THE GENOTYPICAL DESIGN PRINCIPLES AND DEMOCRATIZING ORGANIZATIONS

 

DEMOCRATIZING ORGANIZATIONS

Merrelyn Emery

All of us live and/or work in some variety of organizational structure whether it be a family, a small not for profit or a large corporatized formal place of employment. Most of these structures with the exception of many families and voluntary organizations are top down hierarchies of dominance where those above in the hierarchy have the right and the responsibility to tell those below them what to do and how to do it.

INTRODUCTION TO PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN FOR PARTICIPATIVE DEMOCRACY, 1989

Merrelyn Emery, 1989

A new and major wave of activity to democratize is now evident in Australia. It ranges across the Office Structures Review in the Public Service, various second tier wage/productivity agreements signed by major institutions to a continuing sequence of smaller scale changes in both private and public sectors. In short, those who forecast the end of democratization when there was a slackening of interest and a sense of demoralization about the problems involved in the first waves, underestimated the power of a good idea. The immediate sources of the new wave are many but these are less important than the fact that this good idea is now much more in tune with a large proportion of people's aspirations and values.

INTRODUCTION TO PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN FOR PARTICIPATIVE DEMOCRACY, 1993

Merrelyn Emery, 1993

Why a new edition within five years? The simple answer is the extraordinary rate of change in the field. Hidden behind this simple answer are new problems which have arisen directly from previous successes and some clear signals from the field as to where further clarity of concepts and methods is required. The changes between the 1989 edition and today's are an attempt to meet those problems and needs.

THE CONTEXT

Merrelyn Emery

‘The agenda for the Next Wave' details the convergence of the many problems which confront us, to the point where we have become aware that we face not simply an economic but also a cultural crisis; a crisis of western civilization involving a choice of design principle.

THE AGENDA FOR THE NEXT WAVE

Fred Emery, 1985

My concern is with the next agenda that must be engaged upon in the next couple of decades to overcome the essential failure of social science in the postwar years. It has failed to meet, or to contribute in any really deep way (with exceptions) to the programme initiated by Kurt Lewin in his posthumous paper `Frontiers in Group Dynamics' in 1946.

EDUCATIONAL PARADIGMS: AN EPISTEMOLOGICAL REVOLUTION

Fred Emery, 1980

In any process of increasing participation in workplace decision making one inevitably comes to a social barrier between skill based labour and knowledge based labour: between what is properly blue collared labour and what is white collared labour. 
 
This is typically interpreted as the line where participation should sensibly cease. In what follows it is suggested that this is a social barrier: not a barrier dictated by inherited natural differences.

PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN AT THE ORGANIZATIONAL LEVEL

Merrelyn Emery, 1993, 2018

The concepts, practices and outstanding issues in changing design principle as it applies at the level of the discrete organization was the subject of the majority of discussion during the 1970-1980s. Many of the issues are also relevant at other levels but they usually surface first and are certainly more frequently debated within the context of a discrete group or organization.

THE LIGHT ON THE HILL

Fred Emery, 1989

For the past two years the notion of `work restructuring' has been at the centre of national debates. With the recent decisions of the Industrial Commission it would seem that the die is cast - the nation is set on the course of Restructuring. Having set course, all that now remains is to take off and proceed in that direction. 
 
Unfortunately, little attention has been directed to how we take off and fly.

PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN: WORK AND COMMUNITY LIFE

Fred and Merrelyn Emery, 1974.
Merrelyn Emery, 2017 Revision.

This paper has been revised five times since the original 1973 draft. As we have continued working with more diverse organizations and communities, so our knowledge of these genotypical design principles and how to use them and their power has increased. It is important to remember that while the design principles and the Participative Design Workshop (PDW) are most frequently used with workplaces, they are applicable to all organizations.

THE FAR REACHING EFFECTS OF THE DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Merrelyn Emery, 2008

We are gradually learning just how powerful the design principles are. From the very birth of sociotechnical systems it was noted that moving from non-jointly optimized (DP1) systems to jointly optimized (DP2) ones, caused increases in both productivity and physical and mental health. However, just how systemic sociotechnical systems really were remained to be discovered.
In this paper we review some of the effects from changing the design principle and include an extract from the latest research confirming that design principle is a determinant of mental health.

FURTHER LEARNINGS ABOUT PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN: DIVERSITY AND FLEXIBILITY

Merrelyn Emery, 1988, 1993

Since the advent of the little publication Participative Design, countless participative design workshops (PDWs) have been conducted in many highly diverse settings and ways. At one end of the spectrum is the Development of Human Resources Workshop (DHR) which publicly recruited organizations prepared to send teams into a formal learning environment. Then there are the small single organizations learning to redesign themselves in their own, often very informal circumstances and in their own time.

WOULD THE REAL PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN WORKSHOP (PDW) STAND UP PLEASE?

Merrelyn Emery, 1998

Since its invention in 1971, many variations on the PDW have been successfully explored. Some of these are documented below. However, there are some variations which are not acceptable because they violate basic principles of the theory and method and have negative effects. Some of these are also described.  
 
Also at the moment, there is evidence of some misunderstandings of terms normally used. The major instances are discussed.  

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN STS AND PARTICIPATIVE DESIGN (PD)

Merrelyn Emery

There are two major competing methods for changing an organization from one designed on the first principle, redundancy of parts, to one designed on the second principle, redundancy of functions. Both of these methods as they are practised today are offspring of the original theory and method of sociotechnical systems (STS), analysis and design. (Emery F, 1959, 1978)  
 
While both are offspring, STS looks very like its parent. Participative Design is an adaptive mutation, adapted to today's environment. 

MANAGEMENT BY OBJECTIVES

Fred Emery, 1990

In the note on `management of self managing groups' I stressed the central role of `management by objectives'. To those who have followed the history of theories of management this must have seemed a conclusion arrived at in ignorance or despair.

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGEMENT

Fred Emery, 1990

Much more efficient use must be made of this country's resources above all its human resources, which up to now, as everyone knows, have been scandalously underemployed.

MATCHING EFFECTIVITIES TO AFFORDANCES IN THE DESIGN OF JOBS

Fred Emery, 1985

In an open systems framework or in other words, a framework for ecological learning, system and environment are interdependent, mutually defining the other and imposing limits on each other. Affordances are what the environment offers to the system at any point in time. An environment containing a hungry tiger does not afford the opportunity for a relaxed picnic. It does afford the conditions for a rush of adrenalin, a quiet retreat to the four wheel drive or a bit of target practice. Each of these latter are effectivities, the actions the system can make on the environment. 

THE MANAGEMENT OF SELF-MANAGING GROUPS

Fred Emery, 1989

This title is not meant as an oxymoronic play on words to disparage either the notion of management or of self managing work groups. The title is meant to remind us that even if responsibility for co-ordination and control of workface activities is largely vested in the workface operators there are still the problems of managing the support and renewal of these groups and their relation to corporate objectives. In this context `corporate objectives' should not be thought of as simply goals devised by top management to suit their whims. Corporate objectives reflect the multiple external relations that must be sustained if the corporate body is to survive, let alone grow.

MATTERS OF CONCERN TO UNIONS IN THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF WORK

Fred Emery, 1975

Does it mean any more than that the unions have not been seen to be active in furthering these particular interests of the workers? Unions shared a lot of the kudos for achieving safe and hygienic conditions of work because they were active in these matters.

NOTES ON PRINCIPLES OF MANAGEMENT

Fred Emery, 1975

“..COORDINATION IS, IN REALITY, THE SUM TOTAL OF MANAGING.” (p.28)
“THE MOST ANCIENT, AS WELL AS THE MOST IMPORTANT, DEVICE FOR ACHIEVING COORDINATION IS THE SUPERVISOR.” (p. 38)

COMMENTS ON EILON’S EDITORIAL
THE QUALITY OF WORKING LIFE

Fred Emery, 1976

In his editorial on the quality of working life Professor Eilon reviews the two volumes on this topic edited by Davis and Cherns (1975). He has kindly given us, as contributors to the books, an opportunity to comment on the review.

PHIL HERBST: ALTERNATIVES TO HIERARCHIES

Fred Emery, Merrelyn Emery, 1977

Ultimately this is a book about liberation – the liberation of people from their theories about the world, and in particular the liberation of the world of work from the logic and theory of bureaucracy. This may not be entirely evident from the title, nor from the table of contents.

DEMOCRACY IN THE WORKPLACE:
THE REGULATION OF SEMI-AUTONOMOUS WORK GROUPS

Fred Emery, 1977

There has been a world-wide movement toward management via semi-autonomous, selfmanaging groups as a more stable, productive system than managing via the boss system, the master-servant relation.

HUMAN RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO SERVICE A NATIONAL PROGRAM
FOR IMPROVEMENT IN THE QUALITY OF WORK LIFE

Fred Emery, 1976

Lists of resource persons and centres, such as the one we have provided, are misleading if they are taken to imply that such resources take years of training and experience to bring into existence.


In the years before we developed the ‘Participative design workshop’ (i.e. pre-1972), this was certainly the case.  Thus, in Norway our program was slowed down while we developed a two year post graduate training course in socio-technical systems

JOB DESIGN AND INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY

Fred Emery, 1977

My first reaction was much the same as when I first brought home a new suit.  The cloth seemed not to be the same colour as when chosen in the tailor’s shop, one shoulder seemed a bit sloppy, the button-holes seemed a bit too small etc.  My fault was that I had an image of what I wanted but had not conveyed much of that image to the tailor.  Similarly, I had an image of what happened in Norway and when I read Bolwen’s book, I kept asking myself why we had not been told this and that, why he had not been given this and that reference.

PROJECT TEAMS: SOME BACKGROUND

Fred Emery, 1977

This paper is an account of work undertaken in both overseas and Australian organisations.  The experiments have been concerned with the interaction of social and technological change.  In the cases cited change was undertaken in both the sociological and technological systems resulting in dissolution of bureaucratic organisations and the evolution of self-managing, semi-autonomous, composite organisations.

THE “MATRIX” ORGANISATION OF PROJECT TEAMS  AS A MINI BUREAUCRACY

Fred Emery, 1977

The property of matrix is that each cell can take a value quite independently of any other cell but, in a two dimensional matrix for instance, the values are all expressed in the same two dimensions. 
 
The naïve assumption in mature organisation is that the ‘value’ in each cell will be a simple function of personnel available (assuming that personnel development puts some constraint on availability) and project requirements. 

LETTER TO PROFESSOR GREER

Fred Emery, 1987

When I saw that you had published your matrix of correlations I simply had to analyse it to check on my own 'theories' about how punishment operates in such settings. I have long found that regression analysis (and ANOVA and factor analysis) is inadequate for detection of all but the crudest of relations in social science data.

LETTERS TO HANS VAN BEINUM

Fred Emery, 1990 - 1993

A series of letters between Fred Emery and Hans van Beinum.

SYDNEY MAIL EXCHANGES

Fred Emery, 1993

This letter should indicate my current thoughts.  By express mail I have forwarded three appendices and a copy of the book Merrelyn Emery has put together.  The book includes a description of the method of ‘participative work design’ that may concern you in the later phases.

THE DARK SIDE OF HUMAN ACTIVITY

Fred Emery, 1995

In pursing democratization of the workplace, participative design and search conferencing I have constantly encountered the charge of being naive. The naivety is seen to come from an inability to accept the darker side of human nature. What is the darker side? It is supposedly manifested in many different ways e.g. "hatred of learning", "fear of freedom' and that complex of inferior qualities that McGregor described as "theory X".

REPLIES TO REVIEWS OF VOL TWO OF THE TAVISTOCK ANTHOLOGY BY PASSMORE AND SCARBROUGH (HR, 1995). CONTRARY PERSPECTIVES OF SOCIO-TECHNICAL THEORY.

Fred Emery, 1995

There would seem to be something archaic about British social science if, as Scarbrough asserts, the very mention of 'a socio-technical system' 'still prompts a frisson of recognition from those who have not encountered it before'. (p24). The concept of socio-technical systems has been around for almost as many years as the concept of cybernetics, and I doubt that Scarbrough would claims that the mere mention of cybernetics causes "shudders, quivers, chills or tingles" (Webster's, 1961, definition of frisson. Not given in O.E.D.).

SELF MANAGING MANAGEMENT OF THE SELF MANAGING ORGANIZATION: AN UPDATE

Merrelyn Emery, 2018

In 1989 and 1990 Fred Emery wrote two papers titled respectively The management of self-managing groups and Management by objectives. They documented the learning about how to manage self management from his vast experience over decades.

 

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