Aula nº 2 - 4 de Março de 2010
Texto de apoio
"Nearly all textbooks contain a paragraph in which the authors express their own understanding of organization, featuring both instrumental and institutional approaches. This is illustrated by the following definitions from three French textbooks [translated by the author]. The first definition represents an instrumental approach, while the other two represent differing institutional concepts of organization.
‘The organization tries to structure functions within the company in a logical way, to separate out support services, tasks and responsibilities and to maintain the necessary connections for a harmonious functioning of the whole.’ (François, 1974 II: 59).
‘Organization is the process whereby one devises in one’s own way the whole that comprises and supports all interconnected and target-oriented actions [...] at the same time bringing out the fundamental quality of these wholes, in order to understand the arrangement of the relations between the individuals and the whole.’ (Mélèse, 1979: 7).
‘The company, its organization and its politics are not answers but constructed by their participants who see external constraints as elements of their strategies [...]. The organization is an ideology in the sense that the ideas of those responsible for shaping relations between people, are themselves shaping the structures.’ (Bernoux, 1990: 115-123).
For François, organization is a means of putting order into companies. Mélèse envisages organization as a core element of each decision and each process occurring in a company. Finally, Bernoux views an organization as an arena comprising differing viewpoints and interests.
The definitions of organization not only differ through their institutional or instrumental approaches, they also show a different understanding of the whole construct of organization and its constituent parts. Bernoux starts out from the participants and their interests, which may (temporarily) cluster in the common construction of social structures. This approach emphasizes the elements rather than the whole. Mélèse deduces patterns of relationships and social behaviour from a system in equilibrium. He regards the whole, relegating individual elements to the background.
These two definitions represent two theoretical approaches often used in French textbooks, but seldom in German ones: power and system. Both are closely linked in French texts, whilst in German organization science they lead to a decision either for a power-oriented approach (Krüger tends towards this direction) or a system-theoretical approach (Remer, 1989: 2).
Both French and German authors’ definitions reveal a broad distribution between institutional and instrumental approaches, as well as between approaches that emphasize the whole or elements of the whole. Looking at the content that follows, however, there is a distinct shift in emphasis, with German textbooks showing a significant move towards the holistic view. Although appearing occasionally, the participant perspective in particular always becomes subservient to an overview of the structure as a whole. French textbooks appear vice versa, with a stronger orientation towards participants and the shaping instruments available to them in practice. Most French textbooks emphasize practical implementation more strongly in their later stages, with the introductory theoretical framework assuming an ordering function. In German textbooks, on the other hand, the theoretical approach tends to be less ambitious, but consistent throughout the following content, maintaining a level of abstraction and distance from practice-oriented representations."
in: Markus Gmür, "From Charts and Sails. Metaphors of Management and Organization in Germany and France" in Problems and Perspectives in Management, 1/2006, p. 179. Disponível em: http://www.businessperspectives.org/journals_free/ppm/PPM_EN_2006_01_Gmur.pdf [25 de Fevereiro de 2010]