Various management theorists dispute the existence of postmodern organization (section I). They prefer to see what is in the right column of Table One (section I) as just a manifestation of "late modern" or "post-industrial"  or "post-Fordism" or even "post-capitalism."  Here is a brief definition of each "Post" term. While management writers disagree about each of these, they all think there is a post-something going on and that it is different from so-called "modern" organization.  

What is Post-Industrial? The post-industrialists argue that in the most recent industrial revolution smoke the traditional stake, brick and mortar organization is being replaced by a more virtual and service-business form. It is a form with fewer managers, workers are gaining more autonomy to self-organize, but the controlling and monitoring, once done by cadres of managers (and supervisors) is now being done electronically. On the down side this has been called an age of "surveillance" (Foucault, 1977: 207, 221) because of the "need to maintain control of such aspects as promotion practices, wage scales and job categorizations has required the collection of "objective" data on employees, rather than relying on personal relationships" (Fairweather, 1999: 40-41).  This new form of surveillance control is said to lead to an even more compliant work force.

What is Post-Fordist? If Henry Ford symbolizes the "Fordist" factory model of mass assembly line production and mass consumption, then what is "Post-Fordism"?  Post-Fordist is a more flexible and leaner (fewer workers) production system. Instead of mass production, small lots are produced with greater product variety to meet the tastes of different consumer groups. These consumer groups want products and services tailored to their unique needs (see Piore and Sabel 1984).  The result was not only fewer mass production factories, but the ones that remained doing more flexible production wanted more casual labor. The new Post-Fordist firms exhibit a penchant for "flexibility" to meet demands of changing consumer demands and changing labor costs (i.e. cheaper labor in other parts of the world).  Post-Fordist production also means continuous improvement processes, such as TQM (Total Quality Management), shorter cycle times (time it takes to change production line, invent a new product, change to meet new demands) and JIT (Just in Time Inventory) systems. The result is a flexible production system to meet the contingencies of fragmented markets.  This has resulted in changes in supply chain management and in choices of labor pools overseas (See Doner & Hershberg, 1999)

What is Post-Capitalism? There are three versions. 

First, Karl Marx (a definite modernists) envisioned a post-capitalist form of organizations that would be run by workers' councils.  This cause was taken up in the trade union movement of the 1920s and 1930s and later continued by socialists antagonist to the capitalist model. The great worker revolt did not happen and state socialism collapsed with the former Soviet Union. There are two other approaches to consider.

Second, for Peter Drucker (1991, 1993) competing in a global marketplace requires a new form of capitalism, what he terms "post-capitalism."  In Drucker's version, "knowledge" is the key asset that managers and firms must manage and we are becoming a "knowledge society."  We are going beyond brick and mortar and beginning to become virtual knowledge organizations, working in virtual teams, disseminating knowledge through web-based enterprises. In the new knowledge organizations, electronic technology with high speed computer systems and  automation are becoming common place. This is thought to be changing the very nature of capitalism. An entire consulting industry has sprouted over night to install systematic practices for managing a knowledge in the now post-capitalist enterprises. Of course, not everyone is convinced that there is a fundamental change, just the old wolf in new clothing. 

Third, a more recent approach to post-capitalism can be seen in the work of David Korten (1996a,b; 1999).  He is calling for citizen participation in corporate governance. In this approach local communities could petition to have corporate charters revoked, particularly corporations that continue to do ecological and social damage. Numerous citizen, activist groups are beginning to take on corporate power. The recent demonstrations against WTO in Seattle and more recently against the World Bank are examples.  But, there is also a growing "corporate charter" movement which asserts that the founding fathers of the U.S. constitution had local control over corporate greed and mayhem.  They argue that unbridled global capitalism is not always healthy for the local economy. In sum, Korten contends that multinational corporations use public relations spin control to mask themselves as responsible corporate citizens. But behind the PR mask are practices that pollute the natural environment, destroy labor markets, and exploit indigenous workers.

What is Late Modern? Organizations are in constant state of reform but they are still highly modern and even bureaucratic.  There are fewer layers, fewer managers, and more talk of teams, but just late modern, not really postmodern. What it means to be a manager changes in the "late modern world." Anthony Giddens (1991), for example,  says that under conditions of 'late modernity', the construction and maintenance of managerial-identity is very problematic (see Casey, 1995). As institutional structures become destabilized and open to constant restructuring and revision, so 'self-identity becomes a reflexively organized project' (1991: 5).

If a person's identity resides 'in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going' (Giddens, 1991: 54), when the institutional conditions in which viable narratives are constructed change, individuals may find their identities open to reformulation. As the possibilities for alternative identities and narratives emerge, the self enters a period of dislocation which offers the potential both for reaffirmation and transformation, and, since selves and institutions are dialectically related, the outcomes of personal struggles with identity manifest themselves in the identity of the occupation itself. So, for example, the reluctance of many managers to re-identify themselves as 'professionals' has inhibited the recasting of the occupation of management itself as a 'profession' (Reed and Anthony, 1992). [As cited in Danieli &Thomas, 1999: 449-450.]

What is Postmodern Fragmentation? There is no whole story, it is all parts. Instead of one form of capitalism there appear to be many. There are many voices and many story fragments that make up any complex organization.  A postmodern organization would be a combination or collage of many types and forms (premodern, modern as well as postmodern), partly bureaucratic, partly chaotic, partly a quest to reform it all, and partly postmodern unknowability. The postmodern organization acts out fragmented and contrary scripts (script here is the story acted out in action).  Postmodernists are quick to attack dualities (male/female identity; boss/worker hierarchy; traditional/progress; science/fiction; science/ethics, etc.  Best and Kellner accused postmodernists of being one-sided, as pointing out "fragmentation (Lyotard) or implosion (Baudrillard) while neglecting, with some exceptions, to properly conceptualize either totalizing forms of domination or resistance to them" (1991: 223).  in the end there are just hybrids, combinations of forms that make up complex organizations in the postmodern world.

The next sections III, focus on postmodern science (Part A) and postmodern aesthetics (Part B). We see postmodern sciences as more than Newtonian, mechanistic science, and postmodern aesthetics as different from modernist aesthetics.


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