‘A theoretical or practical perspective which sees technology as having independent effects upon people and organisations is misguided.’
Technology has played a vital role in the development of almost every aspect of organizations throughout the 20th Century. The impact of technology has significant effects on the structure, management and functioning of an organization. Technology is more than just hardware, machines or equipment. It is the basis of the approach and process an organization uses to manufacture a product or render a unique service. The implementation of technology demands a change in the structure and formation of groups and individual jobs (Mullins, 1999). There was a movement away from large scale, centralised organisation to smaller working units.
In the pursuit of a management’s continual quest for ever greater organizational effectiveness and efficiency, it was the research and implementation of modern management techniques, followed by technological advancements that changed the face of the industrial revolution. From the conveyor belt to the modern computer, technology has been in the foreground of modern organizational change. Individual efficiency, group dynamics and changes in organizational behaviour were at the heart of this change - Characterized by Taylor’s (1911) scientific management theory and Fayol’s (1949) administrative theory. With the advent of modern technology and management science in the 19th and 20th century, organizations were ushered the world into an era of development of modern management.
The use of technology such as the telephone in the 1880’s was viewed with the utopian hope of eliminating war - If the leaders of the world could speak directly to each other that war could be all but eliminated (de Sola Pool, 1977). As the industrial revolution gained force, it created tremendous challenges that management had not faced before. Managing large flows of raw material, man-power and information across vast distances created the need for meticulous methods of dealing with contemporary management issues. The need for a systematic, almost science like, yet practical approach to increasing productivity and utilizing resources optimally was pressing more than ever (Daniel, 2004). The use of punch cards and improved filing systems is just one example of the introduction technology into an organisation. Punch cards were introduced into the manufacturing industry and had long been developed and marketed strongly by IBM from 1880 to 1945 (Heide, 2004).
This paper critically discusses the notion that ‘…theoretical or practical perspective which sees technology as having independent effects upon people and organisations is misguided.’ Firstly, the author elaborates on the pivotal points of the discussion with an evaluation on the introduction of technology. The discussion is followed by a critical evaluation of the technological perspective in the light of how technology affects formal and informal group behaviour. Finally, the author concludes the paper by briefly evaluating the motives that led to the...