Managing OrganizationsFundamentals and latest thinking

Published July 2010 Updated July 2011 20 lectures
Prof. Stewart Clegg
University of Technology Sydney, Australia

Managing is the core activity carried out in organizations: managing people and practices whilst simultaneously doing so in ways that are seen to be socially responsible and representationally consistent. This series of talks will focus on the theory and practice of managing organizations, illustrated using a variety of case studies... read moreand it takes as a starting point a model set out in the first part of the series.

Managing people seems fairly self evident but what about managing practice? Practice is what connects disparate actors, material things and ideas. In practice managers situate themselves so that they are involved in coordinating, controlling and communicating with various others. These others may be thought of as stakeholders, people who have an interest in the organization, such as employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers and governments. In addition, managers are interacting with various things: with immaterial artifacts such as software, systems, models and accounting principles as well as with material artifacts such as buildings, computers and machines. These relations often form routines in organizations that are reflected in historically evolved collective patterns of interconnected actions, activities and modes of knowing.

How they interact is constantly being represented: in words, deeds, texts, artifacts, reports, websites etc. There is a very important representational element to the art of management. These collective patterns are governed by a purpose, certain rules, formal and informal routines, in short, organization, which is embedded in technological and societal contexts.

Increasingly, these social and technological contexts have to be managed in ways that are socially responsible, in terms of ethics, sustainability and practices of globalization; a socially responsible organization does not just outsource its socially irresponsible practices!

Managers have to manage well and manage how they manage even better, have a good story to represent through various media and practices and be able to make a compelling case for their socially responsible ways of doing so. Some of these tasks will be functionally specialized but a good generalist manager should be aware of the simultaneity of actions in any sphere. Managing people and practices should always be aligned with how they are managed in a socially responsible way and how they are represented as being managed. Misalignment of any of these polarities spells danger.