and Organization Behavior
and management is a broad subject that have been discussed through various studies
and theories with many different opinions. Over the years, to identify the
interaction between leaders or managers and their employees, different management
concept has been created such as the Contingency Theory (ref) and Systems
Theory (ref) or the Trait theory (ref) or furthermore the Theory X (ref) and
Theory Y (ref).
according to Miles (2012), the comparison between these management and
leadership theories are not suitable as different theory will have different
application and unique set of circumstances. Focusing on applying the possible relevant
aspects of different theories to create a unique suitable management approach
and style will be more beneficial for the organization.
this report, to analyses the management approach and style of Amazon, the political
system in Morgan’s organization metaphor will be use. Morgan (1997) believe
that the interaction and relationship between the manager, leader and the
employees in the organization can be portray as a political system where the levels
and nature of political activities is shaped by the existed political rule (Evans,
Hassard & Hyde 2013). Organization as a political systems focus on human
assertiveness in the realms of “interest, conflict and power” (Morgan 1986). Moreover,
using Morgan’s model will help to provide an insight look into the organization
structure and behavior and its management practice. There is different type of
Political systems will be examining in this report including: Autocracy, Bureaucracy,
Technocracy and Direct Democracy.
analysis made in this report will be based on the article: “Inside Amazon:
Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” published by the New York
Times. The article provides a deeper view on an Amazon employee’s life by highlighting
the company’s culture and management. Base on the information in this article
and further research, this report will try to prove the existence of a
political system in Amazon’s management approach.
refer to the situation where most of the power in the organization is hold by
an individual or a small group of people as they have control on the critical
resources, ownership rights or having personal privilege (ref). Autocratic
leader decision-making is based on his/her beliefs and influenced by non or
only a bit of others suggestions or advices. Furthermore, according to (ref) the
autocratic leader tend to think of them as transcendent and it would be a reproach
to take any aids. The decision made by autocratic leader can be unethical as it
often doesn’t consider the reason behind the incident (ref).
the case of Amazon, the company has been reported about the annually fires of
workers that fail to adapt to the company’s corporate philosophy which they
call the “purposeful Darwinism”. (Kantor & Steitfeld 2015) believe that the
lay-offs of these employees are ruthless as the company did not consider the
situation where the worker having health issues and did not allow them time to recover.
a fact that the founder and the CEO of the company – Jeff Bezos is running
Amazon in autocracy as he dictates the organization’s management philosophy. Furthermore,
the poor working environment for packing boxes worker is a perfect example for
the existence of autocracy in Amazon. Those workers were forced to work in a high
temperature storage facility without any solution to reduce the heat like air
conditioning which lead to the pass out of some workers. This is also a result
of the strict of outflow information from the company as only authorized manager
are able to speak to the media which mean there is limited freedom of speech
for the workers which also eliminated the chance for them to raise their voice
about any unfair treatment. The recruiting process at Amazon can also be an
example. In the job interview process, candidates either fit the profile of
Amazon and get a job or they will not have it (Kantor & Steitfeld 2015). In
another word, they either embrace the Amazon way or no way which shown outright
of autocracy in Amazon.
a direct democracy organisation, regardless to their position in the company,
all the employees had the right to contribute to the decision making process in
the organisation (Morgan, 1997). According to Kane (2012), direct democracy
system will encourage the employees to take action, responsibility and
self-organise rather than waiting for the guidance from the senior managers in
the daily business operation.
case of Amazon, the existence of direct democracy can be demonstrated through
some example. Take a look at Amazon’s policy, they encourage worker to
communicate their ideas during the meeting without getting criticize as they
believe these exchange of information and opinions will create the creativity
in the workforce (Kantor & Steitfeld 2015). Technology based companies is
heavily depended on the direct democracy as it nature will help firms to generate
more creativity which are the fuel for success (ref).
Amazon does not restrict but encourage any possible contribution from the
workforce. This can be proved by the development of Amazon Prime Air where the
ideas and indication was majorly coming from the junior workers. Essentially,
this project was reportedly a brainchild of one of the lower subordinate
engineers called Daniel Buchmueller (Kantor & Steitfeld 2015). The Anytime
Feedback Tool system can also be used to demonstrate the direct democracy in
Amazon. The feedback from the employees to the management team either positive or
negative remain anonymous. This encourage the workers to speak up freely with
honestly which would be beneficial for the improvement of the working environment
and the management process.
Amazon also create a social structure where there is competition between the
employees about generating new ideas where worker with the best idea will win.
This encourage and motivate the workforce to challenge each other openly and
create a fair environment. The ideas will be evaluated and asset fairly depend
on the company policy and thus allow them to earn the opportunity for promotion
as a form of reward without any barrier. The social structure also allows the
employees to defend themselves or their colleagues if they are criticised
unfairly (ref). The article mentioned about the case where managers and supervisors
defended their team members and employees when they were facing the fired
charge from the company (Kantor & Steitfeld 2015).
bureaucratic structure theory was developed by Weber (ref). According to Weber,
there are two fundamental characteristics in a bureaucratic structure of the organisation.
Firstly, the structure of the organisation will be hierarchical. It demonstrated
that there will be clear different levels of management. The lower levels of hierarchy
will be subordinate and the higher levels hierarchy will give orders. Secondly,
there will be a set of strict law, rules and procedures that illustrate the
objective, direction and how the organisation function. In addition, Morgan
(1997) state that organisation with bureaucracy system tend to have less room
for flexibility in the business operation.
to autocracy and direct democracy, the existence of Bureaucracy can be
demonstrated through Amazon’s guidelines for the employees. As mentioned about
the strict outflow of information from the organization, only controlled and authorized
managers who had to follow through several convention of the company are allowing
to share any information on behalf of the company. Taking information from the “leadership
principles” of Amazon, Jeff Bezos were putting several rules which also limited
the flexibility of the workforce.
existence of bureaucracy can also be draw from the company’s performance
improvement plan. This program is used to identify the non-productive worker
and put them on strictly supervision on a daily basis in order to assist them (Kantor
& Steitfeld 2015). However, it seems to be that the program even put more
stress on the employees thus not increasing the productivity but reduced it
further. The manager and supervisor in the program does not tend to look up to
the problem with the employees such as unavoidable problem like health issues
but still punished them indiscriminately (Kantor & Steitfeld 2015). Moreover,
when the problem was aware by the superior managers, they are not seeming to
willing to change or adjust the management policies.
a technocracy system, the decision-maker will be based on their technical expertise.
to this system, Morgan believe that the authority of technocracy systems uses
the application of knowledge, experience and a method of data-driven management
in making decision. Furthermore, (ref) support Morgan’s view by stating that
the leader in a technocracy system tend to make the decision based on the
information they have from methodology rather than their own belief and
on the Amazon corporate philosophy, Technocracy seems to be the most suitable
mode for the political rule in Amazon. Amazon is heavily depended on the
data-driven type of management (ref). The founder and the CEO of Amazon, Jeff
Bezos is really confident in the power of metrics. This is a consequence of the
use of algorithms disrupted within the Wall Street in the early 90s where Jeff
Bezos was gaining large amount of experience through it. Moreover, generating
solution through technology application is a company policy as every employee need
to specialize in the field of business. The positive result of this is the
capabilities of Amazon employees in exploring the possible issues in depth and
develop a creative knowledge-based solution to address the customers’ problems
(Kantor & Steitfeld 2015).
innovation of the company’s technology in delivering their products can be used
to illustrated the appearance of technocracy in Amazon. The use of drone was
put in use and automated resupply of toilet paper is an example. All the
developing process of the two example above is developed by the company’s
employees. According to the employees in Amazon, the fast pace of Amazon in
reacting to change had a big influence from the use of technology. As the data
of the performance of each individual employee and manager will be record and
monitor by the system, the employees of Amazon, both present and at the past
agreed that Amazon have the advantage of technology and it is the main factor
that will drive them to success by now and in the future.
throughout this report, it is clearly that the founder and the CEO Jeff Bezos
had applied different political rule in the daily operation of Amazon. Most of
the information was taken from the article: “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas
in a Bruising Workplace” published by the New York Times which given an
insight look into both past and present employees of Amazon. To sum up, there
were appearance of use of Autocracy, Direct democracy, Bureaucracy, and
Technocracy in the operation of the organization. The limited in outflow of
information from the low hierarchy position show a high level of control of
information thus suggest a high level of autocracy from the firm. Moreover, the
confession some worker made in the article is the regard to the existence of bureaucracy
in the management cycle. The company have some strict rules about level of sufficient
productivity, however the high level of turnover of workers suggest that it is
possible that some of the rules are counterproductive.
use of Technocracy is the clearest among of the four political system. It
application can be shown everywhere in the company operation. For example, the
requirement of specialization in Amazon is very high as employees are expected
to handle the complicated process of their work and on the other hand keeping a
high level of creativity to suggest the possible innovation in the organization
conclude, through the discussion made in this report, Amazon undoubtedly using
several Political System in the Morgan’s Organization Metaphor in their
business management practice. The use of political system helps Amazon to
create a strong reliable business structure that allow them to retain their success
for years, including became the largest E-commerce business in the world (ref).