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Contrasting two ORG models

Bureaucracy (Machine Org.)


Adhocracy (Innovative Org.)

Source: Henri Mintzberg, Mintzberg on Management, NYC: Basic Books, 1998.

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From Simple Contrast to a More Realistic Look

Contrasting these two models of org. management  (Bureaucracy vs. Adhoc.) like this is convenient but far too simple. In the real world ORG managers may not be strictly loyal to just one model or the other. Often they introduce more "professional" management (formal bureaucratic structure) to bring more order and efficiency to a startup that grew very big, very fast - and messy. After those changes they might find they are losing market share to more innovative competitors. So they introduce project teams and other Adhoc methods, hoping to get more creativity and less frustration (for workers and customers). That is the root of the Both/And challenge.

        In the academic world of ORG studies Bureaucracy was the classic concept since Max Weber. It made possible the Industrial Revolution and the modern world of mass production. But around mid-20th century advocates of un-bureaucracy got busy, promoting the ideas of Adhocracy.

(Ref - Peters, Waterman, Mintzberg).  

        In fact many ORGs are awkward hybrids of these two models (Bureaucracy & Adhoc.) combined in many different ways; maybe different combinations in different areas of the same ORG. There will be a rationale for why a certain combination is used in each area (say, a certain product team in a certain market, at a certain stage of development) and a rationale for how that team relates to its partner teams which are not on quite the same wavelength

    Helping teams to manage excessive difficulties with these collaborations becomes a central part of middle managers' duties in hybrid and adhocratic ORGs. The disciplines of Org. Learning are important here and as experience is gained and shared, this knowledge becomes a valuable part of an ORG's culture and human/social capital. 

The ability to see and manage these Both/And challenges has become an inescapable part of ORG life and management at the highest levels.

More on this subject.



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