5/14/2012

Organisational Analysis and Design

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Introduction


The concept of a frame of reference was adapted from work on cognitive frameworks . It has since been adapted by Bolman and Deal within the broad context of management theory to construct a conceptual framework for the analysis of organizations. Dunbar ,Garud and Raghuram expanded the concept of a multi-framed firm to emphasize the concept of deframing. Deframing advocates the constant re-evaluation of established frameworks to creatively meet managerial challenges.


A managers frame of reference is taken to mean a referential frame outlined in Bolman and Deals work. That a managers frame of reference is an enabling asset is taken to mean that by using only one of the four frames to interpret a given situation, a manager will be effective in pursuing an organizations overall goals.


Development of the argument shall begin by outlining some of the criticisms against a multi-framed approach that bring into doubt its utility. It will then be argued that whereas single-minded determination to utilize existing competencies may work well in protected markets, the propensity of governing authorities to reduce barriers, as well as lowered entry costs, has resulted in the opening up of markets to increased competition. A multi-framed approach is not only desirable in order to address the challenges of increased competition, it is in fact a necessary precondition to working within those markets.


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Criticisms of a multi-framed approach





Clearly, Bolman and Deal are against what they see as prevailing management practice of viewing most problems from one perspective within their framework.


Ideally, managers combine multiple frames into a comprehensive approach to leadership


Examples given by Bolman and Deal of the use reframing approach are often hypothetical and academic. Their examples are also often retrospective. A manager who works in the here and now is not able to conceive of their organization in the future . Cognitive limits exist in the extent to which multiple frames can be conceived and communicated. As well as the limitations inherent in the world ultimately being framed in the language of common business parlance . Aside from academic criticisms of reframing, the ability of management to enact change in an organization is limited by an individual managers lack of control over a situation or his or her lack of power


Given the limitations of a multi-framed approach there is a propensity towards arguing for managers to develop strong competencies in a particular area to align themselves with their organizations core strategic values. Examples in Bolman and Deals work are dominated by real world situations of managers characterized as working within specific frameworks, often achieving exceptional outcomes. Few empirical examples of managers actively working within multiple frameworks are provided other than imagined ones. In fact in outlining their reasons for advocating a multi-framed approach Bolman and Deal are merely prescriptive. Contrary to their intended aim, Bolman and Deal have shown by empirical example that commitment to durable values is more of a salient factor in determining outcomes than elastic strategies .


In arguing for a Multi-framed approach Dunbar have advanced the idea that competitive pressures necessitate change. For that change to be effective firms must expose themselves to risk by employing exploratory measures to enact novel means to adapt to an unstable business environment . A deframing approach can inform such measures.


However , there may be limitations to the types of organizations that need to embrace such an approach. Established firms have the benefit of being able to create contingencies by devoting resources to forward planning. Some firms have been able to carve a stable niche in an unchanging industry. Some organizations operate in protected markets or have reached a dominant foothold in an industry and occupy near monopoly status in multiple segments within a market.


Counter Criticisms


It is difficult to think of companies that have not had to react to threats from less significant entities or adapt to the imposition of increased regulation. Perhaps the most graphic example of both of these pressures is Microsofts recent concerns over its obligations to comply with U.S. legislation in the bundling of its operating system, leading to the possible forced breakup of the company As well as its decision to abandon its development of Java technology due to Suns antitrust suit Microsoft also faces substantial competition in the area of desktop operating system software. For over a decade the desktop operating system has been Microsofts mainstay in providing revenue to support its diversification into the business enterprise software and entertainment , and consumer electronics markets .


The German interior ministry has stated an explicit policy to move away from proprietary software in an effort to stem rising, recurrent capital outflows. This is starting to influence contracts at the regional government level. The South Australian government has recently stated an objective to allow Linux an equal standing in competitive tenders to its proprietary equivalents and has moved to enact this into legislation. In this instance competition has come from the open source movement . An essentially structureless, global, infinitely flat entity that cannibalizes its products as a matter of course. Inherently it is an organization driven by its consumers. The open source movement opitomises many of the extreme characteristics of the new structural form of organization. As a competitor it is a difficult target to engage. Its survival is almost certainly assured since as an organization it does not exist as a legal corporate entity.


New organizational forms have arisen in competitive markets as a reaction to extreme circumstances of competition. The main motivation for businesses to develop into such forms is to achieve a competitive advantage in order to meet the challenges of survival in the marketplace. Competition has been intensified by large companies achieving synergistic alliances with organizations in an attempt to create structural contingencies and gain market share. Criticism of the use of a reframing approach in the management of organizations do not take into account the benefits of an exploratory approach to address the challenges that exist in hyper- competitive environments .


A dominant factor in ensuring the survival of an organization is its ability to manage change in cases of extreme environmental flux. The rise of new organizational forms has come about as a result of increasingly open markets with more players of differing sizes and strengths, offering a wider array of services to an increasingly global marketplace. More recently issues of corporate governance have become an issue exposing firms to legislative restrictions. The rise of the super-fund also exposes the company to an increased democratization and a need for increased accountability to shareholders. .


A reframing approach is not only relevant in creating viable contingencies by planning for experimental forays into new markets to drive profits. A multi-framed approach is relevant to managers as markets and firms themselves begin to resemble highly pressurized political arenas. Such political factors are evident not only externally in the organizations environment , but also internally in the form of intra-departmental competition. A multi-framed approach becomes increasingly relevant to individuals working in organizations where


The image of firm control and crisp rationality often attributed to managers has little relevance to the messy world of complexity, conflict and uncertainty that they inhabit.


Palmer and Dunford in their survey of organizational forms cite the network as being one of the most popular forms rising out of a hyper-competitive context. Generally, new organizational forms are held together by relationship building in an environment that necessitates the frequent switching of contexts amongst affiliated entities of varying allegiances to the core organization. A managers ability to maintain a mental image of the four frames that make up the organization can also be helpful in promoting an organizational identity to its disparate constituent parts characterized by fuzzy boundaries, outsourced labor and high staff turnover. Bolman and Deal frequently describe the difficulties encountered in attempting to facilitate communication between individuals who view the organization through conflicting, singular frames of reference.


New organizational forms offer challenges to managers not only in the political sphere. In the structural frame challenges of maintaining flexible strategic links are paramount. In the human resource frame the challenge of maintaining a core operating framework and facilitating knowledge transfer exist. In the cultural frame, identifying and promoting a set of core values to encourage co-ordinated work efforts is important.


Conclusion


It has been argued that a multi-framed approach is not only a desirable alternative to a single framed approach, it is necessary. Such an approach is enabling in a sense that it allows a manager to manage change in their organization and adapt to increasingly inconstant, competitive business environments. However, managers need to balance a single frame dominated approach emphasizing core values with one that is experimental and creates new contingencies. At times they must occupy the paradoxical position of operating within multiple frameworks to encourage the promotion of a simplified single view to a broader audience. Bolman and Deal advocate a general approach toward viewing the world through multiple lenses. Yet there are few simple rules as to how to operate successfully within multiple frameworks. The alternative is to react to competitive pressures as they arise using existing competencies. The speed and extent to which markets have undergone substantial change and the ability of other market entities to flexibly adapt to change is increasingly making this option untenable.





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