The decision of who makes the decisions

Statistics show that 36% of us are frequently connecting to work after hours. Our workplaces are now linked to us 24 hours through avenues such as email and Facebook which makes it difficult to ‘switch off’ (TD Magazine 2014). As the readings make obvious, communication is becoming the economy and there is a convergence of our work and home lives (Kelly 1999, Deuze 2006, Gregg 2008).

With the divide between work and home life become blurred we are working more than ever, but are we gaining any more control in these organisations as a result?

What is interesting is that you would assume that these organisations would have a flat structure but may are remaining hierarchical. Hierarchical structures allow less opportunity for control at lower levels (Deuze 2006). In these large and complex networks, their formal structure remains vertical but their information work is not. In the lecture, it was pointed out that the more nodes involved in decision-making, the longer it takes and the higher the transactional costs. Lower transaction costs result from giving workers the permission to make decisions.

This then brings us to the notion of formal structures and their relation to employee participation. Nico Carpentier (2013) said:

“The existence of a formal organisational structure allows an explicit definition as (one of) the objectives of the organisation, which commits the people involved and embeds the notion of participation in the material practices of the organisation, at the levels of decision-making procedures and production practices.”

It is evident through this and other work of Carpentier that he links decision-making to participation. The organisation must be structured to enable everyone to participate in this decision-making and feel involved. Henry Jenkins (2013) responds to Carpentier’s point in saying that networked communications support much more fluid and decentralised structures.

So perhaps a formal hierarchical structure was better suited to industrial assembly lines in the 1900s and a change is needed to remain on top in the new information-based society. The free flow of information evident today dictates local, real-time decision-making.

 

References

Jenkins, H, & Carpentier, N 2013, Theorizing participatory intensities: A conversation about participation and politics, In Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, viewed 20 August 2014, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/266565/mod_resource/content/1/Jenkins%20Carpentier%202013.pdf&gt;.

Gregg, M 2008, Function Creep: Communication technologies and anticipatory labour in the information workplace, viewed 20 August 2014, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/245657/mod_resource/content/1/Gregg%2C%20M.%20-%20Function%20creep.pdf&gt;.

 Deuze, M 2006, Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work, Indiana University, viewed 20 August 2014, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/245658/mod_resource/content/1/Deuze%2C%20M.%20-%20Liquid%20Life.pdf&gt;.

 Kelly, K 1999, ‘This new economy’. In New Rules for the new Economy, viewed 20 August 2014, <http://kk.org/newrules/newrules-intro.html&gt;.

TD Magazine 2014, ‘Technology Threatens Work-Life Balance, But Most Employees Say That’s OK’, TD Magazine, viewed 20 August 2014, <http://www.astd.org/Publications/Magazines/TD/TD-Archive/2014/08/Intelligence-Technology-Threatens-Work-Life-Balance&gt;.

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4 thoughts on “The decision of who makes the decisions

  1. I agree that the formal hierarchical structure could be a little outdated in todays networked society. I think we will see an ever growing change of organisation structures to account for this as well. If you could find an example of an organisation to back this it would be a great addition to the post! A little grammatical error third paragraph, second line (many* instead of may). Otherwise great post.

  2. This is so true! There hasn’t been a day where myself or a family member haven’t come home from work to sit at home to do more work instead of having time away from it! But in return there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t sat in a lecture or been at work and checked my Twitter and Facebook multiple times every hour or two. So dependant on it and we can’t seem to create the divide between work and play!

  3. This was a great take on this weeks topic. The fact you explored how businesses are functioning with the growing impact of technology was very interesting as it was a different approach to other posts I have read. You have incorporated various links and the readings very well, adding validity and support to your ideas.

  4. May I first add that having the in-text references hyperlinked made it so much easier! Thank you.

    Carpentier’s link between decision-making and participation is very interesting, and quite modern. I like Henry Jenkins response of saying it supports a more fluid structure, as I think all organisations could benefit from a more decentralised, distributive nature.

    I agree with your conclusion that the hierarchical structure was probably more suited in the industrial work places. Now we have the technology and knowledge to support an open collaboration between workers, which would probably make for better, well-rounded results anyway. I think that the more people involved in a decision making process, the more the end result will benefit, would you agree?

    I think it might have been beneficial to have elaborated a little more on why the distribution of power at lower levels is more efficient in this information-based society.

    Other than that, thanks for an insightful and thought-provoking read!

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