Critical theory is about communication, the core concepts in relation to organizational structure, attempt to improve organizational settings by leveling the domineering forces of upper management and owners to level to workers and improve the work environment for better production. Critical theorists attempt to educate about the ways in which organizational structures become so unjust. They are interested in the exercise of power in all forms and at all levels, and the way in which power manifests itself completely. Critical theorists help us understand that certain patterns of behavior develop within organized settings.
These ideologies create deep structures within organizations leading to a confusion of what is moral, acceptable or normal. Four different functions of ideology help us understand critical theory in the organizational setting, the first is that the representation of sectional interests as universal. Thus meaning that the management of a particular group controls what important interests are dealt with, the management deems these actions to be in the best interest of everyone, even if this is not the case (Modaff, Butler, and DeWine, 116).
The second function is that there is a denial or transmutation of contradictions, meaning that some members of the organization give up their right to vote, meaning that only a group of a few people determine decisions that affect everyone (Modaff, Butler, and DeWine, 116). The third function is the naturalization of the present through reification, meaning that reality ceases to exist. In other words, certain socially constructed groups, such as an all male management team, or a management team of individuals all over forty become objective or unchangeable.
This socially unchangeable rule benefits those decision makers located at the top of the hierarchy (Modaff, Butler, and DeWine, 116). Finally, the fourth function is ideology as a means of control, meaning that the workers are working to actively support the interests over the dominant group (Modaff, Butler, and DeWine, 117). Workers often unknowingly follow the instructions of their management team, thus leading to the idea of hegemony, where the workers become oppressed but maintaining the company’s ideologies.
If we know that critical theorists have proven these ideologies to be true in various organizations, then it is easy to see and conclude why certain organizations have developed very strong hierarchical cultures. The dominant groups make decisions that will suite themselves rather than the whole company. For example, a new computer software is being implemented in an organization, the dominant group will simply choose the software that they are likely to be familiar with.
If this means that several workers are to be replaced or completely eliminated, that doesn’t matter to the dominant group, as they are the group that chooses the “best” interests for the company. Workers will assume that those in charge have their best interests at heart, and will be likely to understand if some workers are laid off or will be replaced to other more qualified candidates. The oppression of the workers allows for hierarchical systems to be maintained and thrive.
Hierarchal power is often constructed on those who we associate with rather than those who are often more qualified for jobs. Most people can tell stories of people whom they have associated with who receive jobs based on social connections, rather than qualifications. Yet when these individuals enter the organization they highly qualified according to their dominant peers. These are both significant points of power that are not written down that those “on top” have access to over the subdominant group.
The basic idea is that firms are organized in a hierarchic model because it reflects the values of capitalism, competition, and inequality. In other words, those who control organizations do so largely for the purposes of gaining more wealth, power for themselves and gaining wealth and power for those on the very top of the chain.
Modaff, Daniel P. , Jennifer A. Butler, and Sue DeWine . Organizational Communication:Foundations,Challenges, and Misunderstandings. 03. 1. Glenview,IL: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.