Modernist and Symbolic Interpretivism in Organizational Perspectives

Modernists believe there exist boundaries that separate organizations and environment while symbolic-interpretivist believe group members use symbols and define how the symbol affects their individualism, rationale and collective processes and outcomes. They also explain process by which these groups and group dynamics apply the symbolic activities. In studies of organizational theories and management modern and symbolic-interpretivists perceptions have become a reoccurring theme in the development of our research. This paper will compare and contrast two organizational perspectives introduced by the authors of the texts. This paper will show assumptions underlying the management of organizations from the two perspectives mentioned in the text.

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Organization theories

In order to understand organization theories, it is important to analyze, investigate and diagnose two organization theories which include modernism and interpretivism theories. The two organizational theories will be applied to George school which is built on missions, goals, governance and emphasizes on technology for knowledge development of its students. The schools mission and goals designed to make students acquire knowledge, co-relate with each other and the friends and neighbors. The knowledge is essential for social development, creative talent and development of the athletic ability of the students.

Taking a multiple perspectives approach aides in an organization’s decision making and leadership because it helps us to realize that we put things into our own perspective. Organizations can be examined in different levels to discover the perspectives the organization employs or should employ. The best suggestion for organizations is to adapt to the perspectives that best suit their environment and structure.

George school is located in Philadelphia 1690 Newtown Langhorne Road in a safe and quiet neighborhood, an environment conducive for learning. George school was founded in 1893 by members of the Religious Society of Friends known as the Quakers. The school comprises of both boarding and day school for students of grades nine to twelve and attracts students from twenty-two states and twenty- seven foreign countries.

It attracts students of different ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds and its to this diversity that its missions and goals are fully committed to Quakerism values of equality, integrity and peace making. This inspires students to appreciate opinions and beliefs of different cultures in the school. Also, George school was among the first schools to introduce an International Baccalaureate diploma program in the United States (George School, 2009 b.)

The school is our major interest because it’s based on diverse cultures of our societies and actively participates in various initiatives globally. The schools hold various championship competitions including Fire-fighting Robot Competition Prizes and various exhibitions including Eyes on Earth Exhibition.

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The school has excellent food services which serves its students with local and organic foods. Academic and sports facilities include classroom buildings, performing arts and dance studios, auditorium, McFeely library, bank, health center and so much more. For boarding facilities, the school comprises of seven dormitories with separate buildings for boys and girls. The school constitutes a population of 537 students with 71 being from International students (U.S. A boarding, 2008, online: George School, 2009 b).

Literature review


Symbolic-interpretive is an organization theory that defines how group members use symbols and how symbol usage affects their personality, rationale and collective processes. The theory also investigates the outcomes of symbol usage and defines the process by which these groups apply the symbolic activities. This research reviews philosophical, theoretical and methodological foundation of symbolic-interpretive perspective in the context of its conceptual models and the view point of various researchers that illuminates the nature of symbolic practices, products in groups, process and predispositions (Tsoukas & Knudsen, 2003).

Symbolic-interpretive perspective originated from the pre-twentieth century based on understanding of what entailed the theory in the perception of human condition and that of the phenomenology as derived from consciousness and experiences.

This disparities gave rise to social phenomenology which explains how inter-subjectivity was created through social interaction by acts of speaking. Heidergger (1959) defines symbolic interpretive to be originating from hermeneutic phenomenology, a philosophy that viewed reality to be through our everyday language. Garfinkel (1967) on the other hand defines ethnomethodology as a way of studying methods that people use in relation to how they converse with each other to accomplish every day activities. In this theory, symbolic interpretive shows us how symbols, languages, social interaction and accomplishments were constituted in the symbolic interactionism. Social interaction was created, how it maintains itself, share meanings and social structures.

Mead (1934) defines how symbols and communication gives rise to self while Blumer (1969) coined the term symbolic interaction to be common community of symbols that allowed interactions to create shared meaning and to act together in the basis of that shared meaning.

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Many philosophers focused on symbols as the basis of creating shared meaning and collective action in symbolic interpretive perspective. For example, Langer (1942) insisted that human posses a basic need for symbols which form the central part of their knowledge and understanding. Burke (1960) defined rhetoric of symbolic action to be the perception of how human beings are viewed in terms of the symbols they use such as symbol-making and symbol-misusing.

MacIntrye (1998) claims humans to be story telling animal and Fisher (1987) explains narrative theory of communication to be based on organizing experiences into stories with plots structure, characters and action sequences with explicit and implicit narrations we derive lessons from. Therefore the scholar working on the development of social constructionism focused on reality and results from interactive processes within social groups. From all these definitions, we see that communication is the initial social process that creates reality.

Lesch (1994) explains how story telling emerged from symbolic-interpretive. He continues that story telling episodes placed members into groups thereby facilitating a shared consciousness that allowed a cover of witches that initiated changes, stability and sustainment over a period of time. He explains that a group was going through some transition after they lost one of their members and the meetings they were involved in featured metacommunication characterized with stories about the group history and handling of change in the future. These stories helped group members go through the loss of one of their members together.

Another symbolic practice appearing in group metaphors is that of figure of speech in which words that denotes to one subject are applied to the other. Frey (2004) explains that metaphors of family were originally used by members of an AIDS residence to mean their interpersonal relationship and to form their common bond. However, the residence become more heterogeneous, the family union triggered a negative reaction among residents and was replaced by a symbol of community that represented residents’ diversity and the many roles they play in the residents. Group also employed ritual metaphors that organized symbolic practices and ceremony activities which defined and represented their social and cultural significance of particular occasions, changes or evident.

Ritual metaphors were important for the experience of communitas-the commonality and community. Rituals as represented in groups comprise of memorialization and grieving for people who have died. Balloon ceremonies were held for residents who passed away and the rituals were performed in which residents, staff and loved ones stood together in circles holding balloons tied to long ribbons, this symbolizes remembrances of the deceased members then the balloons are released in the air simultaneously. This ritual help the members remember the deceased and also represents the group significant unification (Frey, 2004, p.16).

Humor has also been used in symbolic-interpretive as a social phenomenon which required both the sharer and the recipient to use symbolic practice in engaging their group members for the purpose of relieving the dialectical tension associated with group life. Meyer (1997) explains how humor was created within the work groups in child group center that unified members in the face of divisive values and behaviors. He discovered that humorous stories, teasing and jokes were used by people in distressed work environment to relieve tension, create cohesion and avoid miscommunication. He founded that humor provided a non threatening way of acknowledging disagreements and diversity subsequently promoting unity among group members by enforcing shared values (Frey, 2004, p.16).

Analysis of Symbolic-interpretive theory on education

Symbolic-interpretive theory concentrates on studying symbolic practices and sense making in an organization. In George school almost every academic discourse ranging from humanities, social sciences to natural sciences are applying the theory. When symbolic interpretive is applied to group analysis is aimed at helping us understand; a). Ways in which group members use symbols such as objects, actions or words to represent something else as a means of communication and explains the effects of symbol usage on collective processes and outcomes, on individuals and on rational usage b). How group dynamics and groups are products of symbolic interpretive theory.

The process by which group members uses symbols to communicate is referred to us symbolic management focus whereas symbolic-constitutive focus studies how groups are symbolic products of symbolic activity (Frey, 2004, P.2-3). George school uses mission statements that symbolize Quaker tradition that seeks to excelling its students in academic curriculum and development of citizenship scholars committed to pursuing truth, service, peace and stewardship of the earth. Mission statement in this matter is a symbol practice that unites the school organization as a whole. The students who practice the mission statements of the school are products of symbolic interpretive theory.

Symbolic-interpretive on rhetorical perspective as applied in groups focuses on the means by which language and symbols affect group members. Group discussion is classified as rhetorical since its functions are to resolve problems, find an agreement as mean of promoting solidarity or attaining particular task orientation function (Enos, 1981, p.720). Bales (1970) in his studies claim that strategic and non-strategic rhetoric creates inter-subjective reality in groups.

He studied how dramatizing communication in groups creates social reality for members while Johnson (1975) explained how members of certain groups; the enemies conspirators, create a shared reality from their intragroup rhetoric. George school has various group discussions christened in clubs and organizations. These clubs use languages and symbols that affect group members. Some of the school’s clubs include French club, club for African traditions and culture, the investing club among others. In these groups students discuss various problems affecting them and the school and how to help them cope with one another and communities around them.

Symbolic convergence theory explains how people exchange and interpret symbols to create a uniform shared reality that binds them together into a group. This rhetoric convergence starts with the sharing and chaining of fantasies. Theses fantasies contain themes that if repeated becomes fantasy type, a stock dramatization of which group members are identified with. The integration of various fantasy types and fantasies creates rhetoric visions, a composite group that draws group members into a common symbolic reality constituting into a rhetoric community.

Symbolic convergence theory therefore explains the process by which group members use symbols to pass around a shared representation of their group. The convergence motivates them and guides group and group members’ actions (Frey, 2004, p.6). In creating rhetoric visions in symbol creation, George school engages its student in art performances which help them see the world from different perspectives and embraces understanding and empathy. Musical events in the school create a uniform shared reality that binds them together into a group.

Symbolic-interpretive structural theory explains how actions in groups become structured through interactions. This theory distinguishes between system and structure that members call on and form to maintain their group system. In essence, structural theory is the process by which systems are produced and reproduced through members of a group using rules and resources.

It includes structures in its restructuring process and explains the symbolic activity in groups to be constituted by both means of producing a group system and the dynamic products of that particular system. Dialectical perspective theory on the other hand examines the tension experienced by individual group members and by a group as a whole. This theory explains the tension between two or more contradicting elements in a system such as that of group members where each member wants to be a leader and a follower at the same time. Dialectical theory dwells on inevitable and pervasive tension of group and the management process of those tensions through members’ communicative behavior.

From this angle, groups are constituted in the dynamic interplay of dialectical tensions and communicative responses among its group members with its relevant context. George school also experiences dialectical theory since it’s a multicultural society that attracts students from various backgrounds. It is to this reason that the school recognizes and upholds different cultures that lead to the formation of African cultural club that lets students of the African culture relate to each other easily.

The bona fide group classifies groups as containers by explaining that groups have a fixed location, part from its environment and a boundary is formed by static borders as applied to George school which is a fixed location characterized by static borders. This theory explains the symbolic construction of groups and the ways in which internal group communication is affected by it subsequently affecting the external environment in which a group is constituted (Frey, 2004, p.7).


When group members interact, they initiate symbolic practices which form their basis of communication. They employ communication strategies such as humor, rituals, metaphors, and stories. Therefore when they engage in symbolic practices, symbolic processes and products are created which creates groups identity and cultures and the specific outcomes of that symbolic groups activities such as missions and statements.

Linking together processes and products highlights the groups’ recursive and reflexive relationships such as group culture. This groups influence one another in their co-existence, for example ethnic diversity as a symbolic predisposition creates dialects tension in groups as a result of its processes and products that need to be managed through the African culture practices in George school, the symbolic practices.

Therefore symbolic predisposition, processes, practices and products continuously emerge during group formations and throughout the groups life. Also on group perspective, groups that have permeable boundaries and embedded in multicultural environment are grouped in terms of time, space and culture that influence their internal group dynamics and forces the groups to interact with other individuals, organizations and communities (Frey, 2004, p.11).

Symbolic practices mostly concentrate on focusing on how group member engage in particular forms of communication and the consequences of their communicative behavior for group process and products. Research studies explain how communicative devices such as the rituals, humor, gestures, metaphors and narratives address their symbolic practices in groups. The frequent disclosure that occurs in groups stimulates the production of narrative stories that people use as organizing schemas and as interpretative tools. For instance, mock jurors use story structures to organize and re-organize large amounts of complex evidence and constantly changing narratives.

Organization and clubs in George school form basis for group discussion as arguments or as a way of interpreting, extending or clarifying a point in a discussion group. Stories in line with narrative and symbolic convergence theories help group members achieve symbolic convergence by means of communicating group norms and values which coordinate the activities of members towards a common goal (Frey, 2004, p.12)

Modernization theory

Literature review

Modernization represents the economic factors, development and the process by which the modern society grows. It represents the central place of modernist perspective and how development is passed through various stages from the history of the West. Modernist perspective extends the analysis of development into a more complex realm with the addition of theories of social and constitutional change on focus on economic transformation.

Modernist perspective consists of non-economical element such as beliefs, values, social practices and customs which required an extension of connectional ideas concerning development of economic dimensions. George’s school has drawn out missions and statements which constitute its values and social practices which enhances development of its students. Modernization and development closely core-relate with each other in economic performance, social, cultural and political factors. Modernist perspective requires for non-economical factors to evolve in a manner consistence with logic of capitalist economic growth.

In matters of combination of norms and institutions, modernization becomes the central theme. In the early years, modern society was though to be composed of economic patterns such mass consumerism, high savings, capitalist work rhythms and investment rates, social factors such as urbanization rates and high literacy and psychological factors such as achievement, motivation and rationalism (Brohman, 1996, p.15).

The Root of Modernization Theory

Modernist perspective is clearly defined in the context of social theory particularly in the traditional and modern dichotomy as it originates from nineteenth century of classical sociologist such as the Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. Durkheim explanation of “The Division of Labor in Society” (1984) defined the differences between types of society and their different forms of social cohesion. According to this perspective, tradition societies were held together by mechanical solidarity based on group similarities with their members subjected to rigid patterns of traditional norms and values. Modern societies on the other hand performed specialized functions and institutions giving rise to the organic solidarity and stimulated the increment in social differentiation.

Weber on other hand, explained key factors in relation to industrialization to be the contributing factors to the rise of “modern” Western societies distinction from others. In his book, “The Protestant ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” 1958, he explains the birth of a Protestant ‘work ethic’ and frugality based on religious structures against waste and extravagance in seeking to define the appearance of rationalization, a culture believed to be peculiar to Western society.

Its therefore hard to combine works of both sociologist to come up with one definition of Modernist perspective in the development context since each author offers contradicting explanations between modern and traditional societies and the attempts to combine their work has been problematic. Since modernization theory excluded the sense of optimism and dwelled on Western-style modernity, neither of the two sociologists regarded modernization so brilliantly. Durkheim in his book stressed the problem that often accompanies the destruction of traditional societies by modernization while Weber on the other hand took a pessimistic position by defining how concentration of power was inevitably linked to modern, large scale development (Brohman, 1996, p.18).

Analysis of modernization effects on Education development

Educational field for years has been using both modernization and interpretative symbolic theory to keep up the economic turns of today’s world. George school for instance has drawn out goals, roles and responsibilities that enables the school run efficiently. Some of the mentioned goals include

  1. Work in projects and programs that are consistence with friends’ practices and address real human needs
  2. Help others and learn the rewards and frustrations involved in service
  3. Learn competence and cooperation that are essential in making the world a different place
  4. Help students gain insights into their own values and life goals as well as those of others.

Examples of this outlines goals in Georges school is an example of symbolic interpretative theory in the sense that scholar are working on the development of social constructionism focused on reality and results from interactive processes within social groups which represents the school. From all these definitions, we see that communication is the initial social process that creates community to which goals are drawn to (George School, 2009).

Modernist perspective claims that relationship existed in Third World societies between the degree of civilization and the differences of Western style cultural and attitudinal traits. The disparities between the two cultures is what the modernist termed as modernization in the sense that third world societies were still held on to their traditional values as compared to Western style cultures as evident in service institutional such as education and mass media.

The linkage between economical and non-economical factors such as savings, risk taking, wealth and attitudes at work takes place in a mutual reinforcement manner that supports development and subsequent birth of competition among societies. Modernist perspective application offered no monolithic structures in defining its differences in stresses, specificity and produced considerable variations within the overall approach. The theory defines diverse intellectual origins as a result of multidisciplinary roots that brought such differences of modernization in the two societies. Some of the modernization dominants originated from the classical sociology, its therefore essential to define some of the common elements of modernization (Brohman, 1996, p.16).

First, modernist perspective involves a variety of development factors such as the capital accumulation, technological change and attitudes that can be analyzed in a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Various definitions induced social changes such as values, norms, customs and beliefs to be the contributing factor changes in spheres of development. The theory of modernization in social changes came into the existence via the conceptual apparatus of classical sociology. George school roles include continued leadership in financial aid in the context of changing economic environment for independent schools.

The school’s role of economic environment is a modernization theory aspect since it has offered paths for economical development. Another role is that of financial responsibility. The school has created new process for fundraising and financial planning that ensures support of its strategic objective for the long-term benefit of the school (Brohman, 1996, p.17; George School, 2009).

Secondly, the theory consisted of societies and their component parts such as institutions, values, regions and groups which are divided into modern and traditional spheres. These two spheres are un-identical and most parts exist separately.

Although the two spheres can temporarily co-exist, modernization process implies the dissolution of the traditional sphere in the long run. In this perspective, George school has students clubs and organizations which represents different religions and groups divided into modern and traditional sphere. In modern category, clubs such as environmental organizations and French clubs represent modernist perspective while African culture clubs and arts club represents traditional spheres which helps students understand different societies and embraces their understanding and empathy (Brohman, 1996; George School, 2009).

Thirdly, modernization change process is similar to that of Third World societies and closely relate to the history of industrial capitalist world. The rates of change vary from one region to the other and temporarily on social dislocations among various groups but at the end of the day, its assumed to be beneficial to all. Modernization through capitalist industrialization is not a new concept to the west but offers general description development.

Forth; modernization in the West was brought about by internal diffusion of key factors of development such as technological innovation, investment capital and changes in values and attitudes. However, the origin of Third World societies originated from outside diffusions. The speed of modernization process gave rise to the gap between the rich and the poor societies. Technological innovation on modernization perspective, George school has embraced technology through adaptation of information technology in the school through exhibiting students’ art gallery through digital images. With the current issues of global warming, the school has also developed a new green academy facility which has enabled it earn gold-level certification under the U.S Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This modern technology is environmental friendly in building design, operations and construction (Brohman, 1996; George School, 2009).

Fifth; the speeds of diffusion and modernization process co-relate in the modernization elite of each society. These change agents acts as innovators and diffusers of modernization therefore development policies should target them to realize any changes in an organization especially the initial stages of modernization as it facilitates rapid structural transformation. Sixth; modernization depends on internal factors of each society whereas diffusion depends on the outside factors.

Therefore for efficient application, its important for organization to remove various social and cultural barriers to modernization many to which are connected to the existence of traditional sector. Deficiencies resulting from external factor such as geopolitics are the major contributors of underdevelopment. Brohman (1996, p.17) suggest that if structural change can be effected, them growth and modernization will be stimulated faster.

Modernization has stimulated organizational innovation that has brought about societal evolution and institutional change in our societies and the integration of macro and micro levels of analysis. This theory explains how organic structure was formed, its strategy and the complexities of division of labor. Organization theory explains how organizations respond to technology or market challenges. Since technological advancement is the basis of competition between nations, the theory explains its adoption in different and how it has become important basis for survival in the competitive world. Modernization has stimulated the initiation of automobile and commercial aircraft industries, electrical products, computers, software products, health care and pharmaceutical products (Hage, 1999, p.4).

Modernist perspective on formation of organic structure, strategy and the complexities of division of labor applies to George school where the school system divides its activities in schedules and calendar, Faculty and Staff Portals, News and Special Events, and Faulty and Staff Resources. These divisions represent societal evolutions and integration of different faculties that enables easy facilitation of school activities, a modernization approach.

Arbitration of law can also be seen as an act of modernization since it employed the strategy of collective bargaining for all public safety employees. The new law required all municipalities to adopt new laws that would provide uniform means of determining wages. Through modernization organization theory and research work developed in Europe countries can easily be accessed in American organizations. Most of the research works here uses tools and analytical methods offered by modern organization theories which derive from concept and propositions in the discipline of sociology and psychology.

This theory also illustrates how councils, boards and commissions were established through modern organization theory highlighting how systems were analyzed in legality, politically and historically (Lyden, 1971, p.2; Robertson, 1995, p.1). In educational approach, George school has established different faculties that deals with parents, students, staff members and friends and neighbors and illustrates how they co-relate with one another.

Modernist perspective on education explains how institutions multiply and the simple structures of traditional society and they become complex due to the technological advancements. In this perspective, modernization is closely linked to Westernization. Haliman (2006, p.169) argues that Westernization gave rise to individualism which progressively gave rise to greater numbers of individuals with high levels of need achievement consequently producing an achieving society driven with the need of higher levels of output and productivity.

The similar efforts applied in schools lead to the formation of personal modernity, a condition that was characterized by high sense of self direction, efficacy and optimism. Modernization has given rise to varying degrees of educational experiences on personal modernity as experienced among Algerian students. Studies show that Algerian students with modern orientation are positively influenced by instructions in French and by field of study.

Science students display more modern outlooks that those taking humanity subjects. This study reveals that not all educational experiences exhibit the same modernization consequences. Literacy may be generally a form of modernization and compatible with personal orientations contrary to what is depicted in the theory.

Some sociologists argue that modernization offered multiple paths to economic development while others argued that it was brought diversity in personal orientation and institutional arrangements compatible with undertaking modernization. Hallinan (2006, p.169) argues that the causal link between more schooling, productivity and more democratic individuals did not have any connection with the economic growth and political democracy therefore the tie between expanded education and more modern persons did not hold up to the causal inferences at the social level.

Modernization has crumbled the structure of social society as education has influenced inequality in education because it meant that modern society is to be more open, assumingly a more egalitarian society. These disparities also contributed to the rise of income inequality across different societies. On individual level analysis, one study showed that more educated people do not necessarily support government’s efforts to reducing inequality between men and women. On societal level, analysis indicates that the expansion of women numbers in higher education positively influences how much they will be pain in labor force. Its often assumed that women involvement in educational activities will positively influence development effects (Hallinan, 2006, p.170).

George’s school vision for the future of its financial well-being is an example of a modernist perspective since it uses its financial planning to better the lives of its students and the community at large. The school has identified operational, capital and endowment needs that are essential in implanting its plan, raised funds that are needed in supporting its capital efforts and build endowment the ongoing commitments. In its financial sustainability role, the school communicates how it will use the Barbara Dodd Anderson gift to support the school goals. The use of Barbara Dodd Anderson gift is a representation of symbolic interpretivist approach to describing the school being constructed by shared beliefs based on expectations (George School, 2009 a.).


Education affects economical, political and cultural development of a given society. Sociologists recognize mass schooling to be the outcome of modernization. This study is closely linked to the rise of mass schooling in Sweden as stimulated by pre-industrial economic base. Historians fail to provide evidence to the casual claim that mass schooling was brought about by economic development nor do they explain why the expansion of primary school enrolment if driven by economic development. Cross-national analysis reveals that the higher levels of primary enrollment are unrelated to the various measures of economic development.

It explains that throughout the 20th century, has expanded more in developed countries as compared to developing countries. On political factors, sociologist link the rise of mass schooling to the rise of the nation state. They claim that mass schooling initiated the production of loyal citizens who have in turn given rise to the theme of mass schooling. These claims have no found evidence that links mass schooling to more integrated nation-state. Primary education expansions also fail to show how political and societal effects apply to modernization (Hallinan, 2006, p.171).

In the post-World War II era, nations were committed to expanding mass schooling on all national boundaries and socio-economic formations, therefore the rise in mass schooling might have not been necessarily been brought about by modernization since the mixed evidences do not provide much support to this claims. Varying levels of development are brought about by educational disparities. Studies show that trends in curricular development relates to the requirements of local economical or political structures to the interest of local masses, education for instance. Studies also reveal that growth of mass schooling involves the expansion of schools for both boys and girls (Hallinan, 2006, p.172).

Comparison of modernization and symbolic interpretivist theory assumptions

Every organization has assumptions based on underlying management and every organization manages these assumptions differently. Some organizations manage and organize knowledge better than others while some have no processes for managing knowledge at all. The four assumptions used in Stewart’s study examine the operational and strategic affects they have on organizations. Symbolic-interpretive perspective believes in internal processes and organizational learning mostly dwelling on how individuals interact while the modernist perspective show the competitive realities of today’s marketplace, the development of technology and the emergency of different organizational structures. The following paragraphs detail the study of these underlying assumptions.

From the philosophical, theoretical and methodological practices we have looked at, its evident that symbolic-interpretive is a set of assumptions about groups, the study of the groups and group dynamics. The assumptions include;

  1. A group is a socially constructed concept; this assumptions applies to the George school missions and statements as well as the clubs and organizations.
  2. as a socially constructed concept, a group is not a fixed container but is characterized by a fixed location with static borders; the static borders are initiated by construction of faculties that different students identify with, a modernist perspective for this instance.
  3. the social construction of a group occurs via interactants’ symbolic activities. It explains that primary activities that constitute these groups are by means of group members who interact to create a shared reality that binds the group together. In modernist perspective, symbolic activities such as environmental organization in George school facilitates developed a new green academy facility a technology that is environmental friendly in building design, operations and construction.
  4. Studying social construction requires the researcher to employ methods that effectively use and interpret the symbols in group dynamics.

These assumptions of symbolic-interpretive help us understand how group dynamics are formed and offer conceptual models that attempt to explain the symbolic nature of group dynamics (Frey, 2004, p.8).

The assumption that “knowledge is worth managing” was the most common out of the study by the research team in the Stewart study (Stewart, 2000). In the 1999/2000 time frame of the study it was noted that a “paradigm shift” in the economy was occurring prior to the economic crisis we are in today. At this time postmodernist organizations began to pursue knowledge management prior to determining the need for it.

The assumption that “organizations benefit from knowledge management”, the school for this instance has a modernistic approach because it can be researched and confirmed to be true based on school’s success “tied more to its intellectual and systems capabilities than to its physical assets” Modernist organizations relate benefits and value to having competitive strategies in management. Part of the assumption is that organizations value these strategies because it creates and maintains a competitive edge.

Another part of the modernist assumption is that effective management strategies and improvements in the research and development departments will improve the way the organization conducts business and its relationships with customers, other businesses, suppliers, and manufacturers. These benefits will remain in the organization as long as the management maintains relationships and technological ingenuity (Stewart, 2000).

The assumption that “knowledge can be managed” has a symbolic interpretivist approach because it is dominated primarily by organizations that undertake “knowledge management initiatives” (Stewart, 2000). These initiatives are a symbolic interpretivist approach to describing the environment being constructed by shared beliefs based on expectations. The assumption also visits the problem on whether or not the underlying assumption can be managed within the organization under the current environment.

A service-based economy followed by organizational knowledge and technological changes drive the strategic motivations for this assumption.Classifying knowledge into two categories “tact or explicit” help organizations separate knowledge into manageable entities which make things easier for management.

The assumption that “minimal risk is associated with managing knowledge” is another modernistic assumption because of their belief of rational ideas that can be replicated in scientific real world situations (Stewart, 2000). This is one of the largest underlying assumptions of organizational management because it makes a risky statement.

There is always risk associated with any type of management, whether or not it is or can be minimized is a subjective statement that can only be determined by the person who made it or the members of the organization that must work to support it. With an assumption that makes such a bold statement comes the responsibility to account for it and have the ability to manage knowledge effectively and efficiently. This is also one of the most critical, challenging, and risky assumptions because it can have devastating consequences if wrongly executed.

When thinking of this modernistic assumption strategically, one must remember the risks that come with inefficiently planned methods can lead to improper organizational management. Poor management decisions and management of organization assets and knowledge lead to failure and disaster for an organization. In order to avoid these failures organizations must place trust in their managers to perform to their expectations and produce positive results and to succeed in minimizing the risk associated with organizational management.

From an operational standpoint managers must learn to utilize the tools available to them to minimize risks of managing from the focus of technology as well as selecting the right time to manage the organization’s assets (Stewart, 2000). Data stored electronically must be backed up and archived daily, weekly, and monthly in order to ensure no data is lost. Organization’s financial records, inventory, and shipments must be tracked and stored securely to minimize the risk of theft or loss.

In order to determine possibilities for designing and managing organizations using the perspectives we must acknowledge the “existence of organizational boundaries from which arises the question of how to manage them”. Buffering is a technique Hatch & Cunliffe (2006) describe as “protecting the internal operations of the organization from interruption by environmental shocks. In other words a buffer, or assigned member of the organization, ensures nothing disturbs the inner workings of the organization.

Projected issues are taken care of by the buffer by relieving production workers from having to slow or stop production to solve problems from manufacturers who provide raw materials to the organization. The researchers mentions other buffering techniques such executing simple, functional, multidivisional, matrix, hybrid, and combinations of organizational designs that help create ranges of possibilities for designing and managing organizations. Each of these features is associated with a modernistic, post modernistic, or symbolic interpretivist perception.

Simple organizations are composed of “flexible relationships with limited differentiation and almost no hierarchy” that usually have small noncomplex structures (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006). Simple organizations in schools administration and clubs are organic in nature and have a modernist perception because of the informal supervision and openness to the hierarchy. These organizations are either newly developing startup organizations that grow and develop over time or remain small by choice because of the desire of the management or owners such as independent small business owners. An organization with a simple design is easy to manage because of the small size and structure. Most often small simple organizations are the typical “mom and pop” family owned businesses that have a simple business plan and are easily managed and maintained.

A functional organization design plan has more structure and departments than a simple design plan. Functional design plans include a dynamic group structure “according to a logic of similarity in work functions” that imply “high levels of task interdependence and common goals” (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006). This type of organizational design has a low level of hierarchy with basic areas such as sales, purchasing, finance and accounting, and human resources which are all managed by the owner or CEO of the organization. This type of design has a modernistic perception because of its more formalized structure that uses the basic foundation of design for many organizations in various industries.

A multidivisional design groups divisions together that have their own sub divisions separate from those with a low level hierarchy such as the functional design. Multidivisional designs have a symbolic interpretivist perception because each organization that manages under this design has specific structure to an organization. Divisions in the organization manage different functions as a structured unit that takes care of daily operations such as sales, marketing, engineering, etc., the divisions then report to the CEO directly. This type of design incorporates management team of division heads with authority all managed and directed to a primary CEO.

Comparison of modernization and symbolic interpretivist theory on educational aspect

On technological aspect, George school offers intensive interaction sessions about robots and technology to her students. The school teacher at the school has incorporated robots into teaching science, math and technology. Use of robots in teaching students in middle school and at college levels is a symbolic interpretivist while the technology obtained is a modernist perspective which has served as an opportunity of educators in local area to learn the school’s curriculum and enable them share insights about teaching similar subjects to other communities. This also helps them make connections that could lead to collaboration with other teachers.

The school also offers computer programming courses that allow candidates to progress more academically. On modernist perspective, use of advanced technology enhances development and stimulates economical development. A scientist at the school admits that the robot technology has enabled the students built and program autonomous robots that can navigate and respond to their surroundings without any human or remote control assistance.

Students have also incorporated subjects such as math, science, electronics and engineering skills into robot programs using BasicX widely used in industrial control, home automation and fire fighting engines. These are examples of modernization theories that ahs helped advance our economy from traditionalism to westernization (George School, 2009).

Researchers focused on symbols as the basis of creating shared meaning and collective action in symbolic interpretive perspective. The students program applied BasicX robotic technique to be used as a microcontroller programming language that was easily understood by students undertaking various subjects at the school to represent their central part of their knowledge and understanding. The BasicX symbol was also used as a communication device to be based on different disciplines of education that brought about change, the modernist perspective (George School, 2009).

The variables examined in the essay are dependent and independent variables. The dependable variables for this instance are the school’s missions and goals of which they are depended on for the success of the students which constitutes modernist perspective for this case. Independent variables on the other hand are the clubs and organization that students engage in to pursue their education which is independent on the schools objectives, a symbolic interpretative theory for this matter. In effectiveness application, modernist organizations relate benefits and value to having competitive strategies in management.

Part of the assumption is that organizations value these strategies because it creates and maintains a competitive edge. George school robot innovation a teaching model enabled the school enter into several competitions with other schools, one included where it was involved in a fire fighting competition with Trinity College. Competitions on technological aspects increase innovation an advance, aspects that are very essential to economical development.

Another part of the modernist assumption is that effective management strategies and improvements in the research and development through scientific advancements will improve the way the organization conducts business and its relationships with customers, other businesses, suppliers, and manufacturers. These benefits will remain in the organization as long as the management maintains relationships and technological ingenuity (George School, 2009).

The symbolic interpretative theory effectiveness included the symbolic interactionism theory that the school applied in its goals, roles and responsibilities that enabled them to work together in projects and programs that were consistence with neighboring school’s practices and addressed real human needs. Activities that helped others and learn the rewards and frustrations involved in service, Taught the community competence and cooperation that are essential in making the world a different place and by helping students gain insights into their own values and life goals as well as those are benefits that helped the school to work with its surrounding community members an essential tool for the school development (George School, 2009).

Discussion and Conclusion

This paper compared and contrasted the modernist and symbolic interpretivist organizational perspectives introduced by the authors of the texts. This paper presented assumptions underlying the management of organizations from the two perspectives. The accomplishments achieved in this paper described two perspectives in detail as well as providing insight to some of the possibilities for designing and managing organizations. This paper also discussed the underlying assumptions of management in organizations and how the two perspectives relate to those assumptions. George school is structurally coined in both modernist and symbolic interpretivist perspectives that co-exist with each other in running of school activities.


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