Theoretical Perspectives and Research

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Modern, post-modern, critical theory and symbolic-interpretive are four different perspectives that provides different ways to analyse and understand organisations, however this essay shall focus on two perspectives, namely the modern and critical theory. These two perspectives have different views on concepts that might appear similar, thus this essay shall examine the different stands they each take. Concepts that can be examined include, power, control and conflict, organisational structures, organisations culture and organisation and its environment. This essay shall closely examine how the two perspectives have different views on the subject on power, control and conflict pertaining to the different ways to analyse and understand organisations. In order to fully understand the perception of the relationship between power control and conflict, Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) stated that ‘conflict is a manifestation of the continuous struggle over control that power relations imply’ and the consequence of conflict is resistance. This relationship shall be the core of the subject in this essay.

According to an American political scientist named Robert Dahl (Dahl cited in Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006, p. 254), power is defined as ‘A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do.’ Though the modernist and critical theorists both agree that power relations are determined by political and economic structures however they disagree in many aspects of the subject (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006). The modernist suggests the strategic contingencies theory with the relation to power. This theory states that it is the ability of an actor to protect others from uncertainties determines their power as stated by (Mills & Simmons, 1995). Thus the organization grants power to people who are central to operations, who are capable of solving uncertainties in an organization. An example of such instances can be reflected in the case of General Motors in the 1980s when the organisation suffered a drop in its market share due to its unattractive mobile designs. The organisation had focused mainly on its cost reduction and brand management. In order to solve such a crisis, Robert Lutz was appointed by the organisation as vice chairman for product and development and was tasked to solve the situation. Robert Lutz appointment as chairman granted him the power to accept and reject all aspects of the vehicle designs (Robbins & Barnwell, 2006). The authority that he had was evidence to the gain in power in the handling of uncertainties. Robert Lutz was regarded as the solution to the economic uncertainty that the organisation was facing. Acknowledging that his role as vice chairman of the production and development was important to the key operations in the organisation.

As for the critical theorists, they aligned themselves much with Steven Lukes, a British political and social theorist. He states that power in an organisation comes in three faces: decision making, secondly non-decision making and lastly the ability to shape preferences and perceptions of others without their awareness (Lukes cited in Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006, p. 267). Decision making takes place in an organisational setting where power were expressed through the implementation of decisions, often associated with decision makers such as managers who makes decisions which vastly affects those under his/her charge. Examples can come in forms such as the deadlines, reporting time and workplace behaviours. Non-decision making is the power to set agendas and limiting the topic for discussion. This means that the powerful can ignore the opposing demands of the weak by avoiding, delaying, providing inconclusive inquires or through bureaucracy. This occurs in discussions or meetings whereby the people with power sets the favourable topic of discussion and disregards possible matters of opposing interests. The last face is closely related to...
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