Organizational Theory 9 May 2009Compare and Contrast the three organization theory perspectivesThe aim of organizational theory is to understand the internal working, formal structure and external environment of complex behavior depicted by humans within organizations. Organization theory has gone through transmutation over the past few years bringing into consideration three specific perspectives: modernism, interpretivism and postmodernism. In fact, Albrow (1997) states that, “Each attempt to set out the principles of organization as a coherent rational theory rapidly becomes more than a relic of the changing times” (p. 152). Thus, different organizational theory perspective occurs due to changing times and changing reality.
Albrow (1997) regarding the basis of the different perspectives asserts that “postmodern theorizing then ceases to hold the same relation to organizational reality which modern organization theory once had to modern organization, neither foundation, nor mirror” (p. 152). Netting and O’Connor (2008) references the writings of Morgan (1997) in the published book Images of Organization acknowledges that, “that all theories of organization and management are based on implicit images or metaphors that lead us to see, understand, and manage organizations in distinctive yet practical ways” (p.
23). In this case, metaphors are the attempts that are required to understand one element of experience in relation to another. Thus, the assumptions and principles that are embraced by each perspective are varied. The factors that play an important role in the way that the organizational theories are approached and viewed as different are the structures, organizational effectiveness and technological capability. Netting and O’Connor (2008) states that, “each perspective brings with it certain insights and emphasizes particular aspects of organizational life while overlooking other essential elements” (p.
25). This then illustrates the ideologies that are expressed by each perspective. Generally, modernism a perspective that began during the Revolution period brings into focus theories such as those of Weber, Fayol and the likes. Postmodernism tries to maneuver away from this perspective and elaborates the changing requirements of current organizations and tasks that are supposed to be accomplished. Interpretivism mostly deals with organizational culture or communication. Thus, in relation to these three perspectives, what are their ontological and epistemological perspectives? In the case of modernism, objectivism is an important factor while positivism tries to pinpoint the truth.
This means that knowledge is tested against an objective world. Thus, organizations within this perspective are driven by norms of efficiency, rationality and effectiveness for specific intentions that are stipulated. Interpretivism utilizes subjective awareness in understanding objective or external existence (Tsoukas & Knudsen, 2003). This brings into consideration interpretivism that view knowledge is something relative to the knower and can be socially constructed. Thus, organizations are continuously constructed and re-constructed through symbolically appreciating mediation between the members.
Nevertheless, postmodernism takes a different perspective when dealing with organizations. Its ontological perspective is that of postmodernism - the belief that world appears through language and usually situated in discourse. Thus, knowledge cannot be used to assume that it accurately accounts for the truth due to that fact that meanings are not independent in reality. Hence, from this perspective, organizations are arenas for enacting power, irrationality, oppression and communicative distortion. Thus, it can be manipulated to suite the given situations (Tsoukas & Knudsen, 2003).