David Boje & Robert Dennehy's
Managing in the Postmodern World
1st Edition 1993; 2nd Edition 1994;
3rd Edition April 2000.
For Free to you on the WWW.
You may copy for free and use in any teaching or training setting at no charge. You have our permission to copy. It was written as an undergraduate Intro to Management Text, but has been used at all levels, including in Management Training at Trader Joe's.

Consult Managing in the Postmodern World home page for more chapters as I get them done. There are also plenty of cases, syllabus copies, and additional  learning materials to go with this book - D. Boje 

(press here). 




The Story of Postmodern Management



"We want to make postmodern management accessible to everyone... and that includes you."


David M. Boje and Robert F. Dennehy

With a Special Foreword by Stewart Clegg

July, 1992

  • Youth Gone Wild

  • Since I was born they couldn't hold me down.

  • Another misfit kid, another burned-out town.

  • Never played by the rules!

  • Never really cared...

  • the writing's on the wall.

  • We are the youth gone wild.

  • Boss screamin' in my ear

  • About who I'm supposed to be.

  • Getcha a 3-piece Wall Street smile

  • and son you'll look just like me.

  • I said: "hey man, the's something

  • that you oughta know.

  • I tell ya Park Avenue leads to skid row."

-Excerpts From Skid Row by Bolan and Snake: Dolby, Atlantic.





I. What is Planning?

Setting the goals of what to do in the future and specifying the means (strategy & programs) to achieve those goals.

PRE. Craft. Planning and doing are both part of the craftsmen's job.

MOD. Pyramid. Planning and doing get split up as the manager doses the brain work and the worker does the hand-work.

POST. Network. Planning head and hand-work is recombined and planning is de-centered to include the needs of customers and suppliers, as well as managers and teams of workers.

II. What is Organizing?

Grouping and assigning people, processes, and resources to accomplish plans people can not do alone while delegating requisite authority and setting the rules by which they interact.

PRE. Crews. Organizing is by skill and senority in a self-reliant and entrepreneurial brotherhood society of apprentices and skilled journeymen.

MOD. Discipline. Organizing is centralized and impersonal surveillance and penal mechanisms of disciplines time and motion.

POST. Flat. Organizing is de-centered with flat, flexible and few layers to distribute autonomous teams focusing on KAIZEN and customers.

III. What is Influencing?

Establishing attitudes and rewards to motivate human behavior over time to enthusiastically achieve planned objectives.

PRE. Solace. Influencing is by democratic enforcement of shop rules in a seniority-based, fraternal culture where attitude holds religious significance.

MOD. Comply. Influencing conforms and docilizes people by fear to be cogs in the performativity machine.

POST. Individual. Influence is de-centered so each person has many voices and selves with unconforming diversity and a celebration of differences.

IV. What s Leading?

Directing and coordinating persons and temas concerning what task activities people do and how they are to do those tasks to achieve which plans and objectives.

PRE. Master. Leading is accomplished by authoritarian, slave-driving, master, tyrants who direct and oversee what and how tasks are achieved in a climate of fear.

MOD. Panoptic. Leading is centralized with many layers and divisions of panoptic gaze and menal mechanisms to apply punishments and rewards in ways that sustain power and status differences.

POST. Servant. Leading is de-centered with an ethic of servanthood as managers serve people who in turn serve customers in a de-differentiated network of relationships led by vision and story. 

V. What is Controlling?

Evaluating and measuring performance of persons, teams, and organizations to ensure desired goals are achieved with efficient use of resources and highest quality levels.

PRE. Slave. Controlling was according to patrimonial system of class privileges and rights over lower classes.

MOD. Inspect. Controlling is by impersonal inspection to assure normative compliance and standardized human behavior. 

POST. Choke. Controlling is de-differentiated and de-centered so that people make more diverse, individual, and co-responsible choices in settings that balance efficiency with environmental and social audits.



The Story of Postmodern Management

Once in a while any enthusiast experiences the thrill of unexpectedly discovering a rare and special example of the genre that they collect. Occasionally, this has happened to me when I've turned up a rare jazz or blues record on Compact Disc in a specialist shop that I either didn't know existed or had never been able to track down. However, I'm not only a music buff but also an academic: I guess that's why I've been asked to write this foreword. The same pleasure that the discovery of a rare Billie Holiday or John Coltrane disc might cause one paralleled the pleasure of the text found in the volume you are holding now. It is not that this book is one with which one wholeheartedly agrees or which goes where no book has ever gone before - although it comes close to doing that. The pleasure is to be found in a book which is so refreshingly lucid about matters which are so frequently opaque.

The opacity is two-fold: there is an opacity of convention as well as an opacity of criticism.

The opacity of convention is a set of silences, absences, refusals, a general unwillingness, nay, even inability, on the part of mainstream organization and management theorists to engage with the vibrant strand of contemporary social theory represented by the discussion of postmodernism and postmodernity. Irrelevant, awkward, difficult, obscure: these are some of the epithets that one hears hurled against the emergent post-functionalist, post-Marxist, post-Cold War grammar of theorizing being developed in journals such as Theory, Culture and Society. In this way another opacity is instituted: the lack of transparency in some of the key texts of postmodernism being sufficient to condemn them to irrelevance.

Yet, the organizations and management fields are not impervious, despite that theoretical engagement between different research and scholarly traditions has only rarely been a feature of an area of work which has been characterized by more than a fair degree of paradigmatic partisanship, postmodernism is trickling into journals like Organization Studies and the Journal of Organizational Change Management at an increasing rate.

The problems are not just external to the postmodernists but are compounded by differences within the postmodern camp: a key question is whether the postmodern is an era or a style of theorizing, an issue which is central to the argument which this book addresses. It does so with flair and conviviality, engaging the reader in a conversation quite unlike exchanges which one has found represented in other relevant literature. The marketing skills of populism are combined with the theoretical agenda of radicalism to produce a book which no one can deny a priori because of its difficulty, impenetrability, etc. It is, simply, a good story, a strong narrative, in which many voices may be engaged, a genuinely pluralist text for postmodern times, one written from within a modernist consciousness which is displayed in the commitment to the story-line. Ultra-postmodernists may not accept this attachment to narrative but it is what gives the book its strength.

The book suggests that these postmodern times may well pass by America, that it will be stymied by the legacies of a post-industrialism in which a form of power/knowledge was institutionalized in corporate embodiments swollen with the bureaucratized complacency that defence-related contracting induced in organizations remote from competitive struggle in a consumer market-place. It is now clear that the post-industrial society was a knowledge-based society shaped by the requirements of the Cold War and the warfare state. It was these which materialized the shift in organizational social relations from an industrial epoch founded on exploitation to one in which value became increasingly fused within the unity of power/knowledge condensed within the global, bureaucratic, corporate frame. America won the Cold War but is clearly in danger of losing the aftermath, not to the old adversaries, but to nations which were not even admitted to the Cold War game as equal players: most noticeably Japan, but also Germany, the powerhouse at the center of the European Community, as well as the Newly-Industrializing Countries of East Asia. Statutorily, of course, the first two were not allowed to play as part of the Cold War settlement at Yalta. Exclusion spawned different strategies premised on structures which were and had always been institutionally distinct.

For as long as the old modernist orthodoxies of management and organization theory held sway the specificity of the differences represented in these overseas cases were hard to see and the institutional frameworks in which they were embedded remained unaccounted. The literature was thorough goingly modernist in its assumptions and could only make that kind of sense of the differences which were becoming apparent, too late and too wrong, in the case of Japan, as a cultural 'threat' at the dawn of the 1980s. Yet, as this book makes clear, 'It is not the Germans, Japanese and Koreans that are causing America's decline. It is mismanagement of {America's} own human and economic resources.'

What is to be done? Boje and Dennehy are quite clear: first, there has to be a realization that the recipes of modernism were epoch or era specific and may be past their use-by date in some areas of organizational life. Second, that for as long as the lenses through which we focus on organizational life are made to modernist specifications, so that they focus on variables such as formalization, standardization, centralization, etc., as the strategic focus for research and teaching, we will be condemned to doing the 'time-warp' over and over again, stuck in the modernist frame while the spectacle outside turns ever more postmodern. Third, that postmodernism offers an integrative focus which will aid us as teachers, students, researchers and practitioners in overcoming the excessive differentiation which has fragmented our intellectual and praxeological communities. Fourth, that in doing so it will serve to re-vitalize the study of management and organizations by opening it up to the cutting-edge of contemporary social science currents.

It is quite an agenda. Yet it is one which this remarkably lucid, open and engaged contribution advances considerably. Let me conclude this foreword with a pregnant thought from one of the now-neglected grandmasters of modernism, one who hardly figured in the modernist consciousness of management and organizations. Even as, by a logic of exclusion codified early in the intellectual career of the field, echoes and traces of Marx's subordinate and ultimately defeated modernist thought delineated the themes that did figure as the victorious current of modernism, this minor European post-Hegelian philosopher and political economist had enough savvy and style to get at least one thing right, and in so doing underwrites the audacity and importance of the project that this book represents, both in its theme and its accessibility:

People make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, and creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries, and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honored disguise and this borrowed language. (Marx: The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte)

If the hypotheses and argument that the authors advance are substantially correct, then we stand at one of those moments in history when the urge to resist and understand the limitations of the old slogans is critical. America's Revolution Against Exploitation: The Story of Postmodern Management achieves this resistance and this understanding sufficiently to reconfigure our grasp of the modern condition in which we have been while pointing us towards what we may become. One should salute the book as a contribution to one of the projects for the future, one which, because of its easy style, deserves to secure postmodernism a good name in management and organization theory circles.

Stewart R. Clegg  July, 1992

Stewart Clegg is the author of a number of books, including Modern Organizations: Organization Studies in the Postmodern World. London, Sage 1990, in which some of the ideas of postmodernism were first advanced in the Management and Organizations field.






American management has led our country to ruin. It is time for a management revolution. We have to rebel against the sacred texts, the principles of traditional management that have not changed since the 1950s.

"America's Revolution Against Exploitation" is long overdue. We are a nation founded on rebellion and slavery. With all our prosperity, the gap between the haves and have nots is now a grand canyon. The prescriptions in this book are extreme. It is time to dismantle American "exploitive" management practices that are the same old victimizing games, but written up with more endearing labels. Empowerment is really exploitation. Cycle time is really time and motion study. Access to information is really surveillance. Managers are as exploited as the workers. Managers work in a system of discipline, obedience, surveillance, and prescriptions that keep them from doing much other than exploitation. Both will rise up and rebel against this system of exploitation that is being taught WITHOUT CRITIQUE in MBA programs and Colleges of Business Administration (CBA's). In fact MBA is not Master of Business Administration, it is Master of Bureaucratic Administration taught in Colleges of Bureaucratic Administration. This book is a rebel's guide for post-bureaucratic, post-exploitation, post-racism, post-colonialism, post-sexism, and post-complacency. "Postmodern Management!" is our revolutionary battle cry for breaking the shackles of these exploitations.

What is Postmodern Management? press here


Postmodern Management is a revolutionary blend of a critique of management traditions with skills to move America to a future without exploitation. We have acquired a new perception and with it new capacities. There are new frontiers of opportunities, risk and challenge. We live in an age of transition from the old "modern" factory-bureaucracy that took us beyond feudal guilds, but is not suited to the diverse workforce and complex world economy of "today," in our "postmodern world". As usual, management guru, Peter Drucker was ahead of his time in 1957 in his book Landmarks of Tomorrow when he used the term "postmodern" and went on to say that the postmodern lacks definition, expression, theories and concepts.1 Between 1957 and 1990, Peter Drucker recognized that we can now specify the "postmodern factory of 1999," but we can not build it yet.2 This is an important point because there are too many postmodern writers using postmodern language without realizing how resistant the modernist regime is to giving up control over the factory bureaucracy. Exploitation by another name is still exploitation. Postmodernist also exploit when their turgid writing keeps postmodern ideas inaccessible to the general public. An elite group of academics use jargon and prose that Socrates and Einstein could not fathom. Our task is to make postmodern management accessible to the common man. In fact, in this book undergraduate juniors and seniors have done postmodern studies of everyday organizations.


Garfield echoes Drucker in his book Second to None where he identifies the era of uncertainty that exists while corporations undergo an extraordinary transformation in attempting to meet challenges.3 These changes may appear random and chaotic but they are part of a larger pattern whose scope we are just beginning to discern. Garfield calls this new pattern the "new story" of business. We, too, will provide the new story -- the postmodern view of organizations.

Vaclav Havel, the President of Czechoslovakia, reflects that the fall of communism is a sign that modern thought-based on the premise that the world is objectively knowable, and that the knowledge so obtained can be absolutely generalized-has come to a final crisis.4 From an era of systems, institutions, mechanisms and statistical averages, he proposes the task of finding a new, post-modern face. It is not that we should simply seek new and better ways of managing society, the economy and the world. The point is that we should fundamentally change how we behave.

Drucker, Garfield, Havel: three revolutionary voices that call for new stories in today's world. In this book we eagerly take on the challenge.

Table 1: "The Revolutions of Management"


Pre-modern Management Revolution: Before the industrial revolution, people for many centuries apprenticed in crafts and became so skilled that they did not need a lot of other people to tell them how to plan, organize, and control. They knew what to do. On the other hand, slaves, serfs, and indentured servants were exploited to make wealth for masters and kings. Drucker (1992) places the revolutionary transition from the pre-modern era in the 1880s, when American began regulating its unrestricted markets, railroad barons, and in general, wanted to get some control over the emerging industrial revolution.

Modern Management Revolution: Two trends combined in the industrial revolution to become "modern management." First, the industrial revolution model of factory production yielded more products and cheaper costs than the feudal crafts and guild system. Second, bureaucracy was seen as a way to resolve the exploitation of feudal lords and barons by implementing rules, procedures, specialized positions, and layers of administrators. The factory and the bureaucracy fused together in the modernist era to give us the modern factory-bureaucracy. With this machine age, people began to be treated like machines, made to perform very routine, boring, repetitive, and very, very specialized work (like oiling the machine). People did not think for themselves and so they needed great pyramids of managers, layer upon layer of managers, to put all the cogs (people) together again.


Post-modern Revolution: This revolution is only beginning. Drucker (1992), for example dates the beginning as 1968-73, when the great "oil shock" and student rebellions across America voiced the pain. Are we are beyond the machine age, beyond the time when people at work had no skill, beyond the time when they are treated like dependent children, and beyond the need for managers at all? In management, will people, once again, be highly skilled? Does working in autonomous teams, in a flat and global network of relations make people more empowered, more self-controlled, and less exploitable? Does serving the customer through a lean and flexible service system move us beyond a mass consumption society? Are managers and bean counters going to serve the postmodern network by keeping it configured in ways that meet worker and customer needs? Or, in this postmodern revolution, have the forces of darkness learned to substitute words like "total quality management," "sociotechnical systems," "empowerment," and "flexible manufacturing systems," for the modernist command and control words or even the pre-modern torture and sovereignty words? Are management textbooks keeping their 1950's principles and prescriptions in tact, while using more politically correct words like: diversity, multi-cultural, workforce 2000, and substituting minority for white-male photographs? Will the postmodern revolution become a maniacal nightmare where the ills that brought on earlier revolutions pale by comparison. Just because an organization will be flat, speedy, global, and customer-driven does not mean that workers, managers, and customers will be unshackled from exploitation, drudgery, and abuse.

Pre-modern is craft-based management, modern is pyramid-based management, and postmodern is network-based management. But, postmodern is not just a system of managing a flat network form of organization, postmodern is also a method for detecting, and challenging forms of exploitation.5


To provide a framework for our book, we provide metaphors of Pre-modern, Modern and Post-modern. The Pre-modern represents the crown of the master but also the crown of the skilled artisan. The Modern represents the bureaucratic organization chart inside the pyramid with the General Manager at the top with the other managers and employees cascading down to the bottom.

There are several candidate-metaphors for postmodern. One is Peter Drucker's (1990, 1992) image of the modernist firm as the "battleship" and the postmodern image of the "flotilla." Flotillas are small groups of ships that can be reconfigured to cope with changing circumstances. Gareth Morgan in personal communication has suggested the postmodern image of a termite mound. The idea that each termite is so interrelated with his brother mites to nurture, build, and protect the mound. Lyotard (1984: 17) uses the metaphor of a conversation in contrast to the bureaucratic institution:

From this point of view, an institution differs from a conversation in that it always requires supplementary constraints for statements to be declared admissible within its bounds. The constraints function to filter discursive potentials, interrupting possible connections in the communication networks: there are things that should not be said. They also privilege certain classes of statements (sometimes only one) whose predominance characterizes the discourse of the particular institution: there are things that should be said, and there are ways of saying them. Thus: orders in the army, prayer in church, denotation in the schools, narration in families, questions in philosophy, performativity in business. Bureaucratization is the outer limit of this tendency.

The conversation is a loosely coupled network where people join in and detach from the dialogue. The rules of the conversation shift as rapidly as the topics and where the conversation will lead is often unpredictable.

TAMARA. Our favorite metaphor for postmodern is a mansion with conversations happening simultaneously in many rooms. In the play Tamara, instead of one story, one stage, and one plot, told in a linear act by act way to a stationary audience, the stories of multiple characters each unfold as that audience chases actors and actresses from room to room in a reconstruction of an Italian Villa. Tamara is a true story taken from the diary of Aelis Mazoyer and is Los Angeles' longest running play. If we assume that there are a dozen stages and a dozen storytellers, then the number of story lines an audience could trace in their networking as the "wandering audience" chasing a multiplicity of "wandering discourses" is 12! or 479,011,600 paths in the Tamara organization. In Tamara, there is no correct, single story, told as one voice as is the case in the modernist organization. Every choice is valid. Every whim or dedication rewarded in its own way. You choose the play you wish to get. Thus the concept of Tamara represents today's diverse, simultaneous, team-based, flexible organization that challenge us to find many new ways to view the world.


Our Voices. One of the freedoms of postmodernism is to own up to your "voice" and stop writing so impersonally that you have no voice. We are Boj and Bob, using our voices, telling our story.

Bob: Dave, besides getting rich and famous, why did we write this book?



Boj: We were at some convention talking with book sellers and started joking around. We have this book idea about telling stories to teach management. You know. Tell the feudal stories of slavery to get at control.

Bob: Textbooks summarize Taylor in two sentences, highlight Gilbreth, condense Fayol, but never tell the whole story -- and a really exciting story too.

Boj: I was taught never to write from my own voice. It took me years to use the "I" word in my writing. And, I think we wrote the book to give a voice to other voices not being heard, like the voice of the worker, feminist voices, anti-racist and anti-exploitation voices. In management, as taught in the USA, all you get is one voice... bureaucracy.



Bob: I'd like to tell the story of the pre-mod slaves, serfs, craftsmen and artisans. But, I'd also like to tell the story of the bureaucracy, the factory, the mill, the office as well as the story of the postmodern organization with images of Tamara, termites, and the flotilla.

Boj: I think management texts are way behind the times. In fact, I was talking to a textbook salesman. He used the words: "instructor proof." You don't need instructors anymore, except to pick out the multiple choice questions from the test bank that is provided, pick the overheads from the overhead book, and pick the exercise from some manual. The student can read the book, do the pre-test, post-test, read the little inserts and there you have it -- fast-food learning.

Bob: What a disappointment. How dull! How boring! Where are the stories? Where's the excitement? We want our book to include the management functions: planning, organizing, influencing, leading, controlling. But we want these topics viewed from the pre-modern, modern, and postmodern perspectives. How can we extract the best from the pre-mod and set the stage for inclusion in the postmodern. We have some exciting possibilities.


Boj: To me the pre, mod, and post are competing conversations. You know, competing discourses that are each in play today, each in struggle with the other. In my life, I am part bureaucrat, part lord of the classroom, and part rebel postmodernist.

Bob: Our task is to rebel against the modern management texts and really provide new life for business education. Stories, history, and competing roles provide the framework for a much more exciting exploration of business today.

Boj: Right, and we have to rebel against the postmodernists too. The stuff is great, but they make it so hard to understand what they are saying. Managers and a lot of students turn off to it after a few sentences.6

Bob: That's right, one of our challenges is to make the postmodern message accessible to our students, but we also have to be circumspect about the postmodernists. The message can easily be diverted into a new form of modernist techniques. We cannot be enamored that postmodernism is nirvana. The message is powerful, but how can we provide some skepticism.


Boj: I just can not teach the old stuff. It is bureaucratic, it does not face the truth. America has a lot of MBA programs and textbook publishers making a lot of money teaching the sacred texts. Even though, Americans know that companies are leaving for other countries, the education system is in shambles, the homeless are everywhere. America is pyramid-bound, pyramid-dependent, and prefers to be blind to the postmodern revolution.

Bob: Students have been conditioned by other textbooks and classroom procedures. Our approach asks them to reconsider their education as we lay out our story and as we ask them to lay out their story. Reevaluate the present state of business in light of contributions from the past. We are asking them to cooperate in this venture to make business come alive.

Boj: Texts are a-historical and even abuse history. Management textbooks do not talk about exploitation, about slavery, about sexism, and racism. There is a mandatory ethics chapter, but basically the books are bland, encyclopedias of scientific-sounding vocabularies. They mask the real message, that the white male pattern of organizing by product, by functions, by aerospace technology that combines functions and project in a matrix of a thousand teams will make it all go away. A matrix organization is just bureaucracy squared. Two bureaucracies instead of one. Some texts change the photos and put in a case about a poly-centered form with a multiplicity of management hierarchies around which the teams get distributed. The same old formula, tweaked here, stretched there, with new rhetoric, but still feudalism and bureaucracy. We have to take a different track.

Bob: Let's take the topic of organizing. We will not use this hackneyed approach in our book. Rather, we will look at the historical development of organizing. Since organizing will be different in the year 2000 than it is being practiced today, we will examine how organizing got to be the way it is, and where can it go from here. In short, instead of looking at organizing as a science of variable relationships, we will look at organizing as a response to the conditions and movements of American society and the global economy. What will it take for America to be competitive in 2001?


Boj: All students are doing is memorizing lists and playing non-sense exercises. Memorizing laundry lists is not teaching students to critique. They are taught to be little docile cogs in the cookie cutter organizational machine. And, we are the cookie cutter monsters.

Bob: The organizational reality of the 21st Century will be too diverse, flexible, dynamic, and turbulent for simple cookie cutter cogs to keep America competitive in the 21st Century.

Boj: I want students to get how stories are a part of the discourse that is pre-mod, part of the discourse that is modernist-bureaucracy, and part of the critical and skeptical discourse that is postmod.

Bob: There is no truth in a story, it is the teller's point of view, based on his or her experience.7 For the postmodernist, the storyteller's voice is as valid as the voice of any textbook author. Certainly the student's voice is equally valid. Our story and writing are not any more truthful or valid than anyone else's story.

Boj: It is easy, as authors, to hide our own voice and story, by masking our "I-ness" behind sterile rhetoric, encyclopedia lists, and the like. I would like to be bold, and come out from behind the dispassionate, privileged third person. We want to de-privilege the author's voice. Let the student skip around, read the book in the middle, skip to the end, read every third page. Treat their own stories of management as valid and truthful as any they read in our book. We will give our interpretations to these stories, but our interpretation is only our viewpoint. As students, they can generate equally valid viewpoints. Some students may even find their own voice.



Bob: We will define lots of terms, but there are always more than one definition. They can define terms in their own way, based on their own stories. By taking this approach, we are sharing power and ownership with our students. To be empowered, to interpret, and to tell their own stories!

Boj: It's tough, we are asking students to critique traditional principles of management that have been taught as scientifically validated facts. Management principles are history-bound. With each new management revolution, the principles get recreated to fit that time period. Then when the economy, culture, and politics changes, a new set of principles is seized upon as scientific and valid. Its not scientific, it is just more politically expedient to teach people truths instead of historically convenient recipes.

Bob: We have proof. We can show you that before pyramid, bureaucratic (modernist) management, there were other principles that textbook authors do not talk about anymore. That weakens the modernist's grip on how planning, organizing, influencing, leading, and controlling should be done. We can show that by the 21st century, the world will be a very different place than it is today. I think it is reasonable to assume that we will seek out some principles that fit the postmodern historical epoch (our future).



Boj: You know what, management principles of Modernist Machine and Service Bureaucracies are the exact opposite of the management principles which our book proposes for Postmodern Management and Organization.










  1. Short term profit goals
  2. Mass production
  3. Worker is a cost.
  4. Vertical planning.
  5. Top down focus.
  6. Planning leads to order.
  1. Long term profit goals.
  2. Flexible production.
  3. Worker is an investment.
  4. Horizontal planning.
  5. Internal and external customer focus.
  6. Planning leads to disorder and confusion.


  1. One man, one job and de-skilled jobs.
  2. Labor-management confrontation.
  3. Division of departments.
  4. Tall is better
  5. Homogeneity is strength.
  6. Top has voice & diversity is tolerated.
  7. Efficiency increases with specialization, formalization, routinization, fragmentation, division of labor.
  1. Work teams, multi-skilled workers.
  2. Labor-management cooperation.
  3. Flexible networks with permeable boundaries.
  4. Flat is better.
  5. Diversity is strength.
  6. Many-voices and diversity is an asset.
  7. Efficiency decreases with specialization, formalization, routinization, fragmentation, and division of labor.


  1. Authority vested in superior.
  2. Extrinsic rewards and punishments.
  3. Surveillance mechanisms everywhere.
  4. Women paid 68% of men; minorities paid less.
  5. Discourse is white male-based.
  6. Individual incentives.
  1. Authority delegated to leaders by teams.
  2. Intrinsic, empowered, ownership over work process.
  3. People are self-disciplined.
  4. Women and minorities equally paid.
  5. Polyvocal/polylogic discourse.
  6. Team incentives.


  1. Theory X or Y
  2. Centralized with many layers and rules.
  3. Boss centered.
  4. White male career tracks.
  5. Tell them what to do.
  1. Theory S (Servant Leadership)
  2. Decentralized with few layers and wide spans.
  3. People centered.
  4. Tracks for women and minorities.
  5. Visionary.


  1. Centralized control.
  2. End-of-line inspection.
  3. Micro surveillance.
  4. Red tape.
  5. Lots of procedures, rules, MBO & computers for surveillance.
  6. Train top of pyramid.
  7. Measure result criteria.
  8. Hoard information.
  9. Fear-based controls.
  1. Decentralized control.
  2. Quality control is everyone's job.
  3. Two-way surveillance.
  4. Cut red tape.
  5. Dump procedures.
  6. Train people.
  7. Measure process criteria.
  8. Information is given to all.
  9. Self-control.

Bob: Opinions vary, but what is clear is that the principles of management of modernist-bureaucracy and postmodern self-management are opposite.


Boj: The U.S. Department of Labor has conducted a study that makes the search for alternative principles of management an American agenda.8 Our book plans to address this agenda.

Table 3


PRODUCTIVITY. Productivity growth (output per hour) in the United States slowed significantly after 1973. Labor productivity actually declined in 1989 and 1990. Some estimate that if current international productivity trends continue, nine countries may exceed the U.S. in output per worker-hour by the year 2020.

EARNINGS AND INCOME. Stagnant productivity has seriously affected workers' earnings. Median family income increased nearly three percent a year between 1947 and 1973. Since 1973, it has scarcely increased at all. Families with heads of households under the age of 34 have watched their real income decline since 1979.

JOBS. Job opportunities in the United States are changing. Twenty years ago, manufacturing accounted for 27 percent of all nonagricultural employment in the U.S.; services and retail trade for 32 percent. by 1990, manufacturing accounted for only 17 percent of these jobs, while services and retail trade made up 44 percent. In 1990, manufacturing jobs paid an average of $10.84 per hour; while service jobs paid $9.86 and jobs in retail trade paid only $6.78.

Bob: In the next few pages, we can summarize the book by telling the grand stories of the three epochs of management: Pre-modern, Modern, and Post-modern.

Boj: You think that students will get the fact that while we lay them out as historical time periods, all three are very much a part of your life in everyday organizations?

Bob: Yes. We have evidence from past experience with students that they can struggle with different discourses. They can observe the artisan of the pre-mod period, with the assembly line worker of the mod period, and network of workers in the postmod period. Not only do they observe these situations, but they recognize how their own lives reflect these situations. Thus, they become more invested in entering into the struggle. Does that make sense?

Boj: Makes sense to me, Bob.


  • NOTE: page numbers refer to 1st edition

  • Acknowledgements 1
  • Rebel's Postmod Glossary 2
  • Stewart Clegg's Foreword 8
  • The Pre-modern story 15
  • The Modern story 17
  • Modern Service and
  • Product Bureaucracies 19
  • Comparison of Pre-mod craft organizaton with
  • two Modern forms 20
  • The Postmodern story 23
  • What is Postmodern 24
  • Skeptical & Affirmative
  • Postmodern 26
  • I. Affirmative/Era Postmodernism 27
  • II. Skeptical/Era Postmodernism 30
  • III. Affirmative/ Deconstruction 34
  • IV. Skeptical/ Deconstruction 35
  • Excellence School 36
  • Postmodern Finance 38
  • Postmodernism in Accounting 39
  • Postmodernism in MIS 40
  • The Postmodern Business Education 41
  • Postmodern in Art & Architecture 42
  • Summary & Study Guide 43


  • Planning definitions 59
  • Blue Team on Planning 61
  • Harley-Davidson Story 66
  • Pre-modern Planning 72
  • Gutenberg Bible Story 73
  • Pre-modern roots of Quality, Individualism and Pride 75
  • Tailboard Planning Sessions 76
  • Modernist Planning 78
  • Part I: Factory Planning 79
  • Modernization Narrative 80
  • Hand - Hot & Cold Type 80
  • Schmidt Pig Iron Story 84
  • Taylor's Planning Principles 88
  • Story of Shoveler Planning 92
  • Critique of Taylorism 93
  • Part II: The Modernist Service Bureaucracy 95
  • Fayol's 14 Principles 96
  • Henry Gantt & Pert 97
  • Max Weber 100
  • Postmodern Planning 102

  • Getting Started 103
  • Network Planning 104
  • Role of Storytelling... 109
  • W. Edward Deming Story 110
  • Deming's 7 Deadly Sins 111
  • Deming's 14 Points 112
  • Skeptical of Deming 114
  • Result-Process Management 114
  • Japan's Application of Deming
  • PDCA Wheel 116
  • Deconstructing Postmod Planning 118
  • What are Radical Postmodern Planning
  • Prescriptions 122
  • Summary 123
  • Study Guide 126


  • Organizing Definitions 118
  • Blue Team Karl's Jr. Analysis 119
  • Pre-Mod Organizing 125
  • Clumsum Stories 126
  • Mod Organizing 133
  • Mod Education Machine 133
  • Mod/Postmod workplace 135
  • New Worker Competenceis 136
  • Education in Crisis 136
  • Mod Discipline Machine 137
  • Panoptic Discipline 138
  • Gaze Mechanisms 139
  • 4 Summary Principles 143
  • 6 Results of Panoptic 144
  • Discipline's Grip 145
  • Edison/Navy Story 147
  • Edison Family Discourse 149
  • Comparison of postmod & Mod.. 152
  • Postmod Organizing 155
  • Terminator II 155
  • Search for the Org. of Tomorrow 155
  • Drawing Circle Network 157
  • CompuAdd, A Postmod Org. 158
  • Innovation or Kaizen 160
  • Suggestion Systems 161
  • Nippon Steel Story 162
  • Japanese Suggestions 163
  • Autonomy & Self Discipline 164
  • The Storytelling Organization 165
  • Skeptical Assessment of Postmodern
  • Organizaing 166
  • Conclusions 167
  • Study Guide 169


  • Influence Definitions 174
  • Pre-mod Influence 181
  • Compostiors Wore Swords 182
  • Chapel Stories 182
  • Ben Franklin Story 184
  • Ben Franklin Attitudes 185
  • PMA's 186
  • Act Enthusiastically 188
  • The HHT Story 188
  • Deconstructing HHT 190
  • Need for Achievement 192
  • Modern Influence 195
  • Quality to Leisure 195
  • Wayne & Hoffman story 196
  • Scene 2: Poker 199
  • Scene 3: Masonic 201
  • Scene 4: Mormon 202
  • Hawthorne Studies 204
  • HRM Critique 205
  • Postmodern Influence 210
  • I-N-D-I-V-I-D-U-A-L 210
  • Cognitive Behavior Mod 213
  • Skeptical of Postmod Influence 214
  • Summary 216
  • Study Guide 217

  • Leadership Definitions 221

  • Manager vs. Leader 226
  • Rebelling Against Traditional Management/
  • Leadership Theory 227
  • Leaders and History 228
  • The Story of Miliken 230
  • Pre-mod Leadership 234
  • Chinese Emeror`s New... 234
  • Attila Story 235
  • Modernist Leaders 239
  • John Patterson Story 239
  • Walt Disney Style 240
  • Security Guard Story 241
  • Charles Shows Story 242
  • Transition ot Mod 243
  • Ron Miller Inhers Mod Story
  • Machine 244
  • Deconstructing the Disney
  • Legend 245
  • Voices 245
  • Totalism 246
  • Universalisms 247
  • Essentialism 250
  • Walt's Gaze 252
  • Storyboardin/Script Gaze 254
  • 4 Storyman Styles 254
  • Mr. Fear Story 256
  • Q.T.'s Deinial 257
  • Leader Archetypes 258
  • Modernist Leadership... 258
  • Summary 261
  • Postmod Leadership 263
  • Precision Lenscrafters.. 265
  • New York Stock Exchange. 266
  • Almost Always Instnat
  • Pants Story 268
  • I have a dream speech 270
  • Don Petersen Story 272
  • Petersen & Deming 272
  • Skeptical Analysis of Postmodern
  • Leadership 274
  • Summary 277
  • Study Guide 278



  • Control Definitions 283
  • Blue Team Carl's Jr. Analysis 285
  • Pre-mod Control 291
  • ABC's of Mod Control 291
  • Damien Torture Story 291
  • Torturing 1st Americans 293
  • The Black Legend 294
  • U.S. Slavery 297
  • Slaves & Tom Jefferson 297
  • Abolitionists 298
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin 298
  • Manitu Story 299
  • Guilds 300
  • White Indenture 301
  • Feudal Japan 301
  • Individualism 302
  • Summary 302
  • Mod Control 304
  • Capitalism & Children 304
  • Packing Town Story 304
  • Woodrow Wilson 306
  • Monopoly Control 306
  • J.P. and Bryan Story 307
  • Henry Ford & Fordism 308
  • Story of Ford`s Sociol... 308
  • Control & the Depression 310
  • He Works and She Works 312


CHAP 6 Cont'd

  • Sexist Story 313
  • Sexist Reversal 313
  • Feminist Critique of
  • Modernism 313
  • Sex Harassment 314
  • Male Feminization 315
  • Attitudes toward Dirversity 316
  • Summary Critique of Mod Control 317
  • Transitioning from Mod to Postmod
  • Control 318
  • How to Rebel against Bureaucratic
  • Control and Survive 319
  • Postmod Control 324
  • Postmod vs.
  • Postmod Environmentalism 324
  • Control & 3rd Wave 325
  • Getting Skeptical About Postindustrial
  • versions of Postmod 327
  • Smokestack... 328
  • Getting Skeptical of Post-Fordism 330
  • Small Business 331
  • Getting Skeptical about Japanese
  • Management 332
  • Summary 333
  • Study Guide 334


  • APPENDIX A: Deconstruction Method for
  • Storytelling 344
  • APPENDIX B: Modern/Postmodern development 352



  1. Drucker, Peter F. Landmarks of Tomorrow. N.Y: Harper, 1957.
  2. .Drucker, Peter F. "The Emerging Theory of Manufacturing." Harvard Business Review, May/June 1990: 94-102. See his 1992 book: Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond. New York: Truman Talley Books/Dutton. Drucker uses the term "post-business society" and lays out an era or paradigm-shift approach to postmodernism (pp. 1-11).
  3. Garfield Charles. Second to None. Homewood, Il.: Business one Irwin, 1992.
  4. Havel, Vaclav. "The End of the Modern Era". N.Y. Times, March 1, 1992.
  5. Parker, Martin 1992 "Post-Modern Organizations or Postmodern Organization Theory" Organization Studies. 13/1: 1-17. Parker makes the distinction between postmodern forms of organization and postmodern methods and critique which he terms "epistemology."
  6. See, for example, Rosenau, Pauline Marie's book Post-modernism and the social sciences: Insights, inroads, and intrusions. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.1992: 4. She reviews a lot of the disciplines that are writing textbooks and holding conferences and teaching, but charges economics and psychology as slow learners.
  7. Other important books on postmodernism that have influenced my writing are:
  8. Clegg, Stewart. Modern organizations: organization studies in the postmodern world. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1991;
  9. Harvey, David The condition of postmodernity: An enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford: Blackford, 1989.;
  10. Jameson, Fredric 1991. Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press ;
  11. Boj: One of the writers on postmodernism who influenced me most was Foucault, Michel, especially his book Surveiller et punir: naissance de la prison 1977. I read the English translation by Alan Sheridan, Discipline and punish 1977, New York: Pantheon books.
  12. Ibid Rosenau, p. xiv.
  13. SCANS Report, 1991. "What work requires of schools: A SCAN's report for America 2000." The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. U.S. Department of Labor (June). ISBN 0-16-035853-1. p. 2.



return to index


Post This Site