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What are your reflective viewpoints about the organized anarchical/cybernetic organizational theory?

For your reference:


If the following conditions are true–(1) that the Collegial Theory may be too time-consuming and not everyone in the organization is knowledgeable or mature enough to be regarded as peers, colleagues, or professionals totally committed to the common goal reality of the organization; (2) that the Bureaucratic Theory may be too cumbersome to apply when conditions impacting the organization are changing rapidly or when there are unclear organizational processes and outcomes; and (3) that the Political Theory may seem too chaotic and does not take advantage of sensible rules and regulations that are still helpful to an organization–then what is next? The answer is the Organized Anarchy or Cybernetic Theory.

Cohen and March (1972) originally coined the phrase of “organized anarchy” when they referred to an organization that is not completely chaotic (or anarchical) because it also has some elements of order or centralization to it. Birnbaum (1991) added the concept of “cybernetic” to refer to an organization that has mostly loose-coupled sub-systems or sub-units that are fully capable of running themselves without centralized control, but there still is a need for some degree of centralized coordination.  Because both these theories or models have similar characteristics, it makes sense for me to combine the two into one, and I just call this group the “Organized Anarchical-Cybernetical” Theory.

Here are some characteristics of the Organized Anarchical-Cybernetic Theory.

Basic Image:  The governance structure has elements of centralization and decentralization. It attempts to incorporate the advantages associated with Collegial, Bureaucratic, and Political Theories but has all of their weaknesses as well. This type of organizations has loosely-coupled, semi-autonomous, or decentralized sub-systems or sub-units that are capable of running themselves. There is still a challenging need for some centralized control, and a proper balance must be established.

Basic Foundations: Pluralistic, Open Systems Theory

Process of Decision Making:  The “garbage can” approach is often used (Cohen and March, 1972). They also state that “the decisions of the system are a consequence produced by the system but intended by no one and decisively controlled by no one.” Indeed, the decision making process at the organizational level is challenging and may seem fragmented due to fluid participation, unclear processes, and ambiguous organizational goals. Many important decisions, however, are made at the sub-unit level.

Concern for Change:  Change at the organizational level is considered minor. Meaningful changes are handled by sub-systems or sub-units as they should be.

Conflict Resolution:  Conflicts are considered normal and are handled mostly by sub-systems.

Sources of Power:  Varies depending on situations and conditions. Referent, reward, expert, and legitimate sources of power are relied upon by leaders.

Role of Leaders:  Leaders at the organizational level are expected to deal with exceptions, disruptions, and subtle improvements. They are mostly symbolic. People at the sub-system’s level are more influential and practice a variety of leadership practices, including situational/contingency leadership.

Role of Followers:  Expected to take part in decentralized decision making. Often more valued than in other organizational theories. There is a sense of autonomy among professionals to do their work freely. Leaders coordinate their work as opposed to micro-managing them.

Advantages: This organization theory does provide “rational myths” without disrupting an organization as a whole. Decision making can occur even under ambiguous conditions. Decentralization fosters sensitivity to the external environment. Sub-systems can run by themselves without centralized leadership. Sub-systems are better able to detect and respond to changing environments without having to mobilize the organization as a whole.

Disadvantages:  Because-effect relationships of decisions are often unclear, the governance system is not good at resolving major problems facing the organization. There is waste of energy in eliminating “garbage” or irrelevant information from decision making.  Repetition of mistakes is likely to occur.  Due to decentralization, the organization is only able to respond to stimuli to which its subsystems are sensitive. It is often difficult to discard bad ideas or disseminate good ones. It is also difficult to repair ineffective components of the system and to coordinate organizational change. Many components of the organization may not be completely rational due to politics, umpire-building schemes, and a history of not working together as a whole


 

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