Organization as Machine

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Module 1 – Case 1
Organizations as MACHINES

Module 1- Case 1 MGT 501
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The organization structures at the Telebank call Center “Set goals and objectives and go for them. Organize rationally, efficiently, and clearly. Specify every detail so that everyone will be sure of the jobs that they have to perform. Plan, organize, and control, control, control. These and other similar ideas are often ingrained in our way of thinking about organization and in the way we evaluate organizational practice. For many people, it is almost second nature to organize by setting up a structure of clearly defined activities linked by clear lines of communication, coordination, and control." The major components of the technical system can be considered as the Hardware Mainframes, workstations, peripheral, connecting networks. Software Operating systems, utilities, application programs, specialized code. It is getting increasingly hard to tell the difference between software and hardware, but it is an integral part of any socio-technical system. Software (and by implication, hardware too) often incorporates social rules and organizational procedures as part of its design (e.g. optimize these parameters, ask for these data, store the data in these formats, etc.). Thus, software can serve as a stand-in for some of the factors listed below, and the incorporation of social rules into the technology can make these rules harder to see and harder to change. Of course in the Socio-technical system the People are the major component of social system. Individuals, groups: roles (support, training, management, line personnel, engineer, etc.). It helps to think of organizations as systems. Simply put, a system is a organized collection of parts that are highly integrated in order to accomplish an overall goal. The system has various inputs which are processed to produce certain outputs, that together, accomplish the overall goal desired by the organization. There is ongoing feedback among these various parts to ensure they remain aligned to accomplish the overall goal of the organization. There are several classes of systems, ranging from very simple frameworks all the way to social systems, which are the most complex. Organizations are, of course, social systems. The phrase "socio-technical systems" indicates the view that technology is not used in a deterministic fashion but rather is chosen and combined with specific social and organization strategies in controlling production. Their components are interrelated and interact so that a change in one component often produces changes in the other components and in the system as a whole. Bringing about good changes and preventing bad ones requires adjusting the different elements in relation to one another to maintain or strengthen key values embedded in the system. They include business projects/processes, physical surroundings, stakeholders, procedures, laws and regulations, financial and market systems, information systems, and environmental systems.

At Telebank call Center, technology is used to control the pace and direction of work in much the same way as assembly line production. Pace of work is controlled through automatic call distribution systems, which continually feed calls through to CSR's while software directs individual tasks. It's also possible to argue that Telebank's (continual) single unit production system overcomes one of the difficulties with continuous flow technical control identified by Edwards. He states that while technical control creates a common pace and pattern of work it links together the plant's workforce which means that if one worker stops working the whole plant is a threatened. This cannot happen in call centers - if one customer service representative stops working production is only marginally reduced.

Telebank's system is also used for monitoring and evaluating work – there is a second element of control. Technological...
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