نقدینگی، کدها و پیچیدگی: ماجراهای جدید در مدیریت عمومی مقیاس های پرداخت
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8653||2007||22 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Scandinavian Journal of Management, Volume 23, Issue 2, June 2007, Pages 146–167
Communication makes a difference. The manner in which we communicate creates the phenomena we communicate about. It can seem obvious, but we are nevertheless seldom aware of the complexity that this constructivist assumption implies. Through an analysis of a new pay reform in the Danish public sector, this article theorizes the complexity in terms of Niklas Luhmann's systems theory. In an attempt to understand the ambiguities of today's management of pay, it identifies four wholly different ‘codes’ of communication; law, money, learning and love. Each of them struggles for the position to construct ‘pay’, ‘personnel’ and ‘management’ differently. Ambiguity is construed in terms of the complex interference that arises between the systems of communication that are coded in these ways. Through this codified complexity, the new pay reform does not merely represent an innocent ‘management technology’, but a productive ‘management policy’ drawing on conflicting codes setting specific distinctions for rewarding, distinct boundaries for managing work life.
“How on earth can it be so difficult to manage a paycheque?” said the manager of an administrative office when I interviewed him. “In this New Pay system there are so many and often conflicting considerations to be aware of.” While this web of considerations makes managing a paycheque a complicated affair, however, it also establishes the very conditions that make management possible. As this article will show,1 complexity offers managers, not just “a difficult tight-rope to walk on,” as the administrator described it, it offers them an opportunity to approach pay as a management issue in the first place; moreover, it functions as a mean to construct management as such. This can be seen very clearly in regard to the new pay scale that has recently been implemented in the Danish public sector. Here pay is discussed in different ways, which makes the decisions more complicated than ever before, and also more complicated than the designers of the new scale ever imagined. This not only shapes widely divergent views of financial compensation, it also constructs a great range of identities for both employees and managers, i.e., a variety of ways of defining their respective functions. Neither pay, personnel nor management are permanent, pre-defined entities on this new approach to remuneration. They are shaped by the particular view of pay that is adopted at a given moment. The many possible ways of thinking about pay opens a plurality of issues, and this constantly threatens to decompose the position from which management can be defined. Management becomes a plural and emergent phenomenon, taking on a variety of forms in the different contexts in which it appears. Drawing on the work of Niklas Luhmann the article construes the rationales behind the formation of pay as codes that shape communication about pay. It thus follows a line that has been suggested by other discourse-based studies of organisation (Alvesson & Deetz, 2000; Alvesson & Karreman, 2000; Calás & Smircich, 1997; Clegg, Hardy, & Nord, 1996; Grant, Keenoy, & Oswick, 1998; McKinlay & Starkey, 1998). The article proceeds from the so-called ‘linguistic turn’ and establishes a discursive constructivist perspective, seeing sociality as a result of communicative construction and insisting that language not just “naively mirrors or innocently re-presents the world but actively creates and powerfully shapes it” (Kornberger, Clegg, & Carter, 2006, p. 13). This perspective challenges the traditional literature on human resource management (Guest, 1999; Sisson & Storey, 2003; Storey (1992) and Storey (1995)), employment relations (Beaumont, 1995; Farnham, 2000; Gennard & Judge, 2002; Madsen, 2002) and pay systems (Akerlof, 1984; Deci, 1975; Frey, 1997; Ibsen, 2002; Willamson, 1996). Adopting a behaviouristic position that focuses on the ‘essential’ behaviour of actors, those perspectives are guided by a normative ambition to discover ways of improving this behaviour by diverse managerial technologies (like skill-based and performance-related pay). By contrast, this article works within a communicative systems-theoretical perspective (Luhmann (1996) and Luhmann (1998)). Rather than seeing management, personnel and pay as essential phenomena, it takes a step back in order to look at the categories themselves, their construction and their position in organisational communication. Rather than forming an immediate normative judgement about the new technology, the article analyses the way the new pay scale emerges and the consequences this has for the communicative construction of management and thereby for the created ideal representations of personnel. The article consists of five sections. Section 1 presents the empirical background; it describes how pay has increasingly become a topic of interest to management research, i.e., how it has gone from being a labour relations issue to being a management issue and how, in doing so, it has become the site of ambiguity. Section 2 presents the theoretical perspective, namely, a systems theoretical framework emphasising functional differentiation and coded communication and Section 3 presents the methodology that guided the empirical work. The analytical results are then presented in Section 4, delineating the four codes that govern communication about pay with the implementation of the new scale. Section 5 offers some concluding remarks about the important relationship between strategic ambiguity and coded communication, and makes an appeal for further research examining the construction of management. 1. Empirical background The Danish pay reform, called ‘New Pay’ (Ny Løn), emerged out of collective bargaining in 1997, and has since been implemented in the public workplaces.2 This implementation has not been easy. New Pay has meant entirely new principles for pay formation and has led to a fundamental shift in the manner of conducting management, in the perspective on employees, and in the organisational operations of the public sector (Ibsen, 2002; Madsen, 2002; Pedersen & Rennison, 2002). The emergence of New Pay can be seen in relation to the general New Public Management reforms of the public sector in Denmark, featuring ‘managerialism’, individual performance and market orientation, which have been taking place since the beginning of the 1980s. National policy reform of this kind integrates personnel and pay policy as means to accomplishing the goals of more ‘professional’, ‘effective’ and ‘flexible’ services. The old system is discarded as a barrier to modernization and the renewal of the public sector and the New Pay reform is intended to bring about significant changes, effecting a transition From detailed rules towards flexible frames, from centralism to decentralization, from solidarity to market-orientation, from standardization to differentiation, from external given conditions to local solutions, from reactive to active careers (Local Government Denmark, 1998, p. 10). The reform implies that the allocation of pay no longer proceeds solely in terms of the administration of centrally negotiated agreements, seniority tables, positional hierarchies, and norms regarding solidarity. On the contrary, decisions regarding pay must be based on the local organisational context, along with individual performance levels, employable skills and personal competences. In principle, New Pay ‘sets pay free’. It moves decisions from the national centres constituted by employers’ associations and unions to the decentralised organisation and its local sites—the kindergarten, the school, the old-age home, the hospital etc.—where it becomes a theme in the organisation's own communication. This is a real change in Denmark: pay becomes something that managers can discuss with their employees, rather than something that is determined elsewhere. This change poses important challenges to the managers, as a director in the technical sector points out: New Wage demands a lot of the local managers. Before, they were just supposed to administer a simple system and they could just refer to the central level ‘in Copenhagen’ or the central personnel office. But now they are expected to take responsibility and to make arguments for the pay that is granted. Earlier it was too easy, now it's quite hard. In the old system, pay was just a brute fact, something to be accepted, not debated at the local level. It was all about administration, not management. But with the new reform pay becomes a communicable topic; something one must take a stand on and decide about in the individual organisation. Pay no longer constitutes a firm, indisputable form—it becomes disputable. Thus, pay becomes relevant in a management study. 1.1. Ambiguous dispute As a disputable object, pay is now communicated in contradictory ways. This can be seen in what employees and managers of public organisations say about the determination of pay under the new reform. They say that we have free pay, and no economic limits, but at the same time they have tied our hands and feet with rules that pre-determine the decision so that we are not able to do anything at all! (Manager of an administrative office). The New Pay reform is meant to motivate us to further education, so that we can be more qualified and thereby get a raise. But it's absurd, because we cannot get the courses we want. And ‘naturally’, the courses must relate to our work, they must have a ‘productive value’, as they say. We can’t learn just for the sake of learning. It is all about money! This new system focuses on our qualifications, and rewards us for more courses taken. But then, why are my formal qualifications not enough!? Why is it not enough that I am good at my job—…why do I have to be committed to the workplace with all of my personality and personal feelings to get my pay cheque…It is never enough—they both want us as professionals and persons! (Employee in a Kindergarten). As seen from these empirical interferences, and as I will show further on in this paper, it is often hard for the people involved to figure out which arguments are at stake. The communication about New Pay confronts and develops multiple and often conflicting values; legal values against economic, economic against educational, educational values against values of personal commitment, and so on. Talk about pay is not based on clarity and consistency, but on ambiguity and contingency, not least because ambiguity plays an important strategic role in construction of management. Management needs confusion and disorder, as Eric Eisenberg pointed out over 20 years ago: Effective leaders see ambiguity strategically to encourage creativity and guard against the acceptance of one standard way of viewing organizational reality…When confronted with difficult decisions, managers must often ‘juggle’ multiple goals. This juggling involves using less than explicit language, being purposefully vague” (Eisenberg, 1984, p. 231). “Clarity,” he notes, “is always risky” (235). Unambiguous formulations and clear criteria reduce the flexibility of decision-making and thereby restrict the power of management. Thus, instead of claiming and encouraging clarity and consensus, he says, we should focus on ambiguity and contingency as preconditions for practising management. But from a research perspective, this focus could also lead us to examine why complexity turns up and how it actually works and unfolds. Here Luhmann's theory of social systems can be of assistance.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In examining New Pay, the main argument of this article is that the ambiguities of pay are the result of interference between codes that condition how we communicate about pay. ‘Interference’, in systems theory, implies the existence of autopoietic systems that code communication in different ways (Luhmann (1977), Luhmann (1996), Luhmann (1998) and Luhmann (2000)). Thus, the most important task in the article has been to characterize the separate codes that are at work in communication about pay. To this end, a sample of communication about New Pay has been produced by interviewing members of public organisations in Denmark. This sample brings evidence of four diverse communicative codes; law, money, learning and love. Each of the codes constructs communication in its own way and fosters sharply contrasting perspectives on personnel and management. Thus, management emerges as a plural phenomenon, taking on different forms such as ‘formal authorisation’, ‘clear-cut economic transaction’, ‘educational supervision at a distance’, or ‘absorbing seduction of integrated selves’. The employees are correspondingly constructed by management as ‘legal objects’, ‘calculating wage earners’, ‘pupils fit for development’ or as ‘passionate partners’. By this codified complexity the New Pay reform does not represent an innocent ‘management technology’, but a productive ‘management policy’ drawing on conflicting codes that establish specific distinctions for rewarding workplace successes, special forms for the exercise of management, and distinct boundaries for being an employee. The communicative process has constitutive consequences, not just for the particular phenomenon (and thereby for what the communication deals with) but also for whom it articulates as relevant or irrelevant, included or excluded. And the criteria of inclusion change all the time. There are no fixed and clear role-descriptions, just changing and contingent expectations set by the complexity of codes. In this complexity of cash and codes, codes are continuously chosen, renewed and replaced, pushing and pulling the communication in different directions. The different codes occur simultaneously and sequentially. These shifting perspectives can result in disruptions, rendering situations unclear for the participants. Disorder and unpredictability permeates the communication we can observe. ‘Just when we thought that this is what it is all about…’ communication about pay invokes another code. There is a persistent multiplicity of meaning-creating differences. As this article has shown, the new complexity of pay-roll management is constructed by the differentiated communication it employs. Decisions in modern organisations are inevitably made by dealing with differences between codes and continuously managing the tension between them. The strategic management of ambiguity that Eisenberg (1984) describes can thus be understood as management of the interference that arises by bringing the diverse codes together. The challenge of management is to use coded complexity as a strategic resource for the realisation of management objectives—for fostering flexibility, creativity and opportunities for change. Management studies can be of assistance here by shedding more light on the conditions under which management constitutes management itself.