Hi, I’m a Mac”, portraying all that was good about the Apple computer. endorsements. Also, Apple endorsed American film actor, Martin Scorsese, to promote the Siri function in the iPhone 4s (Ian Kar 2012). Furthermore, Apple’s marketing strategy capitalizes on the element of secrecy, keeping its innovation under wraps by hiding its products and practices from competitors and the rest of the outside world (Lashinshy 2012). This smart move created heated debates and anticipation among eager consumers especially before the launch of a new product.

Besides having the brightest people in their chosen field, Apple also places specific emphasis on employing only world class “A” players engineers and recognizing their talent by giving them special incentives like offering them unlimited vacation in order to have an edge over fighting for talents with its competitors (MacMillan 2012).

The relationship between Apple and its environment is reflected upon the end users and suppliers through its highly sought-after products. The statistics in sales prove that Apple is very successful.

Hannan & Freeman (1977) states that population ecology is the conjecture that organizations are dependent on their environment for the resources they need to operate. While resource dependency theory is based on the view point of the organization, population ecology is based on the level of the environment and is interested in the success and failures of its competitors within a resource field. Apple has a handful of outstanding designers that its competitors like Samsung and google are fighting for. Apple’s unique and innovative designs exert pressure onto its competitors to not imitate but out-design its essence of originality. To put on a fight with Apple, its competitors has to extensively be in search of highly ingenious designers that will invent new, creative and better looking designs (Carani 2012).

No doubt the environment has power over Apple, it can also be the case that it is vice versa. The impact Apple has over the world has influenced many end consumers to be Apple fanatics. There was a recent news article in CNET (Lowensohn 2012) over the release of the iPhone 4s where fans bought astounding figures of the product by the millions. iPads were also snagged quickly in record breaking numbers. The spectacular product features that Apple has to offer has lured and captured the hearts of many around the world. The dependence people have over Apple is evident to show how Apple too, has a large volume of power and support over the environment
According to Burns and Stalker (1961), they stated that in the environmental contingency theory that the construction of an organization internal structure and how compatible it is with environment contributes to its success. Hence, Apple relates best to its environment through adhocracy. Mintzberg (1979) theorized adhocracy whereby its organization structure functions as a dynamic environment as such; experts work in specialized agreements to produce ingenious products and support is not granted for an environment working under hierarchy and dominated control. Unlike conventional organization structures, Apple follows a flat functional structure where everyone is hired only for their specific specialties on the field.

Therefore, the resource dependency theory, population ecology theory and environmental contingency theory on how they relate to the environment is evident that supports the modernists claim of Apple being a role model company.

The critical argument

Here we will discuss the critical theory’s view on Apple and its environment. The critical theorist argues that the manner in which Apple use resource dependency theory to exert power over its environment is inhumane. While the modernist claims that Apple does not operate in a conventional structure, it masks behind the compulsion of dominating industry practices. What is found to be perplexing is how these practices violated Apple’s code of conducts which were uncompelled and self-imposed (Prakash 2012). Apple’s code of conduct states that working conditions in Apple’s supply chain are safe, that workers are treated with dignity and respect, and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible. Having this is essential to protect the interest of factory workers from being treaty unjust and providing a safe work environment. No doubt, Apple has become one of the most influential and successful organizations in the world in areas such as global manufacturing. However, the production line operates in harsh labor conditions. Employees are made to do overtime and their health was disregarded. In fact, it was reported that China workers got injured after being ordered to clean iPhone screens with a poisonous chemical and hazardous waste is irresponsibly disposed (Duhigg & Barboza 2012). In sum, Apple is simply another capitalist organization and it is no difference from its competitors since it is using dominating and exploiting methods of market power for the sole benefit of the company and its investors (Prakash 2012). This supports the critical theorist’s argument that Apple is yet another organization that sought to achieve profits maximizing while neglecting the human rights and freedom as it claims to be.


This essay provides an insight of modernist and critical perspectives of power, control and resistance. Also we have come to understand that despite using the same topic discussion, their views are found to be very conflicting. The modernist aims to develop power for the good and success of the organization; and conflict is perceived as a negative element that ought to be overthrown. Whereas from the critical perspective, they exhibit distrust in the modernists modes of theorizing therefore seek to challenge and demolish the control capitalists have over the workers, so as to achieve democracy and well-distributed power in an organization. Therefore, the two perspectives and theories discussed help us interpret and better understand Apple as an organization and its environment. In this essay we have developed a claim with hard evidence to support that Apple is a role model company and its success should be used as an example to other companies
Word Count: 2623 words


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Lashinsky, A 2012, Inside Apple: America’s Most Admired- and Secretive- Company Really Works, International edition, Hachette Book Group Inc, New York.

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Link Between Organisational Theory and Managerial Practice

... The Contributions of Management Theory and Practice to Emergency Management John C. Pine is the Director of the Disaster Science and Management, Professor-Research with the Department of Environmental Studies and Interim Chair of the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. (225) 578-1075 Email: httt:// Abstract This chapter takes a look at the impact that management theory and how the basic functions and practice of management as well as the role of the manager and approaches to management have contributed to the practice of emergency management. Current views of management theory stress the changing nature of the external environment and the need to understand and address these external forces for change. The contribution and role of systems theory and contingency theory to the emergency management process is stressed. Although some might view that we do not manage disasters, there is an overlap between the contribution of management theory and emergency management. Management theory stresses the need for effective planning to ensure that organizational goals are obtained. Emergency and crisis management emphasize that effective emergency response and recovery is based on good planning. Building sustainable organizations and communities is a common goal of both management and emergency management. Management and disaster-related issues and concerns along with strategies to......

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