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THE ROLE OF PROFESSIONAL CONTROL IN THE MANAGEMENT OF COMPLEX ORGANIZATIONS*

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  • Hb Economic Theory
Disciplines
  • Design
  • Education

Abstract

The limitations of formal administrative controls in organizations performing complex production tasks have created the need for less obtrusive forms of management control. When formal administrative controls cannot cater to the unpredictability of complex work demands, one strategy is to employ “professionals” who have been trained to cope with these demands and whose behaviour is primarily controlled through social and self-control mechanisms. There is some question, however, as to the effectiveness of this strategy. There is evidence that integrating pmfessionals into bureaucratic organizations creates the potential for a “clash of cultures”. Conflict emerges when salaried professionals engage in behaviour directed towards increasing their own autonomy (or in some cases maintaining it) and management implement control systems designed to control that bebaviour. This paper argues that the degree of conflict experienced will depend on the individual role orientation of the professional and the extent to which management confront professionals with bureaucratic administrative systems which restricf their self-regulatory activities. The study was undertaken in a large public teaching hospital in Australia and the results support the theoretical position taken in the paper.

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