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What is Postmodern? April,
2000 © David M. Boje & Leonel Prieto
"Post" comes after modern
(after bureaucracy, after hierarchy & after the industrial era).
The postmodern organization may be defined as
that comprising a networked set of diverse, self-managed, self-controlled teams
with poly-centers [many centers] of coordination that fold and unfold according
to the requirements of the tasks. Likewise, these teams are organized in flat
design, employees are highly empowered and involved in the job, information is
fluid and continuous improvement is emphasized throughout (after Boje and
The following table of
"Modern versus Postmodern Principles of Management" is taken from Boje
& Dennehy, 1993: xxix).
Table I: Modern Versus Postmodern
Principles of Management
Links Below to see chapters on each principle.
- * Short term profit goals
- * Mass production
- * Worker is a cost.
- * Vertical planning.
- * Top down focus.
- * Planning leads to order.
- * Long term profit goals.
- * Flexible production.
- * Worker is an investment.
- * Horizontal planning.
- * Internal and external customer focus.
- * Planning leads to disorder and confusion.
- * One man, one job and de-skilled jobs.
- * Labor-management confrontation.
- * Division of departments.
- * Tall is better
- * Homogeneity is strength.
- * Top has voice & diversity is tolerated.
- * Efficiency increases with specialization, formalization,
routinization, fragmentation, division of labor.
- * Work teams, multi-skilled workers.
- * Labor-management cooperation.
- * Flexible networks with permeable boundaries.
- * Flat is better.
- * Diversity is strength.
- * Many-voices and diversity is an asset.
- * Efficiency decreases with specialization, formalization,
routinization, fragmentation, and division of labor.
- * Authority vested in superior.
- * Extrinsic rewards and punishments.
- * Surveillance mechanisms everywhere.
- * Women paid 68% of men; minorities paid less.
- * Discourse is white male-based.
- * Individual incentives
- * Authority delegated to leaders by teams.
- * Intrinsic, empowered, ownership over work process.
- * People are self-disciplined.
- * Women and minorities equally paid.
- * Polyvocal/polylogic discourse.
- * Team incentives.
- * Theory X or Y
- * Centralized with many layers and rules.
- * Boss centered.
- * White male career tracks.
- * Tell them what to do.
- * Theory S (Servant Leadership)
- * Decentralized with few layers and wide spans.
- * People centered.
- * Tracks for women and minorities.
- * Visionary
- * Centralized control.
- * End-of-line inspection.
- * Micro surveillance.
- * Red tape.
- * Lots of procedures, rules, MBO & computers for surveillance.
- * Train top of pyramid.
- * Measure result criteria.
- * Hoard information.
- * Fear-based controls.
- * Decentralized control.
- * Quality control is everyone's job.
- * Two-way surveillance.
- * Cut red tape.
- * Dump procedures.
- * Train people.
- * Measure process criteria.
- * Information is given to all.
- * Self-control.
Table One presents a postmodern organization as something
different than modern.
There are several sections that follow for each of
The first gives a more basic
answer to the question "What is Postmodern?." It focuses on the topic of "postmodern organization."
The second section will compare several types of post's (post-industrial,
post-Fordist, & post-capitalist), The third section delves deeper into questions of
(part A) "postmodern science" and (part B) "postmodern
aesthetics" (which includes postmodern narratives). Read as many
sections as you want, depending upon your time and interests. There are
references in the final section.
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