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The Technostructure versus Morgan's Metaphors

The Technostructure

Applied Theories of John Kenneth Galbraith, Henry Mintzberg, and Gareth Morgan

Handelshøjskolen i Århus, Aarhus School of Business, 2006, HDO Seminar 1, Seminarhold 3.

Abstract: This is a study of the technostructure as described by J.K. Galbraith and Henry Mintzberg. Their notion of the technostructure is compared to Gareth Morgan's eight metaphors in "Images of Organization" to see if Morgan's metaphors can provide new aspects of the technostructure. They can, as I confirm the two research questions.

1. Research Questions

Since I graduated I have been working as a part of salaried staffs, and I have always been wondering whether I took care of the salaried staff's interests instead of the employer's interests in my daily work. This paper is a study of three mature authors' works. What can they tell about the salaried staff, and is it of any use today?

In 1967 John Kenneth Galbraith wrote The New Industrial State. In the book he analyzed his new finding "The Technostructure" as a part of his description of modern economic life. He defines the technostructure as the leadership of the modern industrial enterprise. He found that it is the complex of specialists and technicians that exercise the decisive power. [Note 1]

In 1983 Henry Mintzberg published both Structure in Fives and Power In and Around Organizations, which among other topics describe the technostructure as taking part in the management and development of individual organizations. [Note 2]

In 1986 Gareth Morgan published Images of Organization where he is using various metaphors to scrutinize our perceptions of organization. The book does not treat the notion of the technostructure as such. Second edition was published 1997. [Note 3]

The works of the three authors are the basis for my research questions:

  1. Is Galbraith's and Mintzberg's technostructure providing a useful description of leadership and development in the modern enterprise?
  2. Can Morgan's metaphors provide new aspects on the technostructure?

1.a Delimitations

I narrow my use of economic literature to the three mentioned authors to carry through with a thorough analysis.

1.b Definitions

The technostructure exercises the decisive power in many organizations. It is composed of:

  1. The salaried employees working on planning and marketing
  2. The professional staff involved with complex, individual judgments
  3. The management

(This definition is discussed in details in section 3.b)

1.c Design of the Examination

This is a theoretical study of the economic literature. I have used literature on economics and organization for the theoretical input, internet files, etc.

The power theme is present in both research questions. In general, it is difficult to examine questions of power and receive valid answers because the relative strength and points of view of two parties will not appear until they disagree, and because the powerful will not openly acknowledge their actual or potential use of power.

Further, there may be a problem in the points of view. J.K. Galbraith describes organizations from an external, political-economical point of view while Mintzberg and Morgan mostly describe organizations viewed from within.

There are four considerations one should always take into account in social studies: [Note 4]

  1. Validity: Is this study actually examining what it claims to study?
  2. Reliability: Is the study carried out in a sufficiently exact way?
  3. Representability: Are data and respondents representative?
  4. Method and design: Are the chosen method and combinations of data appropriate?

As this is a theoretical study, there are no data and no respondents. That means that out of the four considerations it is validity and reliability that have importance. I will consider these items in section 5.a after answering the research questions.


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