Power and the Limits of Power in Organisational Theory

Topics: Organizational studies, Organization, Organizational studies and human resource management Pages: 10 (3686 words) Published: February 7, 2012
Power and the limits of power in organisations can be understood in many different ways due to different perspective in organisation theory .This essay will be talking about two theoretical perspectives of organisation theory, modernism and critical theory and how these perspectives contribute to the different ideas about power and the limits of power in organisations. To begin, this essay will start by differentiating the basic perspective of modernism and critical theory in organisations. In ontology, assumption for modernist takes an objectivist point of view, they believe that “reality exists independently of those who live in it”. The modernist believes that there is something out there regardless of whether you know it exists. Example, there may be another planet which exists and has not been discovered, the objectivist point of view would regard that the planet exists. Similarly, the theoretical perspective of critical theory in ontology is the same as they also take an objectivist point of view (Bryman & Bell 2003). Positivist epistemology is assumed in modernism, where truth can be discovered through conceptualisation and measurements of behaviour. Thus, modernist believes that scientific methods such as experiments and surveys to generate quantitative information. Using a hypothesis that employees can only remain productive for 10hrs in a day, experiments and surveys may be conducted to test the productivity of employees and the reliability of the hypothesis.The statistical data obtained can then be used to explain the optimal hours an employee should work. Therefore, the goal of modernism would be to discover the truths by testing on possible hypothesis, after it has been prove useful, the hypothesis generated would have practical use. Critical theory in epistemology believes that the knowledge is tainted by an ideology. The knowledge that we knowcannot be assume for what it is. For example, company employees were made to believe that the work they have done is only worth the amount of wagesawarded to them. However, critical theory suggests that employees do not realise that they have been exploited because the value of their work out weighs their wages. The goal of critical theory would be to discover the truth of the knowledge that we think we know which is to uncover the truth that the employees were indeed being exploited.

Organisational power and its limitations
In the topic about power, modern and critical theory have different perspective of understanding power and the limits of power in the organisation. In the modernist perspective, they focus on the distribution of power within the organisation and their goal would be to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness. They believe that with control, maintaining authority and power within the organisation can be done. In modernism, there are some theories of control, the cybernetic model, agency theory and market, bureaucracy or clan control. Cybernetic control uses feedback, performance evaluation and rewards to achieve organisational goals. With that, performance standards can be set and management can measure the performance of their employees in terms of sales generated so as to evaluate performance of the employees. Organisations would be able to use the information to reward or punish employees according to work performance. Hence, most organisations use it as power over the behaviour of employees and organisational goals would be achieved (Hatch & Cunliffe 2006). Agency control helps to control the behaviour and output by the managers as performance is dependent on the amount, relevance and quality of the information which can be manipulated by them. Hence, whEhhhHHSSKSSSS organisations would have to monitor managers through behaviour or output controls which could be costly. Agency controls are then designed in four different ways so that behaviours can be controlled easily. Two of the examples of this control...
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