Main arguments in the article
Overview of the article
An assessment of the modern organisations reveals that contemporary organisations have slowly adopted different practices. These practices are viewed as organisational rationalisation where people within organisations adjust their behaviours in a certain manner to align their behaviours to the goals and objectives of organisations.
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In the article, Kieser (1998) takes a look at the transformation of organisations, especially how the attribute of organisational behaviour has changed since the 18th century through the 21st century.
Giving the example of estates in the early times, it is apparent that unlike in the early organisations where organisational behaviour was largely determined by coercive forces, contemporary organisations embrace behaviour by avoiding the use of coercive forces. Instead, there is the creation of an understanding where members are given space to develop skills and competencies that determine their actions and behaviours.
The orientation behaviour in organizations as embedded in organisational theory and practice
Taking a comparative perspective between estates in the 18th and 19th century and contemporary organisations, Kieser (1998) brings up a number of differences between estates and organisations in the modern times.
Most of the differences that are brought out show that the changes in organisational behaviour as evidenced in the move from real estate to modern organisations often revolves around the evolving roles of individuals in organisations.
A focus on the attribute of organisations’ behaviour of discipline by Kieser (1998) further reveals that discipline is something that is being personalized as organisations move from the centralized and complex systems of command to simple systems of command and control where individuals are empowered to discharge their roles and responsibilities with minimal supervision.
According to Kieser (1998), rationalisation is a concept that is gaining momentum in the orientation of modern organisations. Modern organisations seek for mechanisms of ensuring that they are oriented in a way that it becomes easier for individual employees to deliver. There is no better way to achieving this than to increase rationalisation.
A number of theories and theorists and their arguments are also brought up to aid in elaborating on the elements of change between traditional and modern organisations. There is the attribute of discipline as seen from the lenses of organisational behaviour and positioning in terms of performance.
The other interesting thing that warrants attention here is that Kieser (1998) focuses on change in organisational behaviour from a broad perspective; that is, the lenses of change in organisational management as reflected in the forces of management from a political perspective, especially in the 20th century because most of the reforms that have resulted in the modern structures of organisations and their influence on organisational behaviour are largely derived from the 20th century political developments.
These developments have had resounding effects on organisational management. Here, it is worth asserting that, “horrible punishments which were inflicted on the body became therefore increasingly substituted by forms of permanent surveillance, correction and training, for which Bentham’s ‘Panopticon’ provided a template” (Kieser 1998, p.51).
This assertion points at the fact that the modes of discipline are revolutionizing as discipline in now determined and shaped by scientific mechanisms, rather than the stiff control systems in estates or traditional organisations.
Kieser (1998) also brings up the move towards modernizing organisations, which he does by revisiting the issue of interaction as a problem in attaining the goals of organisations. Here, it is easy to note that the explosion of associations in the 18th century is a reason enough to justify the weaknesses in estates, particularly the difficulties regarding interaction and moulding of behaviour among the members belonging to estates.
It is worth noting the fact that freemasons are brought out as the indicators of formalization of organisations in the 18th century. Kieser (1998) asserted that “the freemasons were to educate each other in temperance, perseverance, politeness, intrepidity, and secrecy.
Their aim, in short, was to produce enlightened human beings able to bring reason to triumph over passion” (p. 54). The aim of the creation of such organisations was to reduce the aspect of constraint as far as the smooth functioning of organisations was concerned.
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The setting in of the era of industrialisation resulted in further transformation of organisations as the success of factories largely relied on the way the employees conducted themselves. Weckert (2005) observed that a lot of changes have been seen in organisations from the industrial revolution period to date.
Among the changes that are most visible is the change from explicit disciplinarian as a way of shaping the behaviours of employees to the embrace of rationalised systems and approaches to employee mobilisation as ways of promoting discipline in organisations.
Differences between early freemason organisations and modern organisations
Kieser (1998) observed that there are a lot of changes between early freemason organisations and the modern organisations. The first and, perhaps, most visible difference between freemason and modern organisations is the emphasis on rationalisation of discipline in modern organisations.
This is evident in the observation by Weber, who noted that “science came to replace belief, and scientific as well as technical knowledge replaced tradition” (Kieser 1998, p. 50).
The implication here is that freemason organisations emphasized on rigid systems of enforcing discipline, which is negated in modern organisations because modern organisations pay attention to science and knowledge in synthesizing the attributes of discipline among organisational members.
According to Clegg (2009), modern organisations embrace the development and sustenance of what is referred to as corporate culture.
Freemason organisations, on the other hand, were possessed with the promotion of organisational strengths devoid of embracing change in the behaviours of employees in relation to organisational goals and objectives. Kieser (1998) observed that “later associations rationally planned and adapted organisational rules with regard to the achievement of goals” (p. 66).
Another notable difference is that modern organisations focus on people, processes and objectives, while the freemason organisations only paid attention to people and rules. In modern organisations, rules are derived from the goals and objectives that are laid down; thus, the enforcement of discipline is aimed at helping to propel the employees towards meeting the goals of the organisation (Kieser, 1998).
In freemason organisations, there was emphasis of ritual forms of behaviour, rather than behaviours that were based on rationality like in modern organisations. The rationale informing this difference is that modern organisations keep realizing the value of actors in promoting the ability to meet organisational goals (Kieser 1998).
Modern organisations are working towards transformation from bureaucratic and complex processes to simple processes of management that have a strong basis on scientific findings.
The simplicity of modern organisations is evident in the culture of modern organisations where the issue of class is eliminated from organisational processes. According to Engholm (2001), modern organisations are more unified because employees are left with the space to foster collaborations for the sake of enhancing causes that result in the attainment of organisational objectives.
Clegg, S. R. 2010, SAGE directions in organization studies, SAGE, Los Angeles, CA.
Kieser, A. 1998, ‘From freemasons to industrious patriots. Organizing and disciplining in 18th century Germany’, Organization Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 47-71.
Weckert, J. 2005, Electronic monitoring in the workplace: Controversies and solutions, Idea Group Pub., Hershey, P. A.