Organization as domination

I wrote this post for a class I’m taking on organizational dynamics. I know that normally I write about technical things here but this directly applies to the IT world and is food for thought for our role as IT within the greater organization.

One of the things that I struggle with in my current role is the tension between freedom/creativity and bureaucracy/structure. I have seen the devastation that comes from organizations that have a ‘Wild West’ philosophy where everyone is able to do as they please. The end result is mayhem and un-productivity. However, I have seen the exact opposite where an organization is so structured and bureaucratic that working in that organization feels often like a prison. Gareth Morgan (2006) addresses this in his book Images of Organization. He writes:

(Max) Weber is famous among organization theorists for his work on the nature of bureaucracy. However, his main concern was to understand how different societies and epochs are characterized by different forms of social domination. He viewed bureaucracy as a special mode of social domination and was interested in the role of bureaucratic organizations in creating and sustaining structures of domination. (pg 294)

Like my previous post, I agree with Morgan (2006) and Weber in the concept of bureaucratic organizations can be structures of domination. Weber came up with 3 types of domination that he gathered from historical research. (see attached jpg taken from pg 295). I struggle because I see myself sometimes in the ‘rational-legal’ category. I wonder about the impact I’m having on my organization. Am I dominating our people with rules and procedures? Am I stifling creativity with bureaucracy? Obviously there needs to be a tension but where does that tension rest? Any ideas?