Skorl ana LjLori                 onousUrcjaYLLzailonal
Cbarles Perrowrom the beginning, the forces of light and theforces of darkness have polarized the field oforganizational a...
sophistication it took longer to train people,     traits implied that leaders were made, not just    and more varied and ...
The first step was a search for the                                                   traits of good leadership. It went o...
firms should be temporary and decentralized.The forces of light, of freedom, autonomy,change, humanity, creativity, and de...
stances; job security promoted more innova-          (and what was left of the old scientific man-tion. The sins of bureau...
sources of information and established ideas;      ket changes, but engineering applications    that he was wont to remain...
version of the much maligned stimulus-            and noon to about 4 AJ^^. and 8 A.M. But anyresponse school) that was su...
This severely complicated tbings for     the human relations school, since it suggested     that openness and trust, while...
goals could be pursued simultaneously, if           goals, bargaining, and unofficial leadershipthere were enough slack re...
nebulous. But at least there is a model for call-                                                          ing us to accou...
We are also getting a grasp on the         known that for some time now, and beyond aquestion of what is the most critical...
smoothing the paths of human interaction.          dramatic as many of the solutions currently     What has rarely been st...
cal view—F. W. Taylor, Col. Urwick, and Henry         Inc. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1963. All three ofFayol—arc briefly dis...
Charles Perro
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Short and glorious history of Organizational theory

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Charles Perro

  1. 1. Skorl ana LjLori onousUrcjaYLLzailonal
  2. 2. Cbarles Perrowrom the beginning, the forces of light and theforces of darkness have polarized the field oforganizational analysis, and the struggle hasbeen protracted and inconclusive. The forcesof darkness have been represented by the me-chanical school of organizational theory—those who treat the organization as a machine.This school characterizes organizations interms o£ such things as: • centralized authority • clear lines of authority • specialization and expertise • marked division of labor • rules and regulations • clear separation of staff and Une The forces of light, which by mid-twentieth century came to be characterized as the human relations school, emphasizes people rather than machines, accommodations rather than machine-like precision, and draws its in- spiration from biological systems rather than engineering systems. It has emphasized such things as: • delegation of authority keep records, write down policies, specialize, • employee autonomy be decisive, and keep your span of control to • trust and openness about six people. These injunctions were • concerns with the "whole person" needed as firms grew in size and complexity, • interpersonal dynamics since there were few models around beyond the railroads, the military, and the Catholic Church to guide organizations. And their in-T H E R I S E AI-O) FALL OF junctions worked. Executives began to dele-SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT gate, reduce their span of control, keep records, and specialize. Planning ahead still is difficult,The forces of darkness formulated their posi- it seems, and the modern equivalent is Man-tion first, starting in the early part of this agement by Objectives.century. They have been characterized as the But many things intruded to makescientific management or classical manage- these simple-minded injunctions less relevant:ment school. This school started by parading 1. Labor became a more critical factorsimple-minded injunctions to plan ahead, in the firm. As the technology increased in
  3. 3. sophistication it took longer to train people, traits implied that leaders were made, not just and more varied and specialized skills were born, that the matter was complex, and that needed. Thus, labor turnover cost more and several skills were involved. recruitment became more selective. As a con- sequence, labors power increased. Unions and strikes appeared. Management adjusted by beginning to speak of a cooperative system of ENTER HUMAN RELATIONS capital, management, and labor. The machine model began to lose its relevancy. From the beginning, individual voices were raised against the implications of the scientific 2. The increasing complexity of mar- management school. "Bureaucracy" had al- kets, variability of products, increasing num- ways been a dirty word, and the job design ber of branch plants, and changes in technol- efforts of Frederick Taylor were even the sub- ogy all required more adaptive organization. ject of a congressional investigation. But no The scientific management school was ill- effective counterforce developed until 1938, equipped to deal with rapid change. It had when a business executive with academic tal- presumed that once the proper structure was ents named Chester Barnard proposed the first achieved the firm could run forever without new theory of organizations: Organizations much tampering. By the late 1930s, people be- are cooperative systems, not the products of gan writing about adaptation and change in mechanical engineering. He stressed natural industry from an organizational point of view groups within the organization, upward com- and had to abandon some of the principles of munication, authority from below rather than scientific management. from above, and leaders who functioned as a 3. Political, social, and cultural cohesive force. With the spectre of labor un- changes meant new expectations regarding rest and the Great Depression upon him, the proper way to treat people. The dark, Barnards emphasis on the cooperative nature Satanic mills needed at the least a white-wash- of organizations was well-timed. The year ing. Child labor and the brutality of supervi- following the publication of his Functions of sion in many enterprises became no longer the Executive (1938) saw the publication of permissible. Even managers could not be ex- F. J. Roethlisberger and William Dicksons pected to accept the authoritarian patterns of Management and the Worf^er, reporting on leadership that prevailed in the small firm run the first large-scale empirical investigation of by the founding father. productivity and social relations. The re- 4. As mergers and growth proceeded search, most of it conducted in the Hawthorne apace and the firm could no longer be viewed plant of the Western Electric Company dur- as the shadow of one man (the founding en- ing a period in which the workforce was re- trepreneur), a search for methods o£ selecting duced, highlighted the role of informal good leadership became a preoccupation. A groups, work restriction norms, the value of good, clear, mechanical structure would no decent, humane leadership, and the role of longer suffice. Instead, firms had to search for psychological manipulation of employees the qualities of leadership that could fill the through the counseling system. World War 11 large footsteps of the entrepreneur. They tac- intervened, but after the war the human re- itly had to admit that something other than lations movement, building on the insights either "sound principles" or "dynamic leader- of Barnard and the Hawthorne studies, came into its own.4 ship" was needed. The search for leadership
  4. 4. The first step was a search for the traits of good leadership. It went on furiously at university centers but at first failed to pro- duce more than a list of Boy Scout maxims: A good leader was kind, courteous, loyal, coura- geous, etc. We suspected as much. However, the studies did turn up a distinction between "consideration," or employee-centered aspects of leadership, and job-centered, technical as- pects labled "initiating structure." Both were important, but the former received most of the attention and the latter went undeveloped. The former led directly to an examination of group processes, an investigation that has culminated in T-group programs and isWhde Charles Perrows primary affiliation has moving forward still with encounter groups.been with sociology departments in a variety Meanwhile, in England, the Tavistock Insti-of Universities {Michigan. Pittsburgh, Wis-consin, and now, the State University o/ New tute sensed the importance of the influence ofYor){^ at Stony Broo), he has tempered his the kind of task a group had to perform on thetheorizing by also teaching in professional social relations within the group. The first im-schools at these universities. "Business stu- portant study, conducted among coal miners,dents want to i{riou> what difference theory showed that job simplification and specializa-makes, and it is a salutory discipline jor thesociologists," he notes. This resulted in a tion did not work under conditions of uncer-book^ for business managers. Organizational tainty and nonroutine tasks.Analysis: A Sociological View, in 1970. Hehas published three other boo^s dealing with As this work flourished and spread,organizations, as well as more than 20 schol- more adventurous theorists began to extend itarly articles. The present article has grown out beyond work groups to organizations as aof his recent volume. Complex Organizations; whole. We now knew that there were a num-A Critical Essay (1972). ber o£ things that were bad for the morale He has consulted with business, got/- and loyalty of groups—routine tasks, submis-einment and voluntary agencies {but very sion to authority, specialization of task, segre-modestly), spent a year at the Industrial Re-lations Institute in Berkeley and the Business gation of task sequence, ignorance of the goalsSchool there, in the year of the Peoples Parl^ of the firm, centralized decision making, andand the Cleaver demonstrations. Currently he so on. If these were bad for groups, they wereIS spending this year at the London Business likely to be bad for groups of groups—i.e.,School and is running two-day training ses- for organizations. So people like Warrensions on the structural analysis of organiza-tions for managers. He is also worthing with Bennis began talking about innovative, rap-some groups on the social responsibilities of idly changing organizations that were madebusiness. Professor Perrow is on the editorial up of temporary groups, temporary authorityboard of Administrative Science Quarterly systems, temporary leadership and role as-and the American Sociological Review. His signments, and democratic access to the goalsother hookas are The Radical Attack on Busi-ness, 1972, and Organization for Treatment, of the firm. If rapidly changing technologies1966, with D. Street and R. Vinter. and unstable, turbulent environments were to characterize industry, then the structure of 5
  5. 5. firms should be temporary and decentralized.The forces of light, of freedom, autonomy,change, humanity, creativity, and democracywere winning. Scientific management sur-vived only in outdated text books. If the evan-gelizing of some of the human relations schooltheorists was excessive, and if Likerts System4 or MacGregors Theory Y or Blakes 9 x 9evaded us, at least there was a rationale forconfusion, disorganization, scrambling, andstress: Systems should be temporary.BUREAUCRACYS COMEBACKMeanwhile, in another part of the manage-ment forest, the mechanistic school wasgathering its forces and preparing to outflankthe forces of light. First came the numbersmen—the linear programmers, the budget ex-perts, and the financial analysts—with theirPERT systems and cost-benefit analyses. clear lines of communication, clear specifica-From another world, unburdened by most of tions of authority and responsibility, and clearthe scientific management ideology and un- knowledge of whom they were responsible to.touched by the human relations school, they They were as wont to say "there ought to be abegan to parcel things out and give some rule about this," as to say "there are too manymeaning to those truisms, "plan ahead" and rules around here," as wont to say "next week"keep records." Armed with emerging sys- weve got to get organized," as to say "there istems concepts, they carried the "mechanistic" too much red tape." Gradually, studies begananalogy to its fullest—and it was very produc- to show that bureaucratic organizations couldtive. Their work still goes on, largely un- change faster than nonbureaucratic ones, andtroubled by organizational theory; the theory, that morale could be higher where there wasit seems clear, will have to adjust to them, clear evidence of bureaucracy.rather than the other way around. What was this thing, thcn.^ Weber Then the works of Max Weber, first had showed us, for example, that bureaucracytranslated from the German in the 1940s—he was the most effective way of ridding organ-wrote around 1910, incredibly—began to find izations of favoritism, arbitrary authority, dis-their way into social science thought. At first, crimination, payola and kick-backs, and yes,with his celebration of the efficiency of bu- even incompetence. His model stressed ex-reaucracy, he was received with only reluctant pertise, and the favorite or the boss nephewrespect, and even with hostility. All writers or the guy who burned up resources to makewere against bureaucracy. But it turned out, his performance look good was not the onesurprisingly, that managers were not. When with expertise. Rules could be changed; theyasked, they acknowledged that they preferred could be dropped in exceptional circum-
  6. 6. stances; job security promoted more innova- (and what was left of the old scientific man-tion. The sins of bureaucracy began to look agement school), for the impressive Weberianlike the sins of failing to follow its principles. principles were designed to settle questions of power through organizational design and to keep conflict out through reliance on rational-ENTER POWER, CONFLICT, AND DECISIONS legal authority and systems of careers, ex- pertise, and hierarchy. But power was being overtly contested and exercised in covertBut another discipline began to intrude upon ways, and conflict was bursting out all over,the confident work and increasingly elaborate and even being creative.models of the human relations theorists(largely social psychologists) and the uneasy Gradually, in the second half of thetoying with bureaucracy of the "structional- 1950s and in the next decade, the politicalists" (largely sociologists). Both tended to science view infiltrated both schools. Conflictstudy economic organizations. A few, like could be healthy, even in a cooperative sys-Philip Selznick, were noting conflict and dif- tem, said the human relationists; it was theferences in goals (perhaps because he was mode of resolution that counted, rather thanstudying a public agency, the Tennessee Valley prevention. Power became reconceptualizedAuthority), but most ignored conflict or as "influence," and the distribution was lesstreated it as a pathological manifestation of important, said Arnold Tannenbaum, thanbreakdowns in communication or the ego the total amount. For the bureaucratic schooltrips of unreconstructed managers. —never a clearly defined group of people, and largely without any clear ideology—it was But in the world of political parties, easier to just absorb the new data and theoriespressure groups, and legislative bodies, con- as something else to be thrown into the pot.flict was not only rampant, but to be expected That is to say, they floundered, writing books—it was even functional. This was the do- that went from topic to topic, without a clearmain of the political scientists. They kept talk- view of organizations, or better yet, produc-ing about power, making it a legitimate ing "readers" and leaving students to sort itconcern for analysis. There was an open ac- all out.knowledgement of "manipulation." Thesewere political scientists who were "behavior- Buried in the political science view-ally" inclined—studying and recording behav- point was a sleeper that only gradually beganior rather than constitutions and formal sys- to undermine the dominant views. This wastems of government—and they came to a much the idea, largely found in the work of Her-more complex view of organized activity. It bert Simon and James March, that becausespilled over into the area of economic organ- man was so limited—in intelligence, reason-izations, with the help of some economists ing powers, information at his disposal, timelike R. A. Gordon and some sociologists who available, and means of ordering his prefer-were studying conflicting goals of treatment ences clearly—he generally seized on the firstand custody in prisons and mental hospitals. acceptable alternative when deciding, rather The presence of legitimately conflict- than looking for the best; that he rarelying goals and techniques of preserving and changed things unless they really got bad, andusing power did not, of course, sit well with a even then he continued to try what hadcooperative systems view of organizations. worked before; that he limited his search forBut it also puzzled the bureaucratic school solutions to well-worn paths and traditional 7
  7. 7. sources of information and established ideas; ket changes, but engineering applications that he was wont to remain preoccupied with should), you may have to promote mediocre routine, thus preventing innovation. They people in the unrewarded function in order called these characteristics "cognitive limits to signal to the good people in the rewarded on rationality" and spoke of "satisficing" one that the game has changed. You cannot rather than maximizing or optimizing. It is expect most people to make such decision on now called the "decision making" school, and their own because of the cognitive limits on is concerned with the basic question of how their rationality, nor will you succeed by giv- people make decisions. ing direct orders, because you yourself proba- This view had some rather unusual bly do not know whom to order where. You implications. It suggested that if managers presume that once the signals are clear and were so limited, then they could be easily con- the new sets of alternatives are manifest, trolled. What was necessary was not to give they have enough ability to make the decision direct orders (on the assumption that subor- but you have had to change the premises for dinates were idiots without expertise) or to their decisions about their career lines. leave them to their own devices (on the as- It would take too long to go through sumption that they were supermen who the dozen or so devices, covering a range of would somehow know what was best for the deciston areas (March and Simon are not that organization, how to coordinate with all the clear or systematic about them, themselves, so other supermen, how to anticipate market I have summarized them in my own book), changes, etc.). It was necessary to control only but I think the message is clear. the premises of their decisions. Left to them- It was becoming clear to the human selves, with those premises set, they could be relations school, and to the bureaucratic predicted to rely on precedent, keep things school. The human relationists had begun to stable and smooth, and respond to signals that speak of changing stimuli rather than chang- reinforce the behavior desired of them. ing personality. They had begun to see that To control the premises of decision the rewards that can change behavior can well making, March and Simon outline a variety be prestige, money, comfort, etc., rather than of devices, all of which are familiar to you, trust, openness, self-insight, and so on. The but some of which you may not have seen be- alternative to supportive relations need not fore in quite this light. For example, organ- be punishment, since behavior can best be izations develop vocabularies, and this means changed by rewarding approved behavior that certain kinds of information are high- rather than by punishing disapproved behav- lighted, and others are screened out—just as ior. They were finding that although leader- • Eskimos (and skiers) distinguish many va- ship may be centralized, it can function best rieties of snow, while Londoners see only one. through indirect and unobtrusive means such This is a form of attention directing. Another as changing the premises on which decisions is the reward system. Change the bonus for are made, thus giving the impression that the salesmen and you can shift them from volume subordinate is actually making a decision selling to steady-account selling, or to selling when he has only been switched to a differ- quality products or new products. If you want ent set of alternatives. The implications of to channel good people into a different func- this work were also beginning to filter into tion (because, for example, sales should no the human relations school through an em-8 longer be the critical function as the mar- phasis on behavioral psychology (the modern
  8. 8. version of the much maligned stimulus- and noon to about 4 AJ^^. and 8 A.M. But anyresponse school) that was supplanting per- convergence or resolution would have to besonality theory (Freudian in its roots, and on yet new terms, for soon after the politicaldrawing heavily, in the human relations science tradition had begun to infiltrate theschool, on Maslow). established schools, another blow struck both For the bureaucratic school, this new of the major positions. Working quite inde-line of thought reduced the heavy weight pendently of the Tavistock Group, with itsplaced upon the bony structure of bureaucracy emphasis on sociotechnical systems, and be-by highlighting the muscle and flesh that fore the work of Burns and Stalker on mech-make these bones move. A single chain of anistic and organic firms, Joan Woodwardcommand, precise division of labor, and clear was trying to see whether the classical scien-lines of communication are simply not tific principles of organization made any senseenough in themselves. Control can be in her survey of 100 firms in South Essex. Sheachieved by using alternative communication tripped and stumbled over a piece of gold inchannels, depending on the situation; by in- the process. She picked up the gold, labeled itcreasing or decreasing the static or "noise" in "technology," and made sense out of herthe system; by creating organizational myths otherwise hopeless data. Job-shop firms, mass-and organizational vocabularies that allow production firms, and continuous-processonly selective bits of information to enter the firms all had quite different structures becausesystem; and through monitoring performance the type of tasks, or the "technology," was dif-through indirect means rather than direct sur- ferent. Somewhat later, researchers in Amer-veillance. Weber was all right for a starter, ica were coming to very similar conclusionsbut organizations had changed vastly, and based on studies of hospitals, juvenile correc-the leaders needed many more means of con- tional institutions, and industrial firms. Bu-trol and more subtle means of manipulation reaucracy appeared to be the best form of or-than they did at the turn of the century. ganization for routine operations; temporary work groups, decentralization, and emphasis on interpersonal processes appeared to work best for nonroutine operations. A raft of stud-T H E TECHNOLOGICAL QUALIFICATION ies appeared and are still appearing, all trying to show how the nature of the task aflects theBy now the forces of darkness and forces of structure of the organization.light had moved respectively from midnight alternative to supportive relations neednot be punishment, since behavior can best bechanged by rewarding approved behavior ratherthan by punishing disapproved behavior/
  9. 9. This severely complicated tbings for the human relations school, since it suggested that openness and trust, while good things in themselves, did not have much impact, or per- haps were not even possible in some kinds of work situations. The prescriptions tbat were being handed out would have to be drastically qualified. What might work for nonroutine, high-status, interesting, and challenging jobs performed by highly educated people might not be relevant or even beneficial for the vast majority of jobs and people. It also forced the upholders of the revised bureaucratic theory to qualify their recommendations, since research and develop- ment units should obviously be run differ- ently from mass-production units, and the difference between both of these and highly programmed and highly sophisticated con- tinuous-process firms was obscure in terms of bureaucratic theory. But the bureaucratic school perhaps came out on top, because tbe forces o£ evil—authority, structure, division of reaucratic nor nonroutine. They also noted labor, etc.—no longer looked evil, even i£ tbat attempts at participative management in they were not applicable to a minority of in- routine situations were counterproductive, dustrial units. that the environments of some kinds of or- ganizations were far from turbulent and cus- The emphasis on tecbnology raised tomers did not want innovations and changes, otber questions, however. A can company that cost reduction, price, and efficiency were might be quite routine, and a plastics division trivial considerations in some firms, and so on. nonroutine, but there were both routine and The technological insight was demolishing nonroutine units within each. How should our comfortable truths right and left. They they be integrated if the prescription were were also being questioned from another followed tbat, say, production sbould be bu- quarter. reaucratized and R&D not? James Thompson began spelling out different forms of interde- pendence among units in organizations, and ENTER GOALS, ENVIRONMENTS, AND SYSTEMS Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch looked closely at the nature of integrating mechanisms. Law- The final seam was being mined by the so- rence and Lorsch found that firms performed ciologists while all this went on. This was the best when the differences between units were concern with organizational goals and the en- maximized (in contrast to both the human vironment. Borrowing from the political relations and the bureaucratic school), as long scientists to some extent, but pushing ahead as the integrating mechanisms stood half-way on their own, this "institutional school" came10 between the two—being neither strongly bu- to sec that goals were not fixed; conflicting
  10. 10. goals could be pursued simultaneously, if goals, bargaining, and unofficial leadershipthere were enough slack resources, or sequen- exists, where is the structure of Weberiantially (growth for the next four years, then bones and Simonian muscle? To what extentcost-cutting and profit-taking for the next are organizations tools, and to what extent arefour); that goals were up for grabs in organ- they products of the varied interests andizations, and units fought over them. Goals group strivings of their members. Does itwere, of course, not what they seemed to be, vary by organization, in terms of some typo-the important ones were quite unofficial; his- logical alchemy we have not discovered. Wetory played a big role; and assuming profit as dont know. But at any rate, the bureaucraticthe pre-eminent goal explained almost nothing model suffers again; it simply has not reck-about a firms behavior. oned on the role of the environment. There They also did case studies that linked are enormous sources of variations that the the organization to the web of influence of neat, though by now quite complex, neo-the environment; that showed how unique or- Weberian model could not account for.ganizations were in many respects (so that, Tbe human relations model has alsoonce again, there was no one best way to do been badly shaken by the findings of the in-things for all organizations); how organiza- stitutional school, for it was wont to assumetions were embedded in their own history, that goals were given and unproblematical,making change difficult. Most striking of all, and that anything that promoted harmonyperhaps, the case studies revealed that the and efficiency for an organization also wasstated goals usually were not the real ones; good for society. Human relationists as-the official leaders usually were not the power- sumed that the problems created by organiza-ful ones; claims of effectiveness and efficiency tions were largely limited to the psychologicalwere deceptive or even untrue; the public in- consequences of poor interpersonal rela-terest was not being served; political influ- tions within them, rather than their impactences were pervasive; favoritism, discrimina- on the environment. Could the organizationtion, and sheer corruption were commonplace. really promote the psychological health of itsThe accumulation of these studies presented members when by necessity it had to definequite a pill for either the forces of light or psychological health in terms of the goals ofdarkness to swallow, since it was hard to see the organization itself. The neo-Weberianhow training sessions or interpersonal skills model at least called manipulation "manipu-were relevant to these problems, and it was lation" and was skeptical of claims about au-also clear that the vaunted efficiency of bu- tonomy and self-realization.reaucracy was hardly in evidence. What could But on one thing all the variedthey make of this wad of case studies. schools of organizational analysis now seemed We are still sorting it out. In one to be agreed: organizations are systems—in-sense, the Weberian model is upheld because deed, they are open systems. As the growthorganizations are not, by nature, cooperative of the field has forced ever more variablessystems; top managers must exercise a great into our consciousness, flat claims of predic-deal of effort to control them. But if organiza- tive power are beginning to decrease and re-tions are tools in the hands of leaders, they search has become bewilderingly complex.may be very recalcitrant ones. Like the broom Even consulting groups need more than onein the story of the sorcerers apprentice, they or two tools in their kit-bag as the softwareoccasionally get out of hand. If conflicting multiplies.
  11. 11. nebulous. But at least there is a model for call- ing us to account and for stretching our minds, our research tools, and our troubled nostrums. SOME CONCLUSIONS Where does all this leave us} We might sum- marize the prescriptions and proscriptions for management very roughly as follows: 1. A great deal of the "variance" in a firms behavior depends on the environment. We have become more realistic about the lim- ited range of change that can be induced through internal efforts. The goals of organi- zations, including those of profit and effi- ciency, vary greatly among industries and vary systematically by industries. This sug- The systems view is intuitively sim- gests that the impact of better management ple. Everything is related to everything else, by itself will be limited, since so much will though in uneven degrees of tension and depend on market forces, competition, legisla- reciprocity. Every unit, organization, depart- tion, nature of the work force, available tech- ment, or work group takes in resources, nologies and innovations, and so on. An- transforms them, and sends them out, and other source of variation is, obviously, the thus interacts with the larger system. The psy- history of the firm and its industry and its chological, sociological, and cultural aspects of traditions. units interact. The systems view was explicit 2. A fair amount of variation in both in the institutional work, since they tried firms and industries is due to the type of work to study whole organizations; it became ex- done in the organization—the technology. plicit in the human relations school, because We are now fairly confident in recommend- they were so concerned with the interactions ing that if work is predictable and routine, of people. The political science and tech- the necessary arrangement for getting the nology viewpoints also had to come to this work done can be highly structured, and one realization, since they dealt with parts affect- can use a good deal of bureaucratic theory in ing each other (sales affecting production; accomplishing this. If it is not predictable, if technology affecting structure). it is nonroutinc and there is a good deal of un- But as intuitively simple as it is, the certainty as to how to do a job, then one had systems view has been difficult to put into better utilize the theories that emphasize practical use. We still Hnd ourselves ignoring autonomy, temporary groups, multiple lines the tenets of the open systems view, possibly of authority and communications, and so on. because of the cognitive limits on our rational- We also know that this distinction is impor- ity. General systems theory itself has not lived tant when organizing different parts of an or-12 up to its heady predictions; it remains rather ganization.
  12. 12. We are also getting a grasp on the known that for some time now, and beyond aquestion of what is the most critical function minimal threshold level, the payoff is hard toin different types of organizations. For some measure. The various attempts to make workorganizations it is production; for others, and interpersonal relations more humane andmarketing; for still others, development. Fur- stimulating should be applauded, but wethermore, firms go through phases whereby should not confuse this with solving problemsthe initial development of a market or a prod- of structure, or as the equivalent of decentrali-uct or manufacturing process or accounting zation or participatory democracy.scheme may require a non-bureaucratic struc- 4. The burning cry in all organiza-ture, but once it comes on stream, the struc- tions is for "good leadership," but we haveture should change to reflect the changed learned that beyond a threshold level of ade-character of the work. quacy it is extremely difficult to know what 3. In keeping with this, management good leadership is. The hundreds of scientificshould be advised that the attempt to produce studies of this phenomenon come to one gen-change in an organization through manage- eral conclusion: Leadership is highly variablerial grids, sensitivity training, and even job en- or "contingent" upon a large variety of im-richment and job enlargement is likely to be portant variables such as nature of task, sizefairly ineffective for all but a few organiza- of the group, length of time the group hastions. The critical reviews of research in all existed, type of personnel within the groupthese fields show that there is no scientific and their relationships with each other, andevidence to support the claims of the propo- amount of pressure the group is under. It docsnents of these various methods; that research not seem likely that well be able to devise ahas told us a great deal about social psychol- way to select the best leader for a particularogy, but little about how to apply the highly situation. Even if we could, that situationcomplex findings to actual situations. The key would probably change in a short time andword is selectivity: We have no broad-spec- thus would require a somewhat different typetrum antibiotics for interpersonal relations. Of of leader.course, managers should be sensitive, decent, Furthermore, we are beginning tokind, courteous, and courageous, but we have realize that leadership involves more thanThe burning cry in all organizations is forgood leadership/ but we have learned thatbeyond a threshold level of adequacy it isextremely difficult to know what goodleadership is/ 13
  13. 13. smoothing the paths of human interaction. dramatic as many of the solutions currently What has rarely been studied in this area is being peddled, but I think the weight of or- the wisdom or even the technical adequacy of ganizational theory is in its favor. a leaders decision. A leader does more than We have probably learned more, lead people; he also makes decisions about the over several decades of research and theory, allocation of resources, type of technology to about the things that do not work (even be used, the nature of the market, and so on. though some of them obviously should have This aspect of leadership remains very ob- worked), than we have about things that do scure, but it is obviously crucial. work. On balance, this is an important gain 5. If we cannot solve our problems and should not discourage us. As you know, through good human relations or through organizations are extremely complicated. To good leadership, what are we then left with? have as much knowledge as we do have in a The literature suggests that changing the fledgling discipline that has had to borrow structures of organizations might be the most from the diverse tools and concepts of psy- effective and certainly the quickest and cheap- chology, sociology, economics, engineering, est method. However, we are now sophisti- biology, history, and even anthropology is not cated enough to know that changing the for- really so bad. mal structure by itself is not likely to produce the desired changes. In addition, one must be aware of a large range of subtle, unobtrusive, and even covert processes and change de- vices that exist. If inspection procedures are not working, we are now unlikely to rush in with sensitivity training, nor would we send down authoritative communications telling SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY people to do a better job. We are more likely to find out where the authority really lies, This paper is an adaptation of the discussion to whether the degree of specialization is ade- be found in Charles Perrow, Complex Organiza- quate, what the rules and regulations are, and tions: A Critical Essay, Scott, Forcsman & Co., so on, but even this very likely will not be GlcnvJlle, Illinois, 1972. AU the points made in enough. this paper are discussed thoroughly in that vol- ume. According to the neo-Weberian bu- The best overview and discussion of clas- reaucratic model, as it has been influenced by sical management theory, and its changes over work on decision making and behavioral psy- time is by Joseph Massie—"Management Theory" chology, we should find out how to ma- in the Handbook^ of Organizations edited by nipulate the reward structure, change the James March, Rand McNally & Co., Chicago, premises of the decision-makers through finer 1965, pp.387-422. controls on the information received and the The best discussion of the changing expectations generated, search for interdepart- justifications for managerial rule and worker mental conflicts that prevent better inspection obedience as they are related to changes in tech- nology, etc., can be found in Reinhard Bendixs procedures from being followed, and after H^or^ and Authority in Industry, John Wiley & manipulating these variables, sit back and Sons, Inc., New York, 1956. See especially the wait for two or three months for them to take chapter on the American experience.14 hold. This is complicated and hardly as Some of the leading tights of the classi-
  14. 14. cal view—F. W. Taylor, Col. Urwick, and Henry Inc. Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1963. All three ofFayol—arc briefly discussed in Writers on Organi- tbese books arc fairly rougb going, tbougbzations by D. S. Pugh, D. J. Hickson and C. R. cbapters 1, 2, 3, and 6 of tbe last volume areHinings, Penguin, 1971. This brief, readable, fairly sbort and accessible. A quite interestingand useful book also contains selections from book in this tradition, tbougb somtwbat beavy-many other schools that I discuss, including going, is Micbael Croziers The BureaucraticWeber, Woodward, Cyert and March, Simon, Phenomenon, University of Cbicago, and Tavi-the Hawthorne Investigations, and the Human stock Publications, 1964. Tbis is a striking de-Relations Movement as represented by Argyris, scription of power in organizations, tbougbHcrzberg, Likcrt, McGregor, and Blake and tbere is a somewbat dubious attempt to linkMouton. organization processes in France to tbe cultural As good a place as any to start examin- traits of tbe Frcncb the human relations tradition is Rensis Likert, Tbe book by Joan Woodward IndustrialThe Human Organization, McGraw-Hill, New Organisation: Theory and Practice, Oxford Uni-York, 1967. See also bis New Patterns of Man- versity Press, London, 1965, is still very mucbagement, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New wortb reading. A fairly popular attempt to dis-York, 1961. cuss the implications for tbis for management The Buck Rogers scbool of organiza- can be found in my own book. Organizationaltional tbeory is best represented by Warren Bcn- Analysis: A Sociological View, Tavistock, 1970,nis. See bis Changing Organizations, McGraw- Chapters 2 and 3. Tbe impact of tecbnology onHill Book Company, New York, 1966, and bis structure is still fairly controversial. A number ofbook with Pbillp Slater, The Temporary Society, tecbnical studies bave found botb support andHarper & Row, Inc., New York, 1968. Mucb nonsupport, largely because tbe concept is de-o£ tbis work is linked into more general studies, fined so differently, but tbere is general agree-e.g., Alvin TofHers very popular paperback ment tbat different structures and leadershipFuture Shoc, Random House, 1970, and Ban- tecbniques arc needed for different situations.tam Paperbacks, or Zibigniew Brzezinskys Be- For studies tbat support and document this view-tween Two Ages: Americas Role in the Techni- point sec James Tbompson, Organizations intronic Era, the Viking Press, New York, 1970. Action, McGraw-Hill Book Company, NewOne of the first intimations of tbe new type of York, 1967, and Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorscb,environment and firm and still perhaps tbe Organizations and Environment, Harvard Uni-most perceptive is to be found in tbe volume versity Press, Cambridge, Mass., Tom Burns and G. Stalker, The Management Tbe best single work on tbe relation be-of Innovation, Tavistock, London, 1961, wbere tween tbe organization and tbe environment andthey distinguished between "organic" and "mech- one of tbe most readable books in the field isanistic" systems. Tbe introduction, wbicb is not Pbilip Selznicks sbort volume Leadership in Ad-very long, is an excellent and very tight summary ministration, Row, Peterson, Evanston, Illinois,of tbe book. 1957. But the large number of tbese studies are Tbe political science tradition came in scattered about. I have summarized several in mytbrougb tbree important works. First, Herbert Complex Organizations: A Critical Essay.Simons Administrative Behavior. Tbe MacMil- Lasdy, tbe most elaborate and persuasivelan Co., New York, 1948, followed by tbe second argument for a systems view of organizations isbalf of James Marcb and Herbert Simons Organi- found in tbe first 100 pages of tbe book byzations, John Wiley 6t Sons, Inc., New York, Daniel Katz and Robert Kabn, The Social Psy-1958, tben Ricbard M. Cyert and James Marcbs chology of Organizations, Jobn Wiley and Co.,A Behavioral Theory of the Firm, Prentice-Hall, 1966. It is not easy reading, however. 15