Hierarchy the only hope in crisis? LO23073

Philip Pogson (ppogson@uts.edu.au)
Mon, 01 Nov 1999 13:34:02 +1100

Replying to LO23055 --

I've just read a great overview article on power in organisations called
"Some Dare Call it Power" by Cynthia Hardy and Stewart Clegg. It can be
found on page 622 of the Clegg edited book "Handbook of Organizational

The authors review the immense iterature on power in organisations and see
it as as dividing into two main strands which virtually do not talk to
each other:

1. functionalist

2. critical

Functionalists largely view the power relations tied up in organisation
design (especially hierachies) as legitimate and necessary and are unable
to either problematise or critique the way things are. Until fairly
recently, for example, conventional organisation theory had little to say
about why women and other minorities, for example, were strangely missing
from senior roles...

In contrast, the critical theorists including those of the Marxist and
Weberian tradition once had a powerful critical model which explained and
predicted abuse, isolation and unhappines at work in terms of class
conflict, but their methodology has been eroded and muted by
post-modernists such as Foucault. The fall of communism has not helped

Do the authors offer easy answers or a nine point "to do" list? No, but
having read the article twice paragraph by paragraph I feel I better
understand a whole lot of questions around heirachy and power from a
number of perspectives.

Philip Pogson
Leadership Development Strategy Consultant
Staff Development Branch
University of Technology Sydney NSW 2007

ph: +61 2 9514 2934(w)
fax: +61 2 9514 2930(w)
ph/fax: +61 2 9809 5185 (h)
mobile: +61 0412 459156

"The new heresy for the organisational renewal movement to espouse is that
when we build organisations that act upon this world we must not do so with
the intent to exploit, pollute and plunder but to renew the life of the
planet and ourselves."

-Dexter Dunphy


Philip Pogson <ppogson@uts.EDU.AU>

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