Structures shape organizations’ actions. Through our actions, we reinforce those structures, creating stability, or we attempt to change them.
The above chapter explored some ways through which the structures of rationality and power operate in organizations. Through the above insights, we can become more conscious about the systems that govern social systems, which will allow us to be more effective in the actions we choose to take.
Social systems such as organizations can be complicated as inter- and intra-organizational groups act to advance their interests. Taking action often requires a coordinated effort from multiple groups. Resistance from other groups is a constant threat with which we must contend.
The next two chapters discuss how we can combine values, rationality, and power to create wise organizational action.
How rationality enables and constrains action
- Rationality enables action
- Rationality justifies actions
- Bureaucratic rationality gives action structure
- Rationality constrains action
- Rationality argues against actions
- Bureaucratic rationality can stifle action
How individuals may overcome the constraining nature of social structures
- Individuals may use different forms of rationality to overcome constraining structures.
How rationality and power interact
- Power gives rationality the force to enable or constrain actions.
- Power gives rationality the capacity to overcome constraining structures.
- Power gives rationality the ability to define reality.
- It is through bureaucratic rationality that power is reified
- In organizations, bureaucratic rationality may take official and unofficial forms.
- You learn bureaucratic rationality by developing your institutional and contextual rationality
In the critical realist framework, social structures are forces in social settings that enable or constrain the actions people can take.
To reify something is to make something that is intangible into something a bit more concrete.