The purpose of this paper is to illustrate one way that organizations may maintain the relationships among professionalism, rule usage and mechanization at multiple levels of analysis. In this regard, the work of several authors, such as March and Sim ...
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate one way that organizations may maintain the relationships among professionalism, rule usage and mechanization at multiple levels of analysis. In this regard, the work of several authors, such as March and Simon (1958), Rusaw (1995), and Benveniste (1987) is helpful. They suggest that less routinized jobs involve discretion and that one would expect individuals in such jobs to rely on their professional training. In contrast, individuals in more routinized jobs should be more likely to rely on rule usage, because rules work well when tasks are predictable, unvaried, and well understood.
This suggests one way that organizations may deal with more or less professional individuals is to assign them to different jobs. For example, organizations may assign members with a doctoral degree to the more professional work and allow them to maintain the authority over their professional work; whereas organizations may assign nonprofessionals to the more routinized work and not allow them to control this work directly. This is largely an individual-level view.
In small organizations, it may be possible to assign special tasks to different and specialized professionals. However, as an organization？s size increases, it may become difficult to assign different jobs to different professionals. Therefore, a mainly individual difference approach fails to take into account the ways in which jobs and individuals are organized into supervisory work groups, which in turn are organized into departments or collectives. As Gouldner (1954) long ago pointed out, rules enable a supervisor to show that he or she is not using supervision on his or her behalf, but is merely translating demands that apply equally to all. One way to enhance a supervisor？s ability to treat all subordinates equally is to assign professionals to a different set of supervisors than those to whom nonprofessionals are assigned (e.g., Benveniste, 1987; Montagna, 1968; Scott, 1992).
Gouldner's (1954) view, however, implies that supervisors go beyond the group level and interpersonal relationships and rely on larger units of analysis (e.g., organizational or institutional level, see Bozeman & Rainey, 1998). Katz and Kahn (1978) suggest that organizations may create subsystems (departmentalization) in terms of their functions to the organization itself and society. Here the focus is on production, maintenance, support, and adaptive systems. One advantage of organizing collectives in this way is that supervisors can justify the demands they make of subordinates in terms of their function to society (see e.g., Courpasson, 2000). In this way both sets of individuals provide a function to society but differentially depending on the subsystem within which they embed. This functional perspective is similar to Wallace's (1995) adaptation thesis - i.e., most professionals in nonprofessional organizations work in departments that are clearly separate from the employing firm's hierarchical structure (P. 230); and these professionals have discretion and control over their professional works (see also Ibarra, 1999). From these perspectives, we hypothesized that the relationships among professionalism, rule usage and mechanization are expected to hold at the collective, work group, and individual levels of analysis, i.e., a three-level or multi-level effect.
The results showed negative relationships among the two measures of professionalism and the measures of rule usage and machine determination, as predicted in this study. The correlations at the individual level reduce to non-significant ones when the differences between groups are held constant. . Likewise, the significant group-level correlations reduce to non-significant ones when the differences between collectives are held constant.