ESSAY BUSTING BUREAUCRACY: WHY HIGHLY CONTROLLED MACHINE ORGANIZATIONS MUST DIE EVEN IN MATURE INDUSTRIES – FINDING NEW WAYS TO DEAL WITH FAILURE.
Busting Bureaucracy: Why highly controlled machine organizations must die even in mature industries – Finding new ways to deal with failure.
“Fail earlier to succeed sooner” – Michael Dell, founder of Dell Inc.
When Henry Ford introduced the principles of highly standardized jobs to automotive manufacturing at the dawn of the 20th century it revolutionized a whole industry. Higher efficiency, less costs, and increased margins for the Ford Motor Company justified the approach that turned workers into robots (Ritzer, 2013). The last two decades of organizational structure research yielded a number of publications that addressed the benefits of the bureaucratic organization as Max Weber and Frederick Taylor understood it. Such as stable job environments, ability for job specialization, personal responsibility, as well as self-direction (Adler and Borys, 1996; du Gay, 2000; Goodsell, 2004; Sennett, 1998). However, an even bigger body of research reveals various negative effects this organizational structure entails. The following paper will show why even mature industries like automotive production needs to embrace a more intelligent failure culture instead of using the common planning and control obsessed management style bureaucratic organizations opt for. After outlining the importance for a paradigm shift to a new way of dealing with failure, the essay will lead the discussion by showing how the Swedish car manufacturer Volvo is already embedding this new way of thinking into their organization to become more flexible, push inter-firm learning, and keep a competitive edge. By doing so they try to walk on the thin line between economies of scale and a real innovative machine organization. Building on the arguments, suggestions will be made to successfully utilize this culture in machine organizations and bust...