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   Questions on reading for topic 8


Excerpt from Morgan, G. (2006) Images of Organisation Sage, London.


The book from which this chapter came is one of the best selling and widely read academic books on management of all time.  The book itself is structured around a series of ‘images’ (or metaphors) of organisations.  This chapter focuses upon the ‘machine metaphor’ which is a way of viewing organisations as if they were like machines: ordered, controlled, unemotional, regimented systems.  This mode of thinking about organisations, according to Morgan, has long dominated management thought and practice, particularly around issues of structure and strategy, with both some productive and some highly negative results.  This chapter is a useful place, therefore, from which to begin to reflect upon the meta-issues that surround and inform discussions of strategy and structure in organisations.


  1. What is the main argument of this chapter and how is the work structured to develop this argument?


  1. Why is the ‘management observation checklist’ from a fast food restaurant (p. 14), an example of a mechanistic approach to organization?


  1. Considering Frederick the Great’s reorganisation of the army:
    1. What problem was Frederick trying to overcome?
    2. How did he reorganise the army to overcome this?
  • Why was this an example of a mechanistic approach to organisation?


  1. In discussing Classical Management Theory, Morgan (2006: 18) writes that:


‘When an engineer designs a machine the task it to define a network of interdependent parts arranged in a specific sequence and anchored by precisely defined points of resistance and rigidity.  The classical theorists were attempting to achieve a similar design in their approach to organization’  

  1. Explain how this relates to hierarchical organisational structures, as depicted in organisational charts.
  2. What might the pervasiveness of such organisational charts in modern organisations tell us about the prevalence of mechanistic thinking today?


  1. Morgan (2006) argues that Taylorism and Fordism, two concepts we have explored before, are clear examples of mechanistic approaches to organisation. Explain this argument.


  1. On page 25, Morgan (2006) asserts that Taylorism was ‘part of a much broader social trend involving the mechanization of life generally’. Explain this intriguing argument and illustrate it with reference to several areas of everyday life today.


  1. What, according to Morgan, are the strengths and weaknesses of a mechanistic view of organisations?


  1. Finally, explain the following quote:


‘Much of the apathy, carelessness, and lack of pride so often encountered in the modern workplace is thus not coincidental: it is fostered by the mechanistic approach.’ (Morgan 2006: 30)



Questions on reading for topic 9


Excerpt from Klein, N. (2000) No Logo, London, Flamingo.


This examination of the nature of globalised production and branding was published in the year 2000 and very quickly became an international best-seller, receiving rave  reviews from both the general book-buying public and many academic audiences.  In the chapter we consider here, cultural critic and journalist Naomi Klein examines the conditions of labour and production in our economically globalised world.  With her combination of detailed empirical evidence and accessible journalistic prose Klein’s chapter makes for compelling, and disturbing, reading and gives us much to reflect upon concerning the nature of management in a globalised/ globalising world.


  1. What is the main argument of this chapter and how is the work structured to develop this argument?


  1. Outline  the nature of the ‘Nike Model’ of outsourcing as Klein (2000) describes it.


  1. What are ‘Economic Processing Zones’? What is the significance of the contribution of these zones to the production of goods and profits in the global economy?  What are the:
    1. typical working conditions
    2. level of wages
  • type of management control, and
  1. profile of the employees in these zones?


  1. What is the likelihood that you are currently wearing clothes or footwear produced by workers in these zones, working under these conditions?


  1. Why do corporations in Australia, the US, the UK, Europe, Japan, etc, outsource production to Economic Processing Zones?


  1. Do managers of corporations (in Australia for example), that have significantly lowered costs by subcontracting out production to those operating in such zones, have a responsibility for monitoring and improving the working conditions of the workers involved?
    1. If yes, why? What part of this responsibility is legal, moral, commercial…..?
    2. If no, why not? And again, what part of your argument is made from legal, moral, and /or commercial grounds?


  1. What are some of the potential dangers of commercial decisions to reduce labour costs by outsourcing production to low wage economies? (n.b. think broadly here, for example, dangers for corporate reputation, for humanity, for global inequality, for future political instability).  Who should consider and act upon such dangers and how?