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Swedish professors Malin Bolin and Annika Harenstam wondered if companies

Question : Swedish professors Malin Bolin and Annika Harenstam wondered if companies : 5357

Swedish professors Malin Bolin and Annika Harenstam wondered if companies today are more bureaucratic (hierarchical, centralized, and formal) or more post-bureaucratic (flat, decentralized, and flexible). They studied 90 companies and found that many had characteristics of both models. For example, 53% of companies had low levels of centralization (a post-bureaucratic characteristic) although the majority of companies (63%) also had some degree of project organization (a bureaucratic characteristic).

Bolin and Harenstam suggested that their findings were important because they contradict one of the most famous contingency theories ever developed. In 1961, research by Burns and Stalker showed that successful organizations in stable environments were likely to have a rigid, hierarchical structure (a bureaucracy similar to the one advocated by classical management theories). Burns and Stalker also found that successful organizations in turbulent environments were likely to have a more flexible structure (a post-bureaucracy similar to the one advocated by learning organization theorists). Today, because companies today operate in turbulent environments with stiff competition and a great deal of change, you might expect them to have a post-bureaucratic structure. However, Bolin and Harenstam showed that this is not necessarily true.

Bolin and Harenstam proposed that differences in organizational structure might be related to the type of industry in which the organization operated. Their results showed significant differences in organizational design between companies in seven of eight industries. For example, manufacturing companies had low specialization of work (a post-bureaucratic characteristic) but high use of performance control (a bureaucratic characteristic). In contrast, customer service had high levels of specialization and centralization (bureaucratic characteristics) but also high individual responsibility and low soft control systems (post-bureaucratic characteristics).

The contingency in Burns and Stalker’s research was the:

a) environment

b) individual organization

c) type of industry

Which of the following presents a critical problem when trying to compare Bolin and Harenstam’s research results with those of Burns and Stalker?

a) Bolin and Harenstam did not measure organizational effectiveness.

b) All of the organizations in the study were operating in the same industry.

c) More companies had bureaucratic than post-bureaucratic features.

d) All of the organizations in the study had both bureaucratic and post-bureaucratic features.

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