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Anarchical Institutions

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Brent McCoy

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Anarchical Institutions

Anarchical Institutions
Organized Anarchy
"Loose Coupling"
"Garbage-Can Decision Making"
Problematic Goals
No explicit goal-setting/inability to define goals
Unclear Technology
Effects of specific technology are unknown (+/-)

"Choices of technology tends to be based on trial and error, previous experience, limitations, and inventions born of necessity." (pg 155-156)
Fluid Participation
Various formal and informal groups, with sporadic attendance by members

Attendees are not always members; often actively participate despite this

Other opportunities pull individuals away from groups
Unresolved concerns of people inside the institution

Products created by people, often developed to solve a problem; on occasion, solutions come before problems and seek out questions to answer or issues to address

Those involved in decisions
Choice Opportunities
Occasions on which a decision has to be made by the organization
Rational coupling, allowing sound decisions to be made; less likely to occur than Flight or Oversight
Assumes coupling is loose enough to allow detachment; whatever stream is causing issue is removed from garbage can and a decision can now be made
Decision made very quickly so tighter coupling cannot occur; complications in making decision are not an issue as there is no notice that a decision needs to be made
Goals are ambiguous at best
Goals are a "loose collection of changing ideas rather than a coherent educational philosophy
"Imagine that you're either the referee, coach, player, or spectator at an unconventioal soccer match: the field for the game is round; there are several goals scattered haphazardly around the circular field; people can enter and leave the game whenever they want to; they can throw balls in whenever they want; they can say 'that's my goal' whenever they want. The entire game is played on a sloped field; and the game is played as if it makes sense......it depicts a setting that to the observer appears chaotic and in which people appear to do what they feel like doing. Yet, there is structure to it. Roles are specified, the players stay on an officially designated field (by and large) and they usually throw balls rather than bricks or marshmallows. Moreover the participants can make sense of what is happening (although their versions may differ) even if the observer cannot" (pg. 152-153, para. 4)
Model used to describe a system where everyone does what they wish.
To understand the concept, one must suspend commonsense ideas about organizations
and accept unpredictable behavior as the norm, where boundaries are present, yet invented
Effective Leadership
Lack of tight coupling can allow for...
Sensitive response to issues of semi-independent units
Innovation, due to lack of management controls
Institution to respond to multiple issues simultaneously, rather than one at a time
"The stream of choice opportunities can be thought of metaphorically as offering large receptacles, or garbage cans, through which flow the other streams of problems, solutions, participants. In the garbage an, specific problems, participants and solutions coalesce with a particular choice point and then become attached (that is, more tightly coupled) to each other" (pg 162, para 2)
Eight Basic Tactical Rules of Influence
spend time
exchange status for substance
facilitate opposition participation
overload the system
provide garbage cans
manage unobtrusively
interpret history
"the discrepancy between what leaders are presumed to do and how they actually behave....is an illusion and that the role is in large measure a symbolic one with only modest influences...infuence may be related to style, an ability to cope, well publicized actions on noncontroversial topics, and dramatic performances that emphasize the traits popularity linked to leadership, such as forcefulness, responsibility, courage and decency" (pg 168, para 2)
Birnbaum, R. (1988). How colleges work: The cybernetics of academic organization and leadership. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
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