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Notes on lecture Organized Anarchy By professor Daniel McFarland

In his class, he simulates the Milwaukee exercise


In the simulations, strange things happen to his students
Students discover many anomalous behaviors Some of them have hard times defining their platform's identity Some of them change their proposals radically More dynamic, decisions changed after meetings, etc.

All the strange things that happen in the exercise are the core of organized anarchies
Ambiguity in decision making o Technologies and tasks are uncertain o Preference change o Ideas, people are mixed together o Decisions have loose relevance o Problems are not connected to solutions o Decisions are inconsistent Decisions move from conceptions of order to conceptions of meaning o Order Reality Causality Intentionality o Meaning Decisions are vehicles for constructing meaningful interpretations They are NOT outcomes produced by a comprehensible environment The decisions become MEANING generators, instead of consequence generators

Metaphor used in his class to think about the organization (Authors: Cohen, March and Olsen (1972))
Round, Sloped Soccer field Many different people can join the game (but not everyone) Everyone kicks in the direction of their own interests The slope of the field produces a bias The course of a specific decision (kick) is not easily anticipated, although can look rather obvious after the fact (and usually normative reassuring)

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Notes on lecture Organized Anarchy By professor Daniel McFarland

Definition of organizations from the perspective of Organized Anarchy


The organization is viewed as a collection of choices looking for problems. Hence, the choice of opportunity (or meeting with decisions) can be viewed as a garbage can where various kinds of problems and solutions are dumped
Issues and feelings looking for decision situations in which they might be aired Solutions looking for issues to which they might be the answer Decision makers looking for work Ill defined goals, problematic preferences, inconsistent identities Unclear technology Fluid participation Independent streams of solutions, problems, participants and choice arenas The decisions are made by attaching solutions to the problems Outcomes of choice arenas o Either no decision is made o ... Or solutions do not resolve problems Oversight: people make choices before problems reach it Flight: People wait for the problem to go away, then pick a solution o OR ... Problem resolved: good choice made Problems (things perceived as problems) Solutions (Kindon's "policies") Participants (Kindon's "politics") Flows (streams of trash going to each garbage can) - There are different structures for those flows o Unrestricted / democratic o Hierarchical: Important actors, problems or solutions are given priority o Specialized: Specialized actors have access to specialized problems and solutions

Characteristics of an organized anarchy

Elements of the Organized Anarchy


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Notes on lecture Organized Anarchy By professor Daniel McFarland

Choice Opportunity = policy window - TIMING is very important. It guides Choice Opportunity o Decisions happen when problems, solutions, participants and choices coincide o Timing is right: Participants happen to have the time and energy to see them through o Solutions are attached to problems Deadlines o Arrival times (affect problems) o Seasons (affect solutions) o Work days, school years (affect participants) o Budget schedules (affect choice opportunities) Decisions arise from the interaction of o Constraints o Time-dependent flows of problems o Solutions o Participants (decision-makers)

Constraints on deciding in the Organized Anarchy

Example: Faculty meeting as choice arena

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Notes on lecture Organized Anarchy By professor Daniel McFarland

Management styles that can be used


Be a reformer
Eliminate garbage can elements from decisions Centralize Specialize Discover new vision, decision making Choice Opportunities are viewed as meaning making opportunities Be opportunistic Further one's agenda

Be an enthusiast

Be a Pragmatist

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