Accueil » 41-2 ( 1986) » L'informatique, ses "filtres" et ses effets

L'informatique, ses "filtres" et ses effets

Jean Mercier


Même si on peut soutenir que la technologie informatique, à long terme, incitera les organisations productrices de biens et de services à adopter des formules de gestion plus souples et plus décentralisées, certains facteurs individuels, organisationnels et culturels inhibent, à court terme, ces tendances


The trend towards the computerization of organizational processes raises once more the question of the importance of the technological variable in understanding organizations. The present article suggests that while the technology variable has a determining effect on organizational life in the long run, in the short term these effects are inhibited by individual, organizational and cultural factors. In the long run, present computer technology suggests that organizations will be more flexible, less standardized and that they will require more involvement from personnel. In an information rich environment, organic forms of management (Burns and Stalker) and networks (Donald Schon) will replace mechanical and bureaucratic styles of management. These long term trends seem to raise questions about the future of middle management and labor unions. The traditional role of transmitting orders downward and information upward, inherent in middle management, will be superseded by management information Systems. As the organizational pyramid will flatten, individual middle managers will either be promoted or demoted. In expanding organizations, middle managers will have better chances of being promoted than demoted. In the case of labour unions, a renewed importance of employee involvement and participation and a decreased importance of standardized categories of workers will combine to weaken the relevance of collective bargaining.

However these are long term trends. In the short run, individual, organizational and cultural factors will prevent these long term trends to have their full impact. On an individual level, persons who enjoy routine and repetitive work might be unconfortable with future technological trends that will require a fuller understanding of organizational data. On an organizational level, the shortcomings of computer specialists will prevent organizations form benefiting fully from technological possibilities. On a cultural level, cultures that have traditionally stressed centralization and standardization will experience difficulties in adapting to the more flexible management processes required by more sophisticated technologies.