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Compare and contrast the different ways in which organisations seek to control individual employees - Can an individual ever be fully controlled?

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Compare and contrast the different ways in which organisations seek to control individual employees. Can an individual ever be fully controlled? In order to examine such a fundamental topic as the control methods employed by organisations, we must first understand what we mean by control and why it is such an important area of study. According to the Oxford Paperback Dictionary, control is "the power to give orders or to restrain something." Control and power are two topics which are inherently related to one another. It is rare that you find mention of one without the presence of the other. It is impossible to study organisations without at some point encountering theories of power and control. In fact, some protagonists argue that power and control are intrinsically linked to organisational structure and management: Central organisational processes thus involve the control of activities. (Fincham & Rhodes, 1999) However, there is another more basic reason for the study of control and power. This second reason is the nature of organisations and their aims. Every organisation strives to achieve certain specified goals. To do this they employ a workforce to carry out tasks which contribute to the realization of these goals. Without exerting power in the form of control, the workforce may not achieve these goals or even carry out their assigned tasks. ...read more.


At work this may equate to excluding women from positions of seniority or winning definitional privileges. On the other hand Etzioni argues that power has to be seen as legitimate by those being subjected to it. Foucault's model comes from an altogether different perspective. He disagrees with the idea of individuals holding power, instead arguing that power reflects masses of knowledge which get rooted in practices that 'identify us'. The foundations on which the majority of modern theorists base their work are Alienation, Rationalisation and Taylorism. These were the works of three pioneers of organisational behaviour and sociology: Karl Marx, F. W. Taylor and Max Weber. The Alienation theory put forward by Marx and Weber's Rationalisation can be looked at together as they both concern the individual and have some similarities. Alienation was defined by Marx as the following: What constitutes the alienation of labour? Firstly the fact that labour is external to the worker, i.e. ...that he does not confirm himself to his work, but denies himself, feels miserable and not happy ...His labour is therefore...forced labour. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need but a mere means to satisfy needs outside itself. Its alien character is clearly demonstrated by the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists it is shunned like the plague. ...read more.


It is in human nature to resent and resist situations which are uncomfortable, depressing or unfair. And the more the situation is compounded, or the longer it remains unresolved, the worse the resentment and conflict will get. Total control would be possible if an individual had no other choice, but this situation never arises. There is no organisation in the world that has a complete monopoly over one task or required skill. Thus the individual always has the option of leaving the position they occupy and taking up another one within a different organisation. This is more so the case in the modern era, where regulations guiding working conditions are becoming enforced all over the world. On the other hand, I believe that there are instances where an individual can be fully controlled. Probably the best example of this would be a prison. It is the inmates of a prison that I believe can be fully controlled. The difference between an individual in a prison and an employee is the environment in which they 'operate'. Due to the nature of a prison, the inmates lack complete free will. They cannot do as they wish, nor can they simply walk out if they do not like it. This lack of free will means that one can completely reduce an inmate's actions to a rational routine. Once this has been achieved constraints can be put on that routine to control the individual. With a lack of free will the individual may still resent the situation, but will comply with it. ...read more.

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