Burrell and Morgan's Meta-Framework
The time is ripe for the practice of an unprecedented kind of administrative science sensitive to the diverse issues of human life and able to deal with them in a variety of settings where they appropriately belong, and of which the formal economizing organization is a case limit.
-- A. G. Ramos ( 1981, p. 74)
In chapters 5 through 8 you encountered a number of analytic frameworks that you have seen explained and illustrated. They may appear to represent a very broad range of theoretical models -- and in a sense they do, portraying a variety of social science disciplines -- but in another, broader sense, they depict only a narrow band of conceptual possibilities. It seems fair to say that they all fall within what Burrell and Morgan ( 1979) referred to as the "functionalist" paradigm, perhaps stretched in some instances to include aspects of the interpretive paradigm. In the course of their discussion of the functionalist paradigm, Burrell and Morgan ( 1979) suggested that "the orthodox approach to the study of organisations 'tends to adopt theories and models of organisational functioning...that are highly oriented towards managerial conceptions of organisations, managerial priorities and problems, and managerial concerns for practical outcomes'" (p. 118).
Burrell and Morgan might have argued that, employing only these conceptual frameworks as lenses through which to view our organizations, we would be very much in the position of the blind men and the elephant. They might have argued that this would be true even if we used all of these various conceptual frameworks -- bureaucratic systems, social systems, political systems, leadership systems, and other analytic frames -- because, from larger philosophical and ideological perspectives, they all represent basically orthodox perspectives for viewing organizations.