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Configuring bureaucracy and the making of the modular man.

Hirst, A. and Humphreys, M. (2015) 'Configuring bureaucracy and the making of the modular man.', Organization studies., 36 (11). pp. 1531-1553.


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:Article
Keywords:Bureaucracy, Flexibility, Informatization, Modular man, Professional service work, Public sector reform, Role.
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Publisher statement:Hirst, A. and Humphreys, M. (2015) 'Configuring bureaucracy and the making of the modular man.', Organization studies., 36 (11). pp. 1531-1553. © The Author(s) 2015. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Record Created:10 Jul 2014 13:05
Last Modified:07 Mar 2018 16:17

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