Hierarchy the only hope in crisis? LO23102

Philip Pogson (ppogson@uts.edu.au)
Wed, 03 Nov 1999 14:58:34 +1100

Replying to LO23093 --

Dear Roy,

Thanks for the note.

>It is a pity that they have only divided it into two main strands. I
>would like to see power mapped onto the four sociological pardigms that
>Burrell and Morgan used to analyse organizational theory.

Mine was a very quick summary of an article that itself seeks to summarise
300 years of writing on power going back to Machiavelli and Hobbes - to
the Medieval Guilds actually. My purpose being to jog list members to
remember that it is not productive to hold a conversation on the merits of
heirachy without some thought to the nature of power in organisations.

Hardy and Clegg of course recognised other strands of thought apart from
these two and explore them in a very rich way, but why should they come up
with the same four Burrel and Morgan came up with? Clegg has written at
least 4 other books on power over the last 25 years (which I have not
read!) so I am sure there is some more depth of content there for the
intellectually adventurous with time on their hands.

>but by the way, you did not say who wrote the chapter, only that your
>colleague Stewart Clegg was an editor.

I did actually mention the article was written by Hardy and Clegg, but
just to repeat it, the book of which "Some dare call it power" is a
chapter is titled "Handbook of Organizational Studies" and is edited by
Clegg, Hardy and Nord, published by Sage.

>IMHO, we must be careful to distinguish between Marxist analysis and the
>communism poltical system implemented in using Marx's name. Analysis
>might provide some insight into society, it cannot give us an
>implementation tool for running society (In my view, this is what the fall
>of communism confirms).

Of course I agree that one should make this distinction, but surely the
fall of communism has not helped strengthen the credence given to Marxist
analysis. Hardy and Clegg's point is that the unitary nature of Marixist
analysis - ie control of the means of production by those with capital- is
its weakness. In the same way, if capitalism fell over tomorrow, many
Western management writers would have a dog of a time getting their next
book published!

>Marxist analysis might highlight potential inequalities in our
>organizational structural designs. A number of authors recommend using
>this type of analysis. It is represented by the domination metaphor by
>Gareth Morgan in his eight metaphors collectively titled "Images of
>Organization". If an analysis of an organizational structure suggests
>that a particular role has a high power potential, would we really want to
>select somebody with strong autocratic tendenacies?

Not sure of the point you are making in the last sentence Roy, but I would
observe that power is of itself a construct rooted to time, culture,
place, gender etc. We should more corrently speak of "power(s)". So to
me, whether or not one selects an autocrat for a possible "high power"
position is a situated decision. When the city of Darwin in northern
Australia was flattened by a cyclone in 1975 the Federal government sent
in the army, and the army acted in a pretty "highhanded", autocratic
manner - which would not normally be acceptable in our society - to
establish law and order and to stop the spread of disease.

Equally, the power I may have and attempt to exercise in a network
organisation is obtained and used differently to the power I might have as
a manager in a conventional company, religous order, or indeed as a white
South African of no particular distinction under aparthied where power
over blacks and coloureds would have been allocated to me by dint of race
and geography. My power as a parent comes from my age, size, gender,
legal frameworks, religion, culture etc, but also from my personal
qualities and the genuineness of my attempts to be worthy of respect and
love! It is very much situated in time and place and re-earned every day!

By the way, I've read, quoted, used and admire Morgan's book for many
years but it was published in 1986...and there are many viewpoints.


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)
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"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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