Postmodern Organizations (2)

Articles / Social Psychology

The modern era gave way to postmodernity, and the symbolic order that it once governed has given way to a different order, one sustained by new logic; and this also affects organizations. The structures are no longer stable because roles and work teams are constantly changing. It is commonly believed that with change comes progress and, without it, stagnation and decrease. Employment contracts used in traditional organizations used to place, on the one hand, a price on effort and, on the other, included a "psychological factor", rewarding loyalty. In the modern era, organizations employee trained and ready to work youths. There were hardly any changes, one joined an organisation and it could be they spent the next forty years working in a place knowing that there would be, from the beginning, a constant and progressive career path. Today, organizations often receive disoriented young people, who do not fully understand what is expected of them. And companies respond by creating universities to ensure their training fit their processes and systems, which are in constant development.

At present, an organization’s framework is based on a triad that could be considered this new symbolic order that governs professional lives. The psychological, ideological and iconic merge into a powerful image where the brand is the synthesis of this new paradigm. Enjoying work becomes an imposition for the "employee". The background to all this is a significant hypomanic state where the employee is in permanent state of hyperactivity and growth, all undertaken with an energy that requires him to feel he is always contributing, creating and "leaving his comfort zone". There are no limits: "Just do it".

How do you find your place in these hyper-modern organizations? If the symbolic is no longer what it used to be, if many of the jobs that exist today are going to disappear due to the automation of processes, is there a future? In the 1970’s, the sociologist H. Marcuse believed that industrial advances would create a free society where poverty would be eradicated, giving way to a happy convergence between work and leisure.

Today, the management guru J.Kotter, a renowned expert in Leadership takes a more pragmatic vision to teach organizations to live in change. But, S Bauman raised his voice denouncing a world with less and less work. Meanwhile, the trend that proposes to solve the unstoppable advance of Artificial Intelligence is emerging as more feasible - a universal basic income. Those who are unable to work are remunerated.  However, views to the contrary believe that AI will create more jobs than the number it will eradicate; many conjectures and different opinions that move between utopia and dystopia. The only certainty is that we are experiencing transformations that move faster than we can assimilate. Let's define then what is happening through the visible heads of postmodernity to start to draw conclusions.