Understanding Organisations

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EDUC8884: ORGANISATION THEORY IN EDUCATION
Assignment 1- UNDERSTANDING ORGANISATIONS
(LITERATURE REVIEW)

INTRODUCTION
Organisations, which have been developed over decades, embrace dynamic and complex elements and structures. Working in organisations requires leaders, managers and staff members to pay attention to these features in order to understand the organizational life and the way it works. In this paper, a review of the literature related to understanding organisations will be presented while the concepts of, and interrelationships between, organizational culture and change are going to be explored and examined. Then two common themes growing from the literature will be critiqued, and finally I will draw on my insights from the literature to critique a current change initiative in my organization and reflect on the implication for future practice.

UNDERSTANDING ORGANISATIONS
Organisations are entities involving a diversity of workforce, cultures, roles, structures with dynamics and complexities within themselves and can be influenced by different factors. Hence, to have some insights into understanding organisations requires a critical scrutiny of that diversity. Bolman and Deal (2008) recommend four frames for making sense of organisations, namely a structural frame, a human resource frame, a political frame, and a symbolic frame. A frame is deciphered as a mental model, which engages a group of assumptions and ideas (Bolman & Deal, 2008). The structural frame covers rules, roles, goals, policies, technology and environment while the human resource frame centers on needs, skills and relationships between the organisation and its workforce. The political frame is concerned with power, coalitions of individuals and interest groups embraced by micro-politics in organisation, and the symbolic frame is known as a cultural element of the organisation (Bolman & Deal, 2008). The researchers further point out that thinking about these frames requires individuals to see a big picture of organisations since there is no isolated issue that truly and adequately makes an organisation understandable or manageable (Bolman & Deal, 2008). All the elements of organisations have to be interconnected to each other, in particular for leaders in institutions to be effective. Cunliffe (2008) suggests that organisations should be thought of as a jigsaw puzzle in which every piece must be fitted together to form the whole picture. Theories provide a lens, and it is much helpful if different lenses are used because such lenses will provide different perspectives on what may be happening in organisations. Cunliffe (2008) stresses that using various lenses will assist individuals widen their understanding of the big picture of organisations.

In a similar manner, Busher (2006) presents a similar approach to Bolman and Deal’s (2008) to view and make sense of organisations. These include the structural; cultural; political; and personal approaches. The approaches respectively focus on organizational systems or processes; construction of meaning for actions of people in groups; power distribution between social groups; and interpretation and viewing of organisations of individuals (Busher, 2006). He also suggests that the main approach to perceive and comprehend educational organization is from a rationalist or from system perspective that stresses what works. This links to the view that “organisations are real and distinct from the actions, feelings and purpose of people” (Greenfield, 1975, p. 71). The political approach, which includes power and influence, can assist with understanding of organisations. The work by Handy (1993) shows that nature of power and influence are one of key elements that help us better understand institutional life since they are a bridging path linking people of the organisation to its purpose. According to Handy, power and influence create a fine texture of organisations and all...
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