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Über dieses Buch

Francois Dupuy's book describes and analyses how managers need to understand organisations in order to help them effectively implement the changes necessary to operate in today's competitive environment. Focusing on the need to cooperate, Dupuy provides a diagnostic and a methodology that shows managers how to understand why people do what they do and how they can use this knowledge to implement organisational change.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Introduction

Globalization and its effect on economic systems are at the centre of debates of all kinds in this fin de siècle. Its consequences, as we will see, are usually discussed at the level of global economies (expansion, recession, massive unemployment), or of individual economies (an uncertain future, unemployment and the related human drama, forced displacement, the redefining of work tempos and so on). Both the impact of these phenomena on the workplace, on the ‘company’ in the largest sense, and our ability to control and manage that impact have not really been dealt with, no doubt because these aspects are less visible and consequently much more difficult to talk about. These are the issues which this book intends to place at the centre of debate, that is, how the emergence of a globalized, postindustrial society has affected organizations – that is to say, private, public, or para-public businesses – organizations which, as the century draws to a close, provide the goods and services which people need, an assertion which many authors are currently debating.
François Dupuy

The Problem

Frontmatter

1. The Organization, Concreteness, Complexity

Part I will focus on how organizations are affected by the ‘customer’s victory’ which is another and simple way to translate ‘globalization’. This is not to say that we will enter into the debate on how corporate structures could adapt to a more competitive marketplace, or discuss the beneficial effects of matrix-like organization as opposed to vertical companies, nor even the virtues of centralization in light of the problems which can be caused by excessive decentralization. This would be to return to the familiar debate on types of organizational structure, a debate which, beginning with Taylor, occupies an important place in the literature. Ever since Henri Mintzberg’s seminal work,1 ‘structure’ has consistently been a topic of great interest.2 Some even consider structural change to be the mainspring, the cornerstone of organizational change.
François Dupuy

2. The Customer’s Victory

To understand what is meant here by the ‘customer’s victory’, we will have to go back to the debate over globalization first mentioned in the introduction. As we saw, the idea of globalization today is no longer contested, but this is not to say that the concept is accepted everywhere in the same way, or that its consequences do not undergo harsh criticism. In many countries, we find two schools of thought. On one hand, there is the school which, although having observed the inevitableness of globalization, does not take for granted the elimination of nation-states.1 Instead, a strong state should increasingly regulate the effects of globalization and protect its citizens from the more serious consequences. This would mean voluntarily bowing out, ‘politically’, from the hyper-financialization of the world. This line of thinking is the exact opposite of the one proclaimed on billboards in the United States, such as the well-known slogan ‘Government is the problem, free enterprise is the solution’.
François Dupuy

3. What is a Bureaucracy?

To take an interest in bureaucracy is not to look back at the past, but towards the future. The central hypothesis of this book is that the end of bureaucracies, as they will be defined in a few moments, is the number one hell to face in the transformation of companies and organizations in coming years. It is no secret: there is not one management textbook or analysis of world trends that is not keenly interested in the end of bureaucracies, regardless of the author’s point of view: ‘Today in the realm of organizations we see and suffer from cumbersome bureaucracies which, more than ever, are signs of the poor management of meaning.’1 To which Waterman adds a more precise definition: ‘The problem is as follows: the bureaucracy, our most traditional form of organization, was created to manage the dayto- day problems of organizations: the sales department sells, manufacturing manufactures, and so on. So long as economic activity does not change tooquickly, bureaucracies get along fairly well.
François Dupuy

4. A Requiem for Bureaucracy

We enjoy bureaucracies. Those in which we work, that is, not those which we have to confront and which bind us with constraints. We are, in fact, both the bureaucrat and the customer: we apply pressure and we resist it, we demand change and yet we cherish the advantages that are already ours. There is no real contradiction here, as a number of writers have already pointed out.1 Our ability to play both roles is to a large extent the result of how difficult it is to identify, or ‘flesh out’ bureaucracy, so to speak, when it is defined in terms of the line of thought governing the implementation of its modes of functioning, and in terms of the employee benefits associated with them. So long as this definition remains relatively abstract and general – the ability to produce general and impersonal rules and to apply them, for example – so long as it underscores the trivial, day-to-day aspects of bureaucracy, just as Balzac described the bureaucrat 2 –paperwork, drawn-out procedures, little contact with others – bureaucracy resembles any large organization, a military model 3 or a form of public administration. And so, bureaucracy is referred to as ‘them’, even for bureaucrats themselves, who are all the more ready to point out the ungainliness of the world they work in, since doing so allows them to point out their own flexibility.
François Dupuy

The Process

Frontmatter

5. On the Difficulty of Change and its Management

The characteristics which we have found in bureaucracy – in technobureaucracy more specifically – are part of a single system. This means that they are in harmony, that they reinforce and strengthen each other, making it extremely difficult and dangerous to define and then initiate a process of managed change. This explains why the body of literature on the subject of change is so abundant and diverse, as we will see later on, as well as why leaders are constantly engaged in a quest for a ‘philosopher’s stone’, for a recipe which would with a minimum of risk spell out what to do, so as to make change acceptable to the workforce and to control its effects as it is being implemented. To better understand the scope of this problem, let ussummarize through the five points listed below what is at the core of today’s bureaucracies, and which is going to have to change under the pressure from the customer, if they are to avoid disappearing or imploding, taking a needlessly heavy human toll:
François Dupuy

6. The Frame of Reference

Let us begin with the following proposition formulated in the preceding chapter: it is all the more difficult to change an organization when the actors in the organization – leaders as well as employees – have a poor understanding of how it functions. For the leaders, as is often observed, this puts a damper on their ability to make decisions over which they feel, however confusedly, that they have no control. This is what managerial rhetoric calls prudence. Similarly, this leads them to various protection strategies (bluntly called the ‘cover your ass syndrome’ in America) which determined sociologists have been studying for some time now.
François Dupuy

7. Listening to Bureaucrats and Changing Bureaucracy

Turning to the case study which will be used throughout this the last chapter, it is now time to go beyond the fundamental alliance which has structured the relationship between the leaders of bureaucracy on one hand and consultants whom we might call ‘classic’ – those who focus on process, structures, procedures – on the other. The first, most often outstanding, intelligent1 … and sometimes cynical, are panic-stricken in the face of the sheer scale of their task. They do not see how they could succeed where so many others failed, faced as they are with motionless rank and file, fixated on its most recently won privileges and always ready to join in with the unions, which are also constructed around these bureaucracies and are well-adapted to their mode of functioning, their compartmentalization, their occupations.
François Dupuy

Conclusion – Towards New Organizations?

Conclusion – Towards New Organizations?

Throughout this book, a central theme has been that of the profound, sometimes abrupt, but almost always painful transformation of technical bureaucracies, constructed for the most part on Taylor’s scientific organization of work model. Once again, this trend is not new. It is almost universal in scope, even if the problem takes on different forms according to the specific environments encountered in different nations. Countries differ less in the rigidity of their bureaucracies – and indeed, extreme rigidity is not always on one particular side of the Atlantic as is often thought – than in their ability to question them, whatever the social and human cost. We are dealing with a strong underlying movement which goes beyond private business or public administration.
François Dupuy

Backmatter

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