First, I would like to comment on the notion of mechanistic and organic approach towards empowerment. This notion reminds me of “The Burns and Stalker Study” . The study was an analysis of 20 industrial firms in the United Kingdom and the effects of the external environment on the pattern of their management and economic performance. Burns and Stalker identify two divergent systems of management practice and structure – the ‘mechanistic’ system and the ‘organic’ system. In their study, they have mentioned that the mechanistic system is a more rigid structure and more appropriate to stable conditions and in contrast, the organic system is a more fluid structure appropriate to changing conditions. The definition of mechanistic and organic is very much similar to what the authors of the article have depicted.
The study of Burns and Stalker has a very important conclusion and resonated with what the authors of the article have mentioned. There are immediate stages between the two extreme systems which represent not a dichotomy but a polarity. The relationship between the mechanistic and organic system is not rigid. An organization that displays both relatively stable and relatively changing environment may move between the two systems. This has further reinforced the authors’ idea of integrating mechanistic and organic empowerment. As mentioned in the textbook, the workers’ flexibility must match the flexibility of the environment, which I agree very much with.
With this similarity, I cannot help but insinuate that the success of empowerment depends largely on how an organization is operated, that is mechanically or organically. Reading further down the article affirmed my insinuation. The authors mentioned the 3 major barriers that impede the promotion of empowerment in an organization and one of them is bureaucratic culture. Hence being a very much mechanized organization will probably impede to a large extent the efforts to inculcate empowerment. Whilst being a very much organic organization might make it lose much of its control and accountability. A balanced structure, I believe, would be beneficial.
In another area of discussion in the article, the authors have mentioned the Ford Motor Company's Leadership Education and Development program. They further came up with a flow chart on the process of empowerment. This process chart is a very good way to assist me in understanding the events that lead to successful empowerment efforts. However in another article found in Psychology Today , the authors of the very article that I am currently commenting on, actually found out the hidden behavior of the managers in Ford. Interestingly, this hidden behavior was not mentioned in the article. In the same study of 191 middle managers who were entering the LEAD program, Spreitzer figured that Ford's star supervisors would dutifully embrace the company's call for change and reorganize their departments. But, in fact, it was the workers whose careers had stalled who were most likely to attempt the dramatic changes Ford wanted.
Puzzled, Spreitzer and Quinn looked for an explanation from the second-string managers themselves. "They told us, 'We're not going to get promoted anyway, so we might as well do what we think is right,'" reported Spreitzer. And the high-achieving managers? Perhaps because they'd benefited most from the status quo, they were more reluctant to rock the boat by altering the corporate structure.
This made me doubt the whole objective of empowerment in the aspect of the ones being...