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Changing Organisations Gender, Bureaucracy and Culture

Changing Organisations Gender, Bureaucracy and Culture 20 Management Research News Volume 15 Number 5/6 1992 do need to attend to the functional needs that Weber Changing Organisations: Gender, identified, they can develop cultures that might be able to Bureaucracy and Culture work against the dominance of patriarchal assumptions. This might enable organisations to be formed that are efficient at performing their primary task but do not op­ Karen Ramsay and Martin Parker press their members in so doing. The current debates (StaffordshirePolytechnic) about flexibility and new organisational forms may provide an opening for such a move but this is by no means "Bureaucratic and patriarchal structures are guaranteed. Organisational transformation depends on antagonistic in many ways, yet they have in common understanding both constraint and freedom in the organi­ a most important peculiarity: permanence. In this sational context and gender is one of the terrains upon respect they are both institutions of daily routine. (...) which this may be achieved. The patriarch is the 'natural leader' of the daily routine. And in this respect, the bureaucratic structure is only the counter-image of patriarchalism transposed into rationality". (Weber in Gerth and Mills For Max Weber, 1948, p. 245). In that quote Weber captured much of what we will argue in this paper. Though we understand 'patriarchal­ ism' in a far more critical sense than he presumably in­ tended at that time, the idea that bureaucracy is rationalised patriarchy is clearly there. So too is the idea that these structures are based on 'daily routine' - the cultural practices of actors in organised contexts. How­ ever, against Weber's pessimism about the 'iron cage' this will be a paper which assumes that it is not enough to theorise the relationship between gender and bureau­ cracy: what is important is to offer ways of changing it. In that sense we wish to put forward a theory of the reproduc­ tion of gender inequalities in organisations that may aid our understanding of change strategies. The paper will proceed along the following lines. The first section will outline our understanding of the relation­ ship between the terms bureaucracy, gender and organi­ sational culture. In it we will suggest that the dominant modes of operationalisation of the bureaucratic ideal type are intimately related to patriarchal and capitalist assump­ tions about the nature of work in organisations. These structural pressures are then interpreted in each organisa­ tion by and through the specific cultures of that organisa­ tion. We suggest this is an important step because it relates general structural pressures to the actions of spe­ cific groups of agents in reproducing these pressures. The next sections will contain reviews of the literature on firstly, structural, and secondly, the cultural influences on the reproduction of patriarchy within organisations in an at­ tempt to illustrate the importance of the theoretical argu­ ment presented in the first two sections. The next section will offer some suggestions as to how the preceding argument might be used t o understand how organisations might be changed in an enduring way. In it we will propose two more ideal types, the anti-bureau­ cracy and the neo-bureaucracy, in an attempt to show that organisations can be different whilst still recognising the strength of the Weberian problematic. We will conclude in the discussion by suggesting that, whilst all organisations http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Management Research News Emerald Publishing

Changing Organisations Gender, Bureaucracy and Culture

Management Research News , Volume 15 (5/6): 1 – May 1, 1992

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0140-9174
DOI
10.1108/eb028216
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

20 Management Research News Volume 15 Number 5/6 1992 do need to attend to the functional needs that Weber Changing Organisations: Gender, identified, they can develop cultures that might be able to Bureaucracy and Culture work against the dominance of patriarchal assumptions. This might enable organisations to be formed that are efficient at performing their primary task but do not op­ Karen Ramsay and Martin Parker press their members in so doing. The current debates (StaffordshirePolytechnic) about flexibility and new organisational forms may provide an opening for such a move but this is by no means "Bureaucratic and patriarchal structures are guaranteed. Organisational transformation depends on antagonistic in many ways, yet they have in common understanding both constraint and freedom in the organi­ a most important peculiarity: permanence. In this sational context and gender is one of the terrains upon respect they are both institutions of daily routine. (...) which this may be achieved. The patriarch is the 'natural leader' of the daily routine. And in this respect, the bureaucratic structure is only the counter-image of patriarchalism transposed into rationality". (Weber in Gerth and Mills For Max Weber, 1948, p. 245). In that quote Weber captured much of what we will argue in this paper. Though we understand 'patriarchal­ ism' in a far more critical sense than he presumably in­ tended at that time, the idea that bureaucracy is rationalised patriarchy is clearly there. So too is the idea that these structures are based on 'daily routine' - the cultural practices of actors in organised contexts. How­ ever, against Weber's pessimism about the 'iron cage' this will be a paper which assumes that it is not enough to theorise the relationship between gender and bureau­ cracy: what is important is to offer ways of changing it. In that sense we wish to put forward a theory of the reproduc­ tion of gender inequalities in organisations that may aid our understanding of change strategies. The paper will proceed along the following lines. The first section will outline our understanding of the relation­ ship between the terms bureaucracy, gender and organi­ sational culture. In it we will suggest that the dominant modes of operationalisation of the bureaucratic ideal type are intimately related to patriarchal and capitalist assump­ tions about the nature of work in organisations. These structural pressures are then interpreted in each organisa­ tion by and through the specific cultures of that organisa­ tion. We suggest this is an important step because it relates general structural pressures to the actions of spe­ cific groups of agents in reproducing these pressures. The next sections will contain reviews of the literature on firstly, structural, and secondly, the cultural influences on the reproduction of patriarchy within organisations in an at­ tempt to illustrate the importance of the theoretical argu­ ment presented in the first two sections. The next section will offer some suggestions as to how the preceding argument might be used t o understand how organisations might be changed in an enduring way. In it we will propose two more ideal types, the anti-bureau­ cracy and the neo-bureaucracy, in an attempt to show that organisations can be different whilst still recognising the strength of the Weberian problematic. We will conclude in the discussion by suggesting that, whilst all organisations

Journal

Management Research NewsEmerald Publishing

Published: May 1, 1992

There are no references for this article.