Negotiated Order

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: “The Negotiated Order of organizational Reliability.”|

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Watson (2008), “Organizational rules and hierarchies play a part of in the patterning of life in organizations but the overall organizational order is one that emerges out of the process whereby different groups make use of rules, procedures and information in the day- to-day negotiations that occur between them about what is about to happen in any given situation at any particular time.” Paul Schulman, in his writings on the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant unfolded the different aspects of management step by step showing how organization rules, hierarchies and cultures affect the efficacy of the plant. At the beginning of the article ‘The negotiated order of organizational reliability’, Schulman (1993) delves into the realm of both the worker and manager by introducing and further conceptualizing the idea of “slack”. He expounds the link of this concept, of slack by breaking it down into two varieties. Firstly “resource slack, in time money, personnel…can be viewed negatively as a nonproductive inefficiency in the organization, a suboptimal allocation of available means to desired ends.” This concept outlined inherently speaks to the idea of Taylor’s ‘systematic soldiering’, where Taylor explains this notion as “ employee’s deliberate attempt to restrict output and still get maximum reward without tempting management to come back and tighten the rate.” The second aspect of slack zeroed in on is that of control slack. Despite the negative connotation of the word slack in essence from an industrial sociology standpoint can be viewed positively as a way to move away from a scientific management approach which helps to break down a centralized bureaucratic authority. Shulman’s aim on the paper being discussed is generally focused on the idea of organization function and efficacy and reliability from workers. One such way of doing such was by the work environment, the article outlined a quite detailed description of the surroundings of the plant; the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is located on acres of beautiful farm land with beef cattle and crops on the way. Parker in his book Sociology of Industry (2005), noted from the Hawthorne studies conducted that environmental factors played a key role on motivating workers behavior. Industrial sociology would pinpoint the strategic effort places on environment to be all part of management’s way of motivating or just keeping workers happy. The author highlights a clear division of labor as well as support groups, separate departments to handle each problem example Safety and Emergency Services department as well as Safety Review groups, fire Marshalls, hygienists. This inherently shows the rigid bureaucratic structure eminent at the firm with each specific group having a designed task to take care of. Workers jobs are monitored via quality assurance who reports to the vice president of utility. He shows that the firm as well maintains a level of compliance when it comes to specific standards. Most importantly when it comes to employee interaction and say on the job, what separates this firm from a scientific management style is the fact that they have weekly meeting which inherently allow employees to be a part of the firm as well as support group for workers. Schulman highlights in his research that despite the high levels of specialization and organization there is pressure to “formalize” tasks and as a result there are some “established norms for operations—not formally but informally.” These norms the writer ties into the title of the article negotiated order which he highlighted there is at the firm however it was difficult to actually point out except with the case of improper communication between the day and night supervisor who did not tell each other about changes that were made. In all the case of Diablo canyon managers aim to diminish slack and gain maximum safe levels of performance, they have...
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