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A Comparison Of Knowledge Age (Post Modern) Organizations With Traditional, Industrial Age Organizations

1350 words - 6 pages

A comparison of knowledge age (post-modern) organizations with traditional, industrial age organizationsOver recent years there has been a shift in thinking regarding the structure of organizations within the business field. Rather than business being designed in the same manner that they had been for many years, i.e. a traditional structure, there are signs that some businesses are thinking in a significantly different manner; reflecting current knowledge and thinking, i.e. a knowledge age or post-modern structure.(Ancona et al (1999), Blacker (1994), Overholt, Stever (1998)) Here we are going to examine a selection of the elements which are associated with traditional business structure ...view middle of the document...

Often information only passed from the top down, with no allowance for ideas or information to be sent 'up' unless it was to ones immediate superior. Different sections of the company were often separated with their own management structure and if one department wanted something from another department the managers broached one another to gain the information or source the employees to perform the work. Employees, from the bottom up were often only proficient in the area that they themselves worked in, e.g. research was separate from manufacturing. This bureaucratic style was intended to create a system that gave reliable results in a standardized manner.Post modern structure on the other hand, has a much flatter organization. Rather than being shaped like a pyramid, layers of middle management have been removed with the end result being that the senior management is much closer to the hands on employees of the company. (Ancona et al (1999)) There are less people in 'higher' positions with direct authority over others, resulting in less people to take responsibility for decisions to be passed down the information chain. This makes it a necessity that workers who previously had no need to make decisions or to suggest ideas to managers now need to for the entity to continue to function effectively. In addition the barriers between differing departments have largely been removed in recognition of the fact that departments are not islands, they need to interrelate to work effectively with one another, (Pettigrew & Massini (2003) e.g. if research does interact with manufacturing the development process may well be sped up as manufacturing usually know more about the process of creating an item than a researcher. The removing of barriers between departments also created a situation where employees need to be multi dimensional in that they are now required to be proficient not only at a specialized role, but to also be adaptable to change and able to work in more than one area of the company. A "key feature is understanding customer needs," (Cravens (1994) p 2) and responding to them. These changes obviously removed the structured bureaucratic style of old and replaced them with an adaptable and flexible system that should have a better chance of surviving in the rapidly changing world we are currently in.From this we can see that the post modern structure differs from the traditional structure in a number of ways, far more than are being looked at here. The levels of management are less, reducing the bureaucratic content of companies. The result of this is that information is passed freely in both directions rather than just filtering down from the top, involving a greater number of employees in the decision making process. This enables senior management to interrelate more closely with employees and potentially to gain greater insight into problems and potential solutions. (Hamel (2000)) The responsibility level that each employee has is...

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