To what extent are people subordinated to systems and organisations

Making Sense of Organisations – To what extent are people subordinated to systems and organisations
Assignment Brief and Purpose
“In the past man has been first. In the future the System will be first”.
Attributed to Frederick Taylor at the beginning of the 20th century and quoted in
The One Best Way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency (1997) London:
Little Brown
This quotation suggests that Classical management theorists viewed the relationship
between people and organisations as one in which people serve organisations not the other
way round.
This assignment requires you to address the following question in the form of an essay;
To what extent are people subordinated to systems and organisations
in the 21st century?
Given that organisations are an inescapable part or all our lives it becomes important that we
develop an understanding of what they are and how they work (or do not work). The lecture
programme has emphasized the idea that organisations are not a single entity and that
making sense of them requires us to examine them through a variety of theoretical
perspectives as well as our own perceptual lens. This postmodern understanding argues
that organisations are socially constructed phenomena, so questions like; ‘what the
organisation is’, ‘why it is there’ and ‘how it works (or doesn’t)’ and ‘why’, should be
addressed from these different, but interrelated theoretical constructs.
The various perspectives offered during the lectures can all be employed to help you make
sense of organisations. These may include the following but you are not confined to these;
Historical
Sociological
Rational technical
Political
Psychological
Cultural (organisational and national)
Symbolic
An additional implication of the postmodern understanding is that the person making sense,
(you), must acknowledge their own influence on the sense making process, that is, you are
also involved in socially constructing the organisation even as an analyst, and are not
examining it from a distance. This will involve you in a consideration of your own
background and life experience. You are encouraged to offer insights of your own, and
given that we are understanding organisations as any community of people, large or small
and with whatever purpose, you should use your own experience. This may include any
organisations of which you have experience, for example; part time or full time work, schools
and other educational establishments, leisure time organisations, political organisations.

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