Post-Bureaucratic Management

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Management Practices: Shifting from Managerialism to Critical Management Studies/Stakeholders Perspectives

Over the past decade management practices have been shifting from Managerialism to critical management studies/stakeholders perspectives. Critical Management Studies (CMS) has been used to critique traditional/bureaucratic approaches of Management Studies (Wickert &Schaefer, 2015, p.115). It is open to skepticism towards ecological and social management practices. CMS’ motivation is to address environmental destructiveness and social injustices that occur due to prevailing management practices. The aim of CMS is to provide alternatives to management theories and change management practice. The shift from bureaucratic to post-bureaucratic management was influenced by the move from standard production of goods and services to an era of niche production.

Managerialism: The Emphasis on Hierarchy and Traditional Leadership

Managerialism puts a lot of emphasis on managers and is not open to employees’ opinions. Hierarchy system of management is considered to be managerialism/bureaucratic. Traditional leadership is being eroded away and the focus is now on what one can deliver compared to holding glorified status (Klikauer, 2015, p.1112). Post-bureaucratic management involves a collective decision-making process through consensus or dialogue.

Critique of Post-Bureaucratic Management: Dialogue and Authority

According to Donnellon and Hecksher, Post-bureaucracy management does not exist in an ideal world (Donnellon et al, 2003, p.326). They critique that the new era desires to replace power with persuasion which is preferred with stakeholders. The organization is in constant interaction with all participants. Post-bureaucracy management makes decisions through consensus. It is criticized on how dialogue can deny a sense of authority. Consultations encourage innovation and creativity to thrive in organizations.

Benefits and Limitations of Post-Bureaucratic Systems

Performance is guaranteed to be high since responsibility is only given to those who qualify and deserve it. The merit system is used in awarding duties and responsibility (Malizia et al 2017, p.22). Power is shifted from the management to the employees. Cooperate control of the organization is still held by the management. Communal spirit is fostered in a post-bureaucratic system. The organizational goals are maintained while business development is encouraged as employees’ ideas and contribution are incorporated into operations of the company. Employees are highly motivated by the soft stance the management takes and allows them to be involved. However, the ‘soft’ powers used by the management may lead to staff resistance of change and the procedure of taking disciplinary action may prove to be difficult. The same makes it difficult in implementing innovative ideas and get the desired change (Dischner 2015, p.510). One of the major setbacks of the post-bureaucratic systems is that it becomes difficult to resolve a conflict. There is limited respect for authority as employees view each other as peers. Change fails to occur since the workers fail to understand the implementation process.

Bureaucracy: Characteristics and Limitations

Crozier in his book Bureaucratic Phenomenon (1964) was quoted saying,” A bureaucratic organization is an organization that cannot correct its behavior by learning from its error. Weber defines bureaucracy as an administrative system that accomplishes administrative tasks thorough coordinated structures. A bureaucratic system of management is characterized by official operational and management records, impersonal relationship, office rules, division of labor/work and existence of administrative classes (Hatch 2018, p.22). Bureaucracy is faced with immense red tape. It is difficult to make decisions because there is laid out process and procedures which must be followed. Flexibility in decision making is hindered thus can slow down operations.

Impersonal Approach and Lack of Employee Motivation in Bureaucratic Systems

Employees’ loyalty to the organization is limited because they feel left out in decision making. It discourages innovation and creative thinking. Over-reliance on rules, regulations, and policy by employees’ makes it difficult for them to adapt to change. There is a disregard for the human factor in a bureaucratic system as employees are treated as machines. However, bureaucracy brings along consistency since there are predefined procedures of their conduct. Reduces the chances of redundancy and conflict of jobs. It encourages workers to specialize therefore improving performance and output.

Modern Organizations: Technology and Post-Bureaucracy

In modern organizations bureaucracy is considered as a cause of inefficiency. The impersonal approach in bureaucratic organization disregards employees’ sentiments, feelings, and motion which leads to a lack of respect for rules. The overemphasis on a superior-subordinate setup interferes with employees' relationship which hinders proper coordination of efforts. The dawn of a new era is characterized by the use of technology. Management information systems (MIS) have been developed to get rid of traditional red tapes in organizational operations. The use of information technology has radically changed management practices. A large number of operations can be controlled and coordinated from a central place. The same has led to the emergence of headquarters whose main role is supervisory. Organizations are adopting Enterprise resource planning systems (ERPS) to automate operations, share and produce information in real-time (Geislar 2015, p.102).

Embrace Change and Innovation: The Importance of Post-Bureaucracy

The post-bureaucracy is the most efficient way to bring change and innovation in an organization. The bureaucratic organization ensures consistency in employee behavior, but the business environment is dynamic. Firms need to adopt innovative practices and embrace change in order to keep up with globalization. The best management practice is to embrace technology and post-bureaucracy systems. Change is inevitable in modern society and organization must develop the management practices in order to meet their goals and objectives.


Wickert, C. and Schaefer, S.M., 2015. Towards a progressive understanding of performativity in critical management studies. Human relations, 68(1), pp.107-130.

Krackhardt, D., Heckscher, C. and Donnellon, A., 2003. Constraints on the interactive organization as an ideal type. Networks in the Knowledge Economy. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp.324-335.

Klikauer, T., 2015. What is managerialism? Critical Sociology, 41(7-8), pp.1103-1119.

Malizia, P., Cannavale, C. and Maimone, F. eds., 2017. Evolution of the Post-bureaucratic Organization. IGI Global.

Dischner, S., 2015. Organizational structure, organizational form, and counterproductive work behavior: A competitive test of the bureaucratic and post-bureaucratic views. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 31(4), pp.501-514.

Hatch, M.J., 2018. Organization theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives. Oxford university press.

Geisler, E. and Wickramasinghe, N., 2015. Principles of Knowledge Management: Theory, Practice, and Cases: Theory, Practice, and Cases. Routledge.

October 24, 2023
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Organization Bureaucracy

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