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The Four-Frame Model By Bolman & Deal

Reframing Organizations

Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal

Lenses focus, filter some things and allow others to pass through, help us order experience.

Tools strengths and limitations. Wrong tool gets in the way; right tool makes the job easier.

Possess a tool but know how to use it well.

Structural Frame
From sociology and management science. Emphasizes goals, specialized roles, and formal relationships. Structures (Organization charts) fit organizations environment and technology. Responsibilities, rules, policies, procedures.

Structural Frame
Problems arise when the structure does not fit the situation.

Human Resource Frame

From psychology. Organization as an extended family. Individuals with needs, feelings, prejudices, skills, and limitations. Capacity to learnand capacity to defend old attitudes and belief.

Human Resource Frame

Challenge is to tailor organizations to peoplefind a way for individuals to get the job done while feeling good about what they are doing.

Political Frame
Rooted in political science. Organizations as arenas, contests, or jungles. Different interests competing for power and resources. Rampant conflict differences in needs, perspectives, and lifestyles. Bargaining, negotiation, coercion, compromise, coalitions.

Political Resource Frame

Problems arise when power is concentrated in the wrong places or is too broadly dispersed. Solutions: political skill.

Symbolic Frame
Draws from social and cultural anthropology. Organizations as tribes, theaters, or carnivals. Culturerituals, ceremonies, stories, heroes, and myths. Organization is theater actors play role while audiences form impressions.

Symbolic Frame
Problems arise when actors play their parts badly, when symbols lose their meaning, when ceremonies and rituals lose their potency.

Rebuild the expressive or spiritual side of organization through the use of symbol, myth, and magic.

Overview of the Four-Frame Model

Frame Structural Metaphor for Organization Central Concepts Factory or Machine Rules, roles, goals, policies, technology, environment Social architecture Attune structure to task, technology, environment Excellence Authorship Human Resource Family Political Jungle Symbolic Carnival, temple, theater Culture, meaning, metaphor, ritual, ceremony, stories, heroes Inspiration Create faith, beauty, meaning

Needs, skills, relationships

Power, conflict, competition, organizational politics Advocacy Develop agenda and power base

Image of Leadership Basic Leadership Challenge Organization al Ethic Leadership Contribution

Empowerment Align organizational and human needs Caring Love

Justice Power

Faith Significance

Source: Bolman & Deal (1997), p. 15 & p. 344

Choosing a Frame
Question Are individual commitment and motivation essential to success? Is the technical quality of the decision important? Frame if answer is Yes Frame if answer is No

Human Resource, Symbolic Structural, Political


Human Resource, Political, Symbolic Structural, Human Resource Structural, Human Resource Structural, Human Resource, Symbolic
Source: Bolman & Deal (1997), p. 271

Are there high levels of Political, Symbolic ambiguity and uncertainty? Are conflict and scarce resources significant? Are you working from the bottom up? Political, Symbolic Political

Reframing Leadership
Frame Structural Effective Leader Effective Leadership Process Ineffective Leader Ineffective Leadership Process Analyst, architect Analysis, design Petty tyrant Management by detail and fiat Human Resources Catalyst, servant Support, empowerment Weakling, pushover Abdication Political Advocate, negotiator Advocacy, coalition building Con artist, thug Manipulation, fraud Symbolic Prophet, poet Inspiration, framing experience Fanatic, fool Mirage, smoke & mirrors

Source: Bolman & Deal (1997), p. 303

Reframing Change
Frame Structural Barriers to Change Loss of clarity and stability, confusion, chaos Communicating, realigning and renegotiating formal patterns and policies Human Resources Anxiety, uncertainty, feelings of incompetence, neediness Training to develop new skills, participation and involvement, psychological support Political Disempowerment, conflict between winners and losers Creating arenas where issues can be renegotiated and new coalitions formed Symbolic Loss of meaning and purpose, clinging to the past Creating transition rituals: mourning the past, celebrating the future

Essential Strategies

Source: Bolman & Deal (1997), p. 321

How do you see the four frames in your school and/or work environment?