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Driving Forces and a New Organizational Paradigm

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

Sections of This Article Include

Driving Forces of Change
Traits of the New Paradigm

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Driving Forces of Change

Around the 1960s and on to today, the environment of today's organizations has changed a great deal. A variety of driving forces provoke this change. Increasing telecommunications has "shrunk" the world substantially. Increasing diversity of workers has brought in a wide array of differing values, perspectives and expectations among workers. Public consciousness has become much more sensitive and demanding that organizations be more socially responsible. Much of the third-world countries has joined the global marketplace, creating a wider arena for sales and services. Organizations became responsible not only to stockholders (those who owned stock) but to a wider community of "stakeholders."

As a result of the above driving forces, organizations were required to adopt a "new paradigm," or view on the world, to be more sensitive, flexible and adaptable to the demands and expectations of stakeholder demands. Many organizations have abandoned or are abandoning the traditional top-down, rigid and hierarchical structures to more "organic" and fluid forms.

Today's leaders and/or managers must deal with continual, rapid change. Managers faced with a major decision can no longer refer back to an earlier developed plan for direction. Management techniques must continually notice changes in the environment and organization, assess this change and manage change. Managing change does not mean controlling it, rather understanding it, adapting to it where necessary and guiding it when possible.

Managers can't know it all or reference resources for every situation. Managers must count on and listen more to their employees. Consequently, new forms of organizations are becoming more common, e.g., worker-centered teams, self-organizing and self-designing teams.

Traits of the New Paradigm

Marilyn Ferguson, in The New Paradigm: Emerging Strategic for Leadership and Organizational Change (Michael Ray and Alan Rinzler, Eds., 1993, New Consciousness Reader), provides a very concise overview of the differences between the old and new paradigm. (The following is summarized.)

Old Paradigm

New Paradigm

promote consumption at all costs appropriate consumption
people to fit jobs jobs to fit people
imposed goals, top-down decision making autonomy encouraged, worker participation
fragmentation in work and roles cross-fertilization by specialists seeing wide relevance
identification with job identity transcends job description
clock model of company recognition of uncertainty
aggression, competition cooperation
work and play are separate blurring of work and play
manipulation and dominance cooperation with nature
struggle for stability sense of change, of becoming
quantitative qualitative as well as quantitative
strictly economic motives spiritual value transcends material gain
polarized transcends polarities
short-sighted ecologically sensitive
rational rational and intuitive
emphasis on short-term solutions recognition that long-range efficiency must take into account harmonious work environment
centralized operations decentralized operations when possible
runaway, unbridled technology appropriate technology
allopathic treatment of symptoms attempt to understand the whole, locate deep underlying causes of disharmony

This Article is in a Series About Understanding Organizational Structures and Design

This article is the seventh in the series which includes:

1. What is an Organization?
2. What Makes Each Organization Unique
3. How They're the Same: They're Systems
4. Basic Overview of Life Cycles in Organizations
5. Basic Overview of Organizational Culture
6. Legal Forms and Traditional Structures of Organizations
7. Driving Forces and a New Organizational Paradigm
8. Emerging Nature and New Organizational Structures and Design
9. Basic Guidelines for Organizational Design
10. Wrap Up: Grasping the Big Picture in Organizations (video)

Learn More in the Library's Blogs Related to Organizations

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Library's Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Nonprofit Capacity Building Blog

For the Category of Organizational Development:

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