Co-ordination and Spontaneity in Non-Hierarchical Business Organizations
New Thinking in Political Economy series
Chapter 6: Conclusion
Thus organizational innovations like worker participation, teamwork and just-intime inventory systems can be seen as attempts by ﬁrms to expand their capabilities by placing decision-making authority and responsibility in the hands of those most able to meet the ﬁrm’s objectives. Combined with guaranteed employment, these innovations foster commitment to the ﬁrm and reduce the need for high degrees of hierarchy and monitoring. And the role of managers changes from one of director of production to one of coordinator and facilitator. Managers now incorporate ideas from all quarters, from marketing, engineering and production, into initial planning decisions and then facilitate needed changes once production is underway. The base for ideas is expanded and everyone becomes responsible for more than just narrowly deﬁned tasks. These kind of organizational changes have enabled ﬁrms to enhance their product quality and tailor their output according to speciﬁc market segments. Simply put, by recognizing that ideas come from places other than R&D departments and that not only top level managers are capable of idea implementation, ﬁrms can now do things they could not do before. This lesson has been, and still is, a diﬃcult one for ﬁrms to learn because the entire organizational culture has to change. But by focusing on the capabilities of ﬁrms, economists may now learn the same lesson. (Minkler 1993b, pp. 584–5) There has been an increasing amount of recognition of the importance of decentralization of decision-making in modern ﬁrms over the last decade or two. Though...
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