Hatch and Cunliffe: Organizational Theories

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Organisational theories require an extensive comprehension in order to visualize the approaches that the whole organisation can use for its application. Organisational theories may comprise of different perspectives such as how Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) used the approaches in their textbook. Also, there are perspectives about organisational theories that suggests about understanding the organisational behaviour of a firm which may define a group or an individual scope. This may also entail a view of how the whole organisation is understood in order to develop a good level of analysis and methods for the firm. Moreover, there are also ideas that pertain to the comprehension of power, culture and the external factors associated within an organisation (Crowther and Green, 2004). This includes understanding the population of an organisation which is a significant factor for determining the position of the company in the industry and as well knows the important factors on how to develop and improve the organisation.

In an organisation, it is expected that people interact with each other as to the workplace calls for this kind of environment. In line with this interaction is the consideration of the factors which has to be viewed accordingly to be able to be more efficient. Hatch and Cunliffe (2006), offer the three perspectives for organisational theory which are the modern, symbolic- interpretative and the post- modern perspective. These perspectives contribute to the development of power and culture in an organisation which try to help analyse the organisation. However, a lot of criticisms occur about the modern approaches of the theories and somehow delays the understanding and broadening of the topic in a larger sense. But an argument tagged as the theories are considered by some as vital for the success of an organisation.

Looking into a clearer view, an organisation targets a specific area like the management or marketing area. Thus, the professionals are called for the expertise of the field and are then required to come up with the solutions adhering to the needs of the organisation. These professionals are then needed to define the theories in order to comprehend with the flow of the process and consider the priorities of the organisations. The organisation, upon the decision of the professionals or the leaders, will then act as a group depending on the way the members opted to act. The organisation may apply modern, symbolic-interpretative and postmodernism approaches to the organisational theory. They are encouraged to apply such as the theorists suggest in having a more productive organisation.


Modern, symbolic- interpretative and post- modern perspectives are the three approaches that Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) used as a model for explaining the organisation theory. According to Hatch and Cunliffe (2006), these approaches are important in getting a good grasp of understanding the hierarchy and the set of beliefs or trends in an organisation. Since the era of Plato, there have been a lot of organisational perspectives that are used by the philosophers. Although these are old enough to consider and apply in the real world, these have been the foundation of creating modern perspectives. The theories about organisations give an explicit view and understanding the processes in a firm. This also encourages the people to comprehend accordingly to analyse the importance of the external factors and other approaches.

Modern Perspective

Modern perspective in organisational theory is integrated with the use of scientific approach to the state of the theory. This perspective occurs during the 1960s- 70s and the concept suggests a vital factor for building the theory as an organisational science. It involves an extensive understanding of what an organisation has and the things that exists in it (Scott, 2003). As such, in business organisations, the leaders are exposed into the thought of functional areas like marketing, product planning, finance, public relations and the like are regarded as a separate entity (Santos and Eisendhardt, 2005). However, organisational theory considers a total area of responsibility and calls for an understanding of the total sum of the different departments although modernist approach is an individual evaluation of the ideas in a subjective form in order to generate knowledge as a whole. It is said that an organisation is vibrant has its unique identity from any other organization. It means that activities and interactions occur within the organization and tell the complexities of knowing the important details that affects the power and culture (Santos and Eisendhardt, 2005). Formally, a business organization can be viewed in an organizational chart that describes the functions of each significant player in each area. The Modern perspective is on the side of looking into the organisation as a whole entity and considering the individual roles of each.

The different levels in an organisation are regarded as important factors of the theory as it make up for the whole concept of the organisation and largely affect the power and culture of the environment. Individuals who act in an organization basically reflect the flow of the organisation’s specific area and represent these in a single view. Scientifically, modern approach entitles a wide understanding of the theories with regard to the how culture and power relate to the decisions of making an organisational plan and the behaviour within an organisation. As such, modern approach in an organisation is like visualising a deal with how the areas are run through the leaders of the organisation. Power initially stimulates the leaders of the organisation and the organisational behaviour depicts the culture. In addition to, the idea is into the subjective understandings that initiate a predisposition of ideas which reflects the side of science. However, the predisposition is trying to eliminate by science through the reasonable ideals of modern perspective. Thus, this measures the efficiency of the performance in an organisation to be able to increase the success factors through theory application. And apparently, this perspective will then evolve into the idea of postmodernism through the shifting of the era.

Symbolic- Interpretative Perspective

While modernism is into the scientific dogmatism of an organisation’s entity, the symbolic- interpretative perspective says that this idea is unavoidable which requires a deep understanding of its meaning. The idea allows the investigation and analysis of the subjective occurrence. It caters to the organisation as a community which is fed up by its population and uses an interpretative epistemology. Compared to the modernist perspective that measures the organisation, the symbolic- interpretative approach looks at the process of generating meanings and interpretations which will make sense to the people who strive hard in attaining such goals for the organisation. This approach considers the people in the organisation as the member of the team and an open communication is present (Stohl and Putnam, 2003).

Cooperation is depicted in this approach unlike the modernist. Thus, power and culture is affected in the sense of building groups in an organisation. It makes up a culture which reflects unity in order to work together and appreciates the effort done by each member in achieving the target goal of the whole. If a group uses a symbolic-interpretative perspective, this also depicts how the organisation use symbols and assesses the effects of the symbols on the individuals and outcomes with regard to the relational and collective process (Stohl and Putnam, 2003). Also, the way the organisation approach a specific detail reflects how a symbolic activity works for them whether efficient or not. With the foundation of philosophical, theoretical and methods used in the symbolic-interpretative perspective, a framework is then established with the nature of symbolic-interpretative predispositions and process in an organisation.

Symbols, language, achievement and social interaction are related with each other in the form of symbolic interaction. This maintains the interaction of the individuals in an organisation through the interpretation of the symbols in the environment where self and shared meanings for the social structures are then applied to the organisation (Stohl and Putnam, 2003). With that in mind, symbols and communication play a significant role on building the symbolic- interpretative perspective that creates a shared meaning for the whole team (Stohl and Putnam, 2003). It influences the power and culture for an organisation through the beliefs and ideas that the people share. The selection of the leaders depends on the shared ideas of the individuals through the symbols and communication that they share with each other. Unity still prevails on the decisions of the members of the organisation and thinks in a way that will benefit all those who are involve in the process.

Post-modernism Perspective

The approach then evaluates the production of scepticism in for any theories that prevail to emerge. It also encourages the people to shift towards a trend which is completely different from the previous one. This perspective broadens the idea of what is perceived in an organisation. As such, if managers are thinking about the development of the organisation, they are pertaining to a larger scope and consider the whole organisation no matter what area they are from. A marketer will not just stand for the theories of how to market a product but also on how it will work for the management department, finance and other (Kingshuk and Van de Ven, 2005). Organisational theories are very broad though and important aspects like the technology, physical areas and culture have to be evaluated. In the post-modern idea, this somehow entails a more responsive approach for the organisations in measuring its behaviour.

Post-modernism usually appears to be an independent perspective that allows revision for other theories. It seeks reasoning for a specific belief and challenges the motivations that are generated in maintaining them. Probably, a post-modernist thinks that the idea of post-modernism objectifies the theory of organisation which is the combination of the three perspectives; modern, symbolic- interpretative and post- modernism. But, post-modern approaches are able to accept potentials of the individuals and the organisations explicitly suggest that they are dependent on the modernism. It offers solutions to the organisations in planning aspects but still it needs to be deconstructed in order to stand alone from the influence of modernism. Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) though have been sure about the post-modern organisations. They see the post-modern organisations as having the higher level of the inclusion of the women, minority group and regardless of what age an employee may be or most commonly referred to as the marginalised members. Also, the transition of modernism to postmodernism is largely seen by the author all throughout the shifting of the era (Hatch, 1997).

Organisations are the main focus of the theories in a society because of its being dynamic. In some way, post-modernism relates to chaos because of the complexities of the ideas that it generates. Some people agree that one way of accepting postmodernism is through deconstructing the order of modernism. Lessening the modernist approach in the postmodernism perspective is explicit and this may bring an intricacy for the prevailing perspectives. The idea conveys a disintegration of the contexts and the start of the new technology which requires a new kind of understanding. Critically, postmodernism refutes the probabilities of accepting the evolution of epistemological approaches. Studying an organisation needs a critical mix of the theories. But in this case, postmodernism tends to doubt other theories and contest the validity of other approaches. Sceptical viewpoint is a generic approach to postmodernism that the theorists agree on. Hence, this approach is put on a highlight because it deals with the democracy in the workplace, the sustainability, and understanding the process of production and consumption.


In the context of the postmodernism perspective, the people are expected to have a wider scope of understanding as the era emerges and empowerment of the marginalised group is given a highlight. The power and culture is greatly affected in many ways. The organisational perspectives discussed, selecting the leaders in an organisation mean having enough freedom to choose for someone that the members think will be productive. If the modern perspective is more on the scientific approaches for the organisation where subjectivity prevails, it may result to a biased selection. Symbolic-interpretative also caters to an unjust decision because the individuals rely more on the symbols that they see on a specific idea. Postmodernism though is influenced by the modernist approach; it somehow holds a strong point of an organisational theory because it applies the complications of the significant factors and the new era. Empowerment in this era has been the culture in many business organisations and as globalisation comes in, many organisations are adapting the same trend.

The culture plays an important role in these perspectives because it serves the way how the people can measure the efficiency of an approach. The culture reflects how a perspective is used through the development of ideas in an organisation. Also, it reflects the organisational behaviour of the employees most especially those who are in position. However, culture also determines the negativity of these approaches. Although Hatch and Cunliffe (2006) is more on the positivity of the approaches, it still depicts an argument which should be further evaluated by the managers in the real world for the application of these theories. But still, a lot of criticisms appear on each perspective for the organisational theory. Some agrees but many theorists still are not convinced with the ideas of the authors.


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Hatch, Mary Jo. (1997). “Organization Theory: A postmodern perspective”. London: Oxford University Press.

Hatch, M.J. and Cunliffe, A. (2006). Organization Theory: Modern, symbolic and postmodern perspectives. Oxford University Press.

Kingshuk, S. and Van de Ven, A. (2005). Designing work within and between organizations. Organization Science, 16, 389-408.

Santos, F. and Eisendhardt, K. (2005). Organizational boundaries and theories of organization. Organization Science, 16, 491-508.

Scott, W. Richard. (2003). Organizations: Rational, Natural and Open Systems (5th ed.). New York: Prentice-Hall.

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