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Integrating the perspectives.pdf

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York University
Organization Studies
ORGS 2010

INTEGRATING THE PERSPECTIVES IN AN ORGANIZATIONAL SETTING Academic researchers have the luxury of focusing on one of the three lenses and becoming an expert on one of themstrategic design or political or culturalOne expert may analyze the organization chart primarily as a map of information flows and formal roles and responsibilities for example and assess it in terms of how well its formal structure meets the strategic needs of the organizationAnother may regard it as one piece of data in analyzing the political system of the organizationas a map of who has formal authority over whomAnd another may see it as a cultural artifact viewing its significance in terms of how often the chart is reproduced and in what contexts and whether members of the organization refer to the org chart when they try to explain their organization to outsiders or whether they assert that no one can understand the organization by looking at the chartTaking effective action in organizations however requires an ability to see the organization through all three lenses not just one and to integrate the insights derived from each into action steps that will work on all three dimensions This part of the module asks you to practice your skills in the context of a single case which follows up the case on Dynacorp in the Strategic Design section of the module In order to prepare for the class discussion you should go back and review each of the three lenses the strategic design political and cultural lenses Please read the background material on the Dynacorp organizationThis module also includes a transcript of the video case that you will see in classThe video itself provides much richer information than the transcript alone but you might want to read through the written version before class to enable you to focus more attention on the nonverbal cues in the videoTo help you prepare to do the analysis here are a few questions that you might ask from each of the three perspectivesThis list is suggestive not exhaustiveTry to think of additional questions you might ask under each categoryStrategic Design LensWhat is the strategy of the organization as a wholeHow well is it understood and implemented by the members of the organization at various levels What is the basis for the formal grouping structureAre roles and responsibilities clearly defined and understoodOn what activities does the structure focus attentionWhat are important interdependencies across the formal units represented by the boxes in the organization design ie with what other units does any one unit need to interact on a regular basis to carry out its assigned activitiesAre adequate linking mechanisms in placeWhat are they and how well are they workingHow is the performance of the organization and its members being measuredWhat is the incentive system and is it recognizing and rewarding strategically valuable beaviors and activitiesAre there perverse incentives that are rewarding dysfunctional behavior ie behavior that is impeding the achievement of desired goals1Do people in the organization have the resources and the motivation they need in order to carry out the tasks assigned to themIf not why notWhat are the barriers that are getting in the wayPolitical LensWho has power and status in the organizationWhat is the basis of their influenceIs power concentrated at the top or elsewhere or are there multiple power centersWhat are the key arenas of conflictWho are the key actors in this conflict individuals groups subunits and what are the basic causes of the disagreementsWhat are the interests of the key actorsWhat if any mechanisms of conflict resolution exist and how effectively are they workingIf they are not working effectively why notWho benefits most from the current patterns in the organization and whyWho gets credit in the organization when things are going well and performance goals are metWho gets blamed when the organization does not meet its goalsDo those who get blamed have the power to make changes that will improve performanceHow well do information about problems and requests for help move up the hierarchyHow open are those in positions of formal authority to suggestions and initiatives from belowCultural LensWhat artifacts stories symbols and observed behaviors provide important clues to the culture of the organizationHow much uniformity or variety do you observeWhat are the espoused values of the organization and how are they transmitted How widely are these sharedAre there any inconsistencies between the behavior observed and the espoused valuesWhat basic assumptions do these revealWhat other basic assumptions can you uncover in the language and stories people repeatDo those at the top of the organization have the same perceptions and beliefs about the organization as those at the bottomDo different units or groups share these or are there significant differencesWhat messages are those at the top of the organization hearing from those in positions of authorityHow are they interpreting themAre they hearing the message that the senders intendWhat individuals are held up as exemplarsWho is identified as a good manager or a good worker What does this reveal about the basic cultural assumptionsWhat is the emotional atmosphere in the organization confident anxious contentious etcTAKING EFFECTIVE ACTION STEPS In order to help you practice using the analytical skills that you are developing by using the three lenses the class discussion will ask you to recommend action steps for one on the key actors in the case based on your analysisHere are some of the features of a good action stepIt isIt is an action that you can take and that will have anSpecific and concreteobservable outcome not a general prescription such as Show confidence in your teamAn action step spells how what you could actually do to show confidence in your team2
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