Good Article Review About Tightening The Iron Cage: Concertive Control In Self-Managing Teams
ARTICLE REVIEW FORM
Seminar Reading: Barker, J., R., (1993) Tightening the Iron Cage: Concertive Control in Self-Managing Teams, Administrative Science Quarterly, 38.
What do you understand about the concept of the ‘self-managing team’?
For decades, organizations were seeking alternative strategies to sustain control over employees to pursue the goodwill of the organization, and concertive control introduced a concept of self-managing teams. A ‘self-managing’ team may refer to a small, organized, and well-managed team of employees with autonomy to determine the plans and approaches for completing organizational duties and tasks. The team may consist of at least two employees working together and assisting each other in realizing a common goal without the need for organizational supervision and management. The team activities may range from managing their workload or having primary responsibility in the production of a good or delivery of a service. It implies the members assume both managerial and operational responsibilities, and accountability. This concept is not new but was disregarded in the 20th century due to lack of changes witnessed in society today.
How was the new approach to organizing work in the company described by Barker (self-managing teams) different from the previous approach?
The self-managing team concept of concertive control strategy was a radical change in the traditional managerial authority structure of modern organizations. Instead of concentrating on inflexible hierarchical and bureaucratic structures that limited innovation and creativity, self-managing team’s concept introduced worker-run teams that eliminated unneeded managers and supervisors that made the traditional system rigid. This collaborative, hand-off worker management approach contrasted hierarchical supervision proposed by the traditional bureaucratic strategies. Moreover, self-managing teams led to led to a change in organizational structure, as the focus shifted from managers, supervisors, and other bureaucratic staff of employees. The supervisory structures were replaced by participatory structures because workers had more experiences at worker than employees in a traditional system. In a self-managing team, the members had to plan, manage, and account for their activities in realizing the collective will of the organization because of lack of supervision.
3. What was the effect of self-managing teams of the workers?
Today, human resources are the only means an organization can realize a sustained competitive advantage, and self-managing teams have an unimaginable impact on employees. Not only do these groups make companies more productive and competitive, workers have the freedom to manage themselves in responsive, small, and productive groups. It ensures they remain motivated and productive. Moreover, self-supervision ensures employees remain motivated in carrying out organization tasks and duties. As a result, it is easy for employees to remain committed to organizational goals and objectives to ensure success. However, these teams can lead to increased employee control in absence of supervisors because employees are obliged to comply with goals and tasks set by team members immediately in order to realize organizational goals and objectives.
4. Was the change good?
No, shift from traditional to alternative strategies was inevitable owing to unimaginable changes in modern society. Following the failings of despotic strategies of control in traditional society, organizations adopted a decentralized system of control but failed to resolve the Iron Cage problem, which characterized the traditional hierarchical structures. Concertive control can become stronger than bureaucratic control because it increases the control of systems in the entire organization. The employees in an organization are continuously involved in completing duties and tasks in the face of competition from team members and are scrutinized by team members than in a traditional system. The creation of normative rules and emergence of peer management only serves to limit employees within the organization without the need for supervisors and other bureaucratic leaders. Consequently, the concertive control strategy to organizational control decentralizes only the supervision of duties and roles, but fails to decentralize power and control because individual employees act as reinforces of organizational control in a group settings.