Advancement in information technology (IT) is affecting every aspect of human life as a result of the structural revolution. It is also affecting organisations compositions and their functions specifically concerning bureaucratic organisations. It can be said that Information technology is improving managerial efficiency in bureaucratic organisations both in short and long term scenarios. With the use of information technology, one can store, access and retrieve large amounts of information, accurately and rapidly. With the use of information technology in bureaucracy organisation, there is time-saving and effectiveness in decision making. Effectiveness in decision making is achieved as a result of improved communication channels. Thus, information technology is affecting the centralisation or decentralisation of decision making and control systems(Bezweek and Egbu, 2010). Technology has deeply affected the working structure of organisation also. It is also challenging the traditional hierarchy and decision-making. It is possible in future that these technological advances will lead to the end of bureaucratic forms of organisation. As it is very difficult to manage these organisations in the long run as in this structure, there is no strict control over the activities of highly skilled workers. This difficulty is resolved with the use of portfolio employees that no more depend on organisational career structures. Organisations will then work in the form of post-bureaucratic organisations having flexible specialisation after the adoption of technology. Technology is making the organisations to work with fewer hierarchy levels. This feature is quite different from bureaucratic organisations. Due to fewer levels of management or hierarchy, the workload at each level of the hierarchy has now increased. This paper will discuss the role of technology on the structure of bureaucratic forms of organisation as well as associated advantages and disadvantages due to these technological changes.
Bureaucracy in literature:
Bureaucracy has a variety of ambiguous and overlying definitions, and it has also been around for a long time. It is defined as an organisational prototype. According to Max Weber unambiguity, precision, hierarchy, continuity, rule-based operations, knowledge of the files, technical competence, speed and ambiguity are some of the characteristics of ideal bureaucratic organisations (Kim et al., 2014). Bureaucracy can also be defined as having an ideal type of organisational setting in the form of the bureau (Lunenburg, 2012).It is a formalised structure that has rule-bound hierarchical authority and standardisation as main features. There is also specialisation in bureaucratic organisations as a result of distinct functional division of labour. People in this organisation have full-time administrative staff that enjoys their life-long employment, planned careers, salaries and allowances, promotions based on their formal education. They also enjoy the legal protection and optional firing (Olsen, 2008). Bureaucrats have to follow the rules and orders as they are instructed by their trustees to do so. Therefore, this form of organisation is managed by specialised officers who possess technical competence along with having expert training. Performance of organisations increases due to these characteristics as a result of technical superiority. In a bureaucracy organisation, costs control can be performed by whom who has the required knowledge and skills of different functions(Zammuto et al., 2007). The fully bureaucratic organisation has monocratic office hierarchy (Treem and Leonardi, 2013). It is referred as a type of centralisation that defines the extent to which decision-making authority is determined in an organisation. But it also has a negative result in the form of red tape (Moon and Bretschneiber, 2002).
Disadvantages of Bureaucracy:
Bureaucracy can be taken as a form of organisation that is much like a machine and ideally its every part is structured in such a way that perform its duty, and the whole setup functions like a clockwork in a formalised way. This setup makes this system to function efficiently. But this also makes the people function like a machine. Due to this approach, the problem of lack of motivation and absence of innovation and change is reported. Customers also are not at an advantage due to this system. When people in the organisation are living in the rule-based environment. Then, they are not motivated and do not care much regarding the customer satisfaction(Knights and Willmott, 2017). These rules are formed for the benefit of companies and not for the benefit of customers.
Information Communication Technology
In the current competitive environment, traditional administrative techniques are losing their values, and new techniques have taken their place. Among the modern administrative techniques, some most widely used techniques are management by objective (MBO), self-efficacy theory (SET), and total quality management (TQM) along with the information communication technology (ICT) (Schaper and Pervan, 2007). Information Communication Technology (ICT) refers to the conjunction of audio-visual and telephone nets and computer systems via a single cabling relation arrangement (Schaper and Pervan, 2007). It is not only frequently employed a prolonged substitute for (IT), but it is an additional precise period that leads to enhanced communication. This Information Communication Technology has an effective role in operations particularly in mechanisation and output. Communication and feedback are now easy to be handled as a result of the implementation of this technology. This trend is observed both in private and public organisations. Due to this world has also become a global village and people can now manage big volumes of commercial dealings with any company all over the world.
Effect of technology over organisational structure
The association between technology and organisational structure and task has been of attention to organisation experts for over 50 years. Many scholars considered the technology as a determinant of organisational structure(Zammuto et al., 2007). Traditional bureaucratic organisations are changing with the advancement and enforcement of technology in carrying out organisations functions. If there are advantages of the use of technology, then there are also disadvantages of this to be used in organisations. Firstly, it is a challenge for the managers to adopt the technology effectively in their organisations(Kim et al., 2014). Some managers in bureaucratic organisations believe that use of technology will make the processes slow. But it is also a fact that in today competitive global economic scenario, it is not possible for organisations to survive without the use of technology. Organizations who fail in the adoption of technology are at the risk of lagging both in productivity as well as market share (Lai and Wang, 2008). There are different views concerning the bureaucratic organisations and adoption of technology. According to Taylan, technology has a conflict with bureaucracy, and it considers bureaucratic organisations as inefficient and uncompetitive(Kim et al., 2014). Lee has a different opinion, and in his opinion, there is same value sharing between information technology and bureaucracy (Kim et al., 2014). Lee considers the computerisation of bureaucratic processes as an ultimate form of organisational rationalisation(Kim et al., 2014). Computerization removes all hatred, love and other emotions from the bureaucratic organisation.
Advantages of technology usage:
Origin of new machines has now opened new working opportunities at the workplace. Workforce and organisational structure are changing, and now there is a huge increment in the productivity of organisations. There are new and easy ways of products introduced in organisations as a result of the use of technology. Now workers are more knowledgeable and expert while dealing with production(Knights and Willmott, 2017). There are efficient ways in use now that decrease the wastages both regarding time and resources. With the use of technology, there are now more sophisticated systems to manage different departments like marketing, production as well as human development. Concerning different departments as well as other related fields, decision making is also improved. But to manage all these with the help of technology, it is required to have user acceptance and competency first in any organisation(Knights and Willmott, 2017). For this purpose, the first step is to change the organisational structure to prepare all the stakeholders for the adoption of technology.
Post-bureaucratic organisations can have the working concept of virtual organisations or knowledge economy. These organisations reverse the conventional images of being tough, paper-driven, stubborn and incompetent bureaucracy. This form of organisation has faced long lasting and constant criticism due to its strict structure. The disadvantages that a bureaucratic organisation bears include too big organisation that is also powerful and also possesses hierarchical structure. People here are inefficient and lazy. There is no flexibility in the structure, and people at managerial positions are inhumane (Olsen, 2008). Also, there is no economic efficiency due to this type of organisation. Due to this large list of charges over the structure and function of the bureaucratic organisation, this form of organisation is losing its value with many other factors also playing the key role. Now bureaucracy is going to be replaced with such enterprise, which is also market driven and non-legal along with having the soft image of governance.
Effect of technology on hierarchy:
Bureaucratic organisations that adopt the technology and use technology in their systems are likely to have a decrease of hierarchy. These are aimed to have a focus on the flexibility and constant information flow rather than an addiction to the rules and regulations. It is a feature of bureaucratic organisations that they transfer information from lower and authorises it on to the higher levels(Knights and Willmott, 2017). This form of organisation is also known as e-governance. There is the use of the new style of leadership in this organisation, and this also boosts citizen contribution in the decision-making process(Knights and Willmott, 2017). This tends to make the system more efficient and transparent. Furthermore, use of technology enables organisations to make use of external resources for the production of products. This develops the more flexible borders between the organisation and its environment(Knights and Willmott, 2017). People are also allowed to work temporarily rather than working permanently only. Working in these types of organisations people do not enjoy life-long employment. There is also a practice to transfer values to customers in order to manage the costs and to increase the efficiency.
Technology at international level:
Moreover, international organisations are thought to be at the front step in de-bureaucratisation since the end of the 1970s (Olsen, 2008). Democratic states are also not supporting this form of the organisation anymore. This transformation has also interpreted as an inevitable shift due to technological advances. To adopt a certain technology, there is always a need to have some changes within the organisation at all levels. For this change, the main role is played by middle managers (Schein, 1983). Technology is mostly used for the automation of current operations. This also includes the increase of speed of communication in an organisation. IT in the first step of technology transfers is supposed to take over the routine procedures(Zammuto et al., 2007). In this procedure, there is the replacement of paper and people with electrons and this lead to change the way of working(Zammuto et al., 2007). IT does not necessarily affect the existence of the bureaucratic organisation. But it also assists in handling uncertainty and information complexity. There are the advantages of information technology and strict structures of bureaucracy that can be aided with the use of technology. Bureau can be taken as a chest of drawers, and each drawer represents a specific function. Each function collected and stored information relevant to the activities within its drawer(Zammuto et al., 2007). The role of information technology is to manage these drawers effectively by making the process smooth and helpful. The effective role of technology turns the bureaucracy organisations into post bureaucracy organisations. Post-bureaucracy organisations have advantages over bureaucracy organisations. These include the open and visible peer review processes as compared to hierarchical appraisals(Zammuto et al., 2007). In the bureaucracy there is fixed decision making process and expectation of reliability while in post bureaucracy organisations; there are a flexible decision-making process and expectation of change.
Post-bureaucracy organisations also allow having the opportunity of working and collaborating virtually to share and integrating the knowledge. These then work in the form of virtual teams that enjoy the new patterns of collaboration. However, the nature of the task along with the type of technologies decides, what should be the organisational arrangements for the completion of tasks(Zammuto et al., 2007). Sometimes the use of too much technology makes the things more complicated and make the routine tasks too complex. For this purpose, formal face to face meetings is also there. These do not require the use of technology. The too much use of technology also makes numerous structures of bureaucratic organisation inappropriate and even detrimental(Bezweek and Egbu, 2010). Due to advancement in technology, in both private and public sectors, it is now possible to have a diversity of different organisational arrangements. One can be in the form of matrix organisation that does not use the straight-line hierarchical authority that goes from the top down(Bezweek and Egbu, 2010). But it makes use of vertical and horizontal dimensions of authority in an organisation(Bezweek and Egbu, 2010). The vertical dimension consists of functional departments while the horizontal dimension consists of working teams(Bezweek and Egbu, 2010). Due to the use of information technology, lines of command and authority have got changed. Communication and the flow of information are increased as a result of a decrease of layers of control. Organizations are now more complex, discerned, and decentralised (Bezweek and Egbu, 2010).
Thus, there are many more features of bureaucracy that affect IT in numerous ways. One of the main features is the presence of hierarchy in organisations. These traditional hierarchies are a source of barriers concerning sharing and disseminating information(Kim et al., 2014). Organizations convert towards the adoption of technology, but vertical departmentalism is the main obstacle in their way of progress(Kim et al., 2014). Also, centralised structures do not allow adopting the information technology. Thus, if there are organisations with flatter and decentralised structures. Then it is easy to improve organisational communication as well as coordination with the use of technology. Technology enforcement is difficult due to red tape present in bureaucratic organisations. This red tape is the cause of decrease of the innovative effectiveness of organisations with the progress of such a climate that reduces the motivation regarding the adoption of innovation or technology (Casey, 2004). Acceptance of IT can be gained if there is more technical competency present in the organisation. This is hypothesised that if the organisation knows better what to do, then it can do it in a better way. Thus, if bureaucracy has more knowledge of a task, then it is possible to have a quick implementation of information technology. But technicians also must have the modification in working habits of workers and production capabilities for the adoption of new technology(Newell et al., 2009).
Information technology is not only altering the method by which business functions. But it is also altering environments in which business functions. The changes are also seen in roles and environments as a result of the implementation of technology in business. This information technology has reformed personal as well as a professional culture on effectively every level (Moon and Bretschneiber, 2002). This change is named as working smarter since the 1990s. With the use of the internet, it is now possible to have access to the public and other personnel as well (Harris and Rea, 2009.) These people were not in reach of organisation previously. Email, World Wide Web and other technologies now are providing almost instant reach to the information and communication with these external stakeholders(Newell et al., 2009). One example of this can be taken in the marketing efforts. If a company wants to introduce the new product in the market, it has an opportunity to conduct a pilot survey over the internet also due to the trend of use of social media Kamel Boulos and Wheeler, 2007; Treem and Leonardi, 2013). This was not possible previously in bureaucratic organisations that were not making use of any information system.
Implementation of information system:
An information system (IS) is the use of computing and communication technology that makes the business functions cost-effective (Fennell et al. 2010).Eventually, an IS occurs to benefit an organisation achieve its ideas. An IS receipts raw evidence, recognised as data, and assimilates, operates, collects and disintegrates that data into somewhat that has a sense of a boss or worker(Fennell, et al. 2010). An IS should deliver leadership to the administration’s staffs to better contribute them to the achievement of those aims. IS influence all heights of the organisation that includes all three levels known as operational, tactical as well as strategic level. They influence all functional parts such as finance, tasks, marketing, strategic planning, employees, and at the most towards the information technology function itself (Daud and Kamsin, 2004). The adoption of information technology in any organisation is inevitable as there is now the diffusion of electronic business as well as electronic commerce technologies in the private sector (Fennell et al. 2010). This has made organisations to have deep attention in information and communication expertise. The use of the technology has progressed from the mechanisation of controlled procedures to systems that are accurately radical in that they acquaint with alteration into central business events, workflow and the organisation of an association Daud and Kamsin, 2004). In post-bureaucratic organisations, information production is heavily reliant on the shared hint of production procedure (Ke and Wei, 2008). This process is run by mutual assignments and communal values as much as an acknowledgement of a solid promise between organisational performers and shareholders external(Knights and Willmott, 2017).
Comparison of two systems:
Post-bureaucratic administrations need tools that will sustenance organisational knowledge in multiple circumstances Gal, et al. 2008). These organisations also recover faith in the group procedures via measures in which evidence is shaped by the association and choices are completed. Bureaucracy, an age long managerial system that is no more able to work in current business environment. The comparison of the two systems revealed that bureaucracy is consistent with rubrics, guidelines and techniques that constrain novelty, inventiveness, individual and group self-confidence. It is also opposed natural flexibility to modification(Knights and Willmott, 2017). The suggestion is that organisations that follow bureaucratic philosophies are slow in the process and are barely consequence concerned with in both output and service distribution. Conversely, the modern administrative values are flexible thus reassuring individual and group creativities, inventiveness, novelty, originality, self-discovery and confidence(Knights and Willmott, 2017).
Motivation due to technology:
Lack of motivation was the result of the bureaucracy in an organisation. This can also be tackled with the use of information technology. It is the source of having the job satisfaction in employees that work in new modern organisations. These have flexible rules and opportunities available to the people (Orlikowski, 2008). Now workers have the opportunity to work from home to work in their most suitable hours as a result of the use of information technology (Choi et al. 2010).Different software systems allow the users to have access to the material and evidence in their traditional offices. With these software’s they get the change of having the association with their other team members. They all work in virtual teams and takes into account all the responsibilities required to ensure the safety of data of an organisation (Romero and Molina, 2011). The traditional meetings are also conducted with the use of different technological tools. There are video conferencing and other alliances available that make them connect. This has also provided company with the advantage of taking the services of employees that are not located in that specific region in which the company operates.
Human resource issues:
Also, there are many issues in human resource that need to be catered while dealing with the strict rules and regulations of bureaucratic organisations. Certain people do not adjust with the strict timings of the official work and need a flexible working hour. This was not possible in the bureaucratic organisations, but this is now possible in the modern organisations that depend on different information subsystems for the management of the employees(Knights and Willmott, 2017). Also, previously it was not possible to manage a large number of diversity of people in an organisation. But the post-bureaucratic organisations have the flexibility to adjust this aspect also(Knights and Willmott, 2017). This diversity and operations are managed by different information systems that allow people to work as virtual teams. They make use of lots of software and technology for this purpose, to have the smooth workflow among them in different activities(Knights and Willmott, 2017).
A key element of research design is also the aim of the study. This can be descriptive, exploratory, and analytical as well as case study analysis. Descriptive study is related to the description of features of the variables of interest. The objective of the descriptive study is to provide the information regarding the prevalent facts related to the topic. The main advantage of this research is that it allows exploring further ideas. For instance, an exploratory study can be used to gather the information regarding the competitors. An exploratory study is conducted when there is not much known about the topic and no past study also effectively address the topic. This takes into account wide range of extensive preliminary work. For example, exploratory research can be conducted on the topic “quality of life.” The purpose of the analytical study is to test the hypothesis. This is mostly used to explain the nature of certain relationships. It describes the interdependence of two or more factors in a given situation. For example, the analytical study can be used for the description of the association between advertising and increased sales. Moreover, case study analysis is used for the in-depth analysis of a given topic. Case studies are not recommended to be used as a problem-solving technique as it is not possible to always have the same problem in any other organisation also. The reason for a case study is to study powerfully one position of something as a dissimilar intact. However, if case studies under investigation are of qualitative, then these are valuable in smearing clarifications to current problems founded on past problem-solving involvements. However, case studies do not unavoidably employ qualitative data only. These are also valuable to make further theories for experiential analysis. And these should not be used only as there is another evaluation design appearing to work. These serve as a useful evaluation tool when the project absorbs implementing an accessible program in a new situation.
Furthermore, types of investigation can be correlational as well as causal. In a causal investigation, it is essential to find a definite cause and effect relationship. It is usually adopted when the aim is to explain more than one factor that are causing problems. For instance, the role of smoking in causing cancer can be analysed with the use of causal investigation. Correlation study is carried out when there is only need for identification of different factors, and no detailed study is required. Researcher interference can be minimal, or it can be manipulative. This depends on whether the study assumed is causal or correlational. In a correlational study, the researcher purposely alternates certain variables and impedes with the proceedings as they usually happen in the organisation.
In the context of study settings, natural settings are used for having the correlational studies. For cause and effect studies, lab settings are used. Unit of analysis in a research design refers to a population of studies. This includes individuals, groups, organisation as well as industry and country. For example, if there is research conducted to know the individual performance of employee after certain training then here a unit of analysis will be individuals. If this performance is to be checked at production as well as sales department level. Then here the unit of analysis will be grouped. This can also be at the industry level when there is an investigation carried out for the analysis of the percentage of the workforce working in care, and then the unit of analysis is an industry (Khankeh et al., 2015). Time horizon can be cross-sectional, or it can be longitudinal studies. Longitudinal studies refer to those, which are conducted at more than one point in time. For example, the performance of employee before and after training can be assessed using the longitudinal studies.
The research design should include information related to the topic of the research, significance of research, beneficiaries of research in addition to a place of research. With a good research design, it is possible to reduce bias and increases the ability of the data composed and investigated (Noble and Smith, 2015). The design which provides the minimum experimental error is described to be the best design in the scientific search. This paper will discuss the key elements of research design as well as associated challenges for qualitative research.
The key elements of research design includes perfect declaration of research problem procedures and techniques to be used for collecting information, method to be applied for treating and examining the data, aim behind the study (descriptive or casual), types of investigation (observational or survey), researcher interference (minimal or manipulative), study setting (research environment), time limit (cross-sectional or longitudinal) as well as unit of analysis. A good research design must starts with the perfect declaration of the research problem. It should provide the reader with the history and importance of the problem as well as its current scenario.
Research can be carried out quantitatively as well as qualitatively. These approaches fluctuate in the amount of the researcher’s interest regarding the empirical appointment, direct association with the subjects, and physical participation in the situation. If a researcher is using them as qualitative research design, then it may face certain challenges associated with this approach. But this cannot be concluded that qualitative research design should not be used as there are many situations where the requirement is to use the qualitative research design, or it best serves the purpose. Qualitative research refers to the systematic subjective method that can be used for the description events in qualitative terms. Its main goals are to have an understanding of the topic and explore the topic in depth (Taylor et al., 2015). Case studies are frequently understood as major examples of qualitative research that involve the explanatory method to study data.
After the establishment of research questions, the next crucial decision is on the assortment of a suitable method along with the selection of research design. Then succeeding planning would be on the correct technique of data collection, number of part-takers, research setting based on methodology and the research question. Sometimes it gets difficult for researchers and students to comprehend that taking up a qualitative method is only the first phase in the method of selecting a suitable research methodology.
The qualitative research design is based on social constructivism perspective. For example, these can be used for improving the understanding of health-related phenomena (Fleurence et al., 2014). Here it involves the methodical collection, organising, and clarification of material in a documented form consequential from converse or observations. Researchers start the expedition for the new hypothesis in health which should concede that suitability of qualitative research obtains from the nature of the social incident to be discovered. There is a context-specific perspective that provides the knowledge in qualitative research. Data analysis, ethical concerns, and inflexible methods of findings are some of the concerns of Qualitative research design while working on health-related phenomena. This design has a lacking that it does not equip researchers with a situate of procedures to be pursued rather it depends on control of words and images. It does not offer results in the form of numbers and equations, but it displays results regarding meaning and understanding.
In this design, the research problems turn into research questions founded on previous research practice. In this study, the chosen sample sizes can be as small. The data collection methods can be to conduct the interview or have the director non-participant observation. There is also the use of field notes as well as journals and logs. The main challenges that a researcher faces while doing the qualitative research are the identification of problem along with the formation of the research question. There is also the requirement of selection of an appropriate methodology while conducting qualitative research (Ritchie et al., 2013). These are challenges that are faced by any researcher during the initial phases of any research project. These problems are principally common for beginners. Identification of research problem is a major issue in qualitative research. It is the topic that researcher wants to take into account while conducting research. It is the main reason for which researcher is engaged in the investigation.
Identification of the problem is essential as it is like a lens that will be used to look at the reality of the phenomenon under study. But interestingly here the topic is mostly such that in with which researcher is already familiar. The difficulty at this stages comes from the fact that researcher has to start his investigation at this point, with the use of his personal experience. Significant time and energy are consuming by the researcher, so, the problem must be identified clearly. The one solution of this can be to narrow down the problem with an aim to clarify the topic for the research. For this purpose, research questions can be used for the formation of the research problem. There can be more than one research question. It is also observed that researchers do not first decide about the use of specific research design. But they propose questionnaires, or they start interviewing far too before time to answer their research questions. But in this case, conclusions are drawn will usually be feeble and unpersuasive and be unsuccessful to answer the research question. This also makes them change their research questions or approach during their research design. This practice is taken by novice researchers, and their research questions are very wide, uncertain, and fuzzy. Research questions should be trustworthy with the research method.
The research design and methodology must be sufficient to deal with the chosen topics and the research question. Researchers have to recognise, explain, and rationalise the methodology they decide, in addition to the selection of strategies and measures implicated. Consequently, it is essential to discover the correct technique for the research question. It should discern that some of the particulars of a qualitative research task cannot be determined in advance and may perhaps be decided as they happen throughout the research process. The problem of distort differences between qualitative approaches require consistency and coherence and is known as method-slurring. This is the trouble of disfiguring differences between qualitative methods. Each method has to reveal its steadiness to its basics and will mirror them in data collection, examination, and acquaintance assert.
Good research questions must have these characteristics as these must be specific, inferring to the problem or phenomenon, it must also reflect the interference in experimental research and identify the target group of participants. Thus, the main aim behind the identification of research problem is to explore and understand the phenomenon. Moreover, the researcher should take care that he/she bestow sombre deliberation to the selected region as the foundation of research and that a qualitative scheme is pertinent and probable. Consequently, forming the research question in a good mode and choosing suitable methodology can assure innovative, attractive, and applied facts.
There are many more benefits of the information technology usages, and this is the reason that more and more organisations are now making use of information technologies. But this is surely not possible with traditional bureaucratic organisations that have strict rules and no flexibility in their operations and line of command as well as communication methods. These all need to be changed by organisations if they have to shift towards the use of information technologies within their boundaries.
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