Configurable bureaucracy and the making of Modular Man

Hirst, Alison and Humphreys, Michael (2015) Configurable bureaucracy and the making of Modular Man. Organization Studies, 36 (11). pp. 1531-1553. ISSN 1741-3044

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The flexibility of people in modern societies rests upon their capacity to divide themselves into separate modules of thought and action, and deploy them in ways that fit their purposes. The practice of ‘informatizing’ work by converting tasks into software-based processes entails the modular design of work, because software has a modular form. We use the concept of modularity to analyse the implications of informatization in the empirical context of a ‘shared service centre’ providing professional services. We make three contributions. First, informatization enlarges the scope for organizational flexibility, because the organization can be treated as a configuration of modules which can be reshuffled to suit changing circumstances. Second, employees must attempt to deploy enhanced modular capabilities, by executing any given set of processes, in a flexible, unemotional and time-efficient fashion. Third, given the ability to informatize complex service work, and the existence of organizational templates which accommodate it, the modular design and management of other services may become more common.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: bureaucracy, flexibility, informatization, modular man, professional service work, public sector reform, role
Faculty: ARCHIVED Lord Ashcroft International Business School (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Repository Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 07:58
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 19:00

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