Mechanistic and bureaucratic organisations will probably struggle to encourage organisational learning. Critically evaluate this statement in relation to the Mechanistic and Learning perspectives.

Topics: Management, Government, Strategic management Pages: 6 (1828 words) Published: July 30, 2014
Mechanistic and bureaucratic organisations will probably struggle to encourage organisational learning. Critically evaluate this statement in relation to the Mechanistic and Learning perspectives.

To evaluate this statement we first need to define what the mechanistic and learning approach is. Then define exactly what organisational learning is and what impact the characteristics of the mechanistic approach will have on it.

The two approaches involve theories and models about the adaptability and the learning skills of organizations. Bureaucracies clearly lack these characteristics in comparison to other approaches. The mechanistic approach operates the organisation in the same way a machine operates - efficient, specialised, reliable, predictable, logical and with no opinions (has no heart). The model which refers to this approach would be the Taylor model (Taylorism - 21st century scientific management). Frederick Winslow Taylor was a mechanical engineer who strived to improve industrial efficiency. He was a pioneer in the field of scientific management. The Taylor model consists of 4 components. 'Division of labour' where responsibility is shifted from worker to manager. 'One best way' where the scientific methods determine the most efficient way to operate. 'Scientific selection and training' which means the best person is selected depending on experience and qualifications. They are trained to work as efficiently as possible. Finally, 'monitor performance' where operations and performance is observed and monitored through an organisational hierarchy and through supervision. This basic concept further developed into Fordism and finally into TQM. The mechanistic approach works well when the task is clear and straightforward. A complex task may be difficult to adapt / change regularly to make it more efficient. It also works well when there is a stable environment with predictable demands from customers. It is also easier to apply the mechanistic approach to an organisation which produces the same thing over and over again with precision. Finally, you need compliant workers to achieve maximum efficiency; lazy, unfocussed workers will be inefficient. Bureaucratic organisations follow the mechanistic approach. A bureaucracy is an organisational form consisting of expertise and control with rules and regulations. In the 1930's Max Weber (German sociologist) wrote an exposition that described the bureaucratic approach as being the perfect way of organizing government agencies. The characteristics of a bureaucracy he explained include the following. A strict hierarchy with clear levels of authority and responsibility. The appointment should be based on expertise and qualifications. Within the organisational hierarchy there are strict rules and regulations to be adhered to. Max Weber's Iron Cage and Means to an End model are also relevant in this context. Paul du Gay - 'In Praise of Bureaucracy' also refers to the characteristics of a bureaucracy. there are 6 main elements included. 'Job specialisation' where employees are efficient and successful. 'Authority hierarchy' clarifies responsibility and accountability. 'Operating rules and procedures' outlining instructions and guidelines to be adhered to. 'Recording' organisational history where records are taken down from which the organisation can learn from. 'Impersonality' reduces both bias and subjectivity creating fairness amongst the employees. 'Employment/career' is the final component and involves employees having equal chances through their career. The mechanistic ideas inspired George Ritzer in his McDonaldization model. It involves many of the same components such as efficiency, predictability, control and calculability. The impact of McDonaldization included over rationalizing which has a side effect - irrationality. A rationalized system may result in events or outcomes that were not anticipated or desired. McDonaldization...
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