Governing the Ungovernable: Ugly Organizational Conflicts, Lack of Leadership, Complexity, Disaggregating of Authority…

Ungovernable is a concept that describes conditions when– organizations, companies, governments… have such critical insufficiencies that it put them at risk for major crisis, chaos, gridlock…

Ungovernable is defined in many ways, for example; incapable of being controlled, incapable of being governed or restrained, uncontrollable, out of control, unmanageable, not governable, not capable of being governed…

The condition known as ungovernable results from organizations allowing or neglecting the rise of problems and conflicts that later turn out to be very difficult to resolve in an orderly and routine way… The question of whether or when an organization becomes ungovernable involves a normative component: A component that serves to define border or tipping-point between ‘adequate/tolerable’  and ‘insufficient’ levels of the ‘capacity’ of an organizational system to govern.

Typically, location of this border seems to be rather uncontroversial, for example; if organization, company, government… is chronically paralyzed in its ability to– make-enforce rules, provide basic services, resolve major conflicts… through adequate institutional means, then most people– including institution actors themselves– will most likely agree that a condition of ‘defective institution capacity’ is present, and that can only be healed through major organizational reform or other drastic measures…

In the phrase ‘governing the ungovernable’– the word ‘govern’ is just another word for  ‘control’ but, like it or not, organizations must be governed (i.e., controlled) in order to meet the needs of their constituency…

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In the article Simplicity-Minded Management by Ron Ashkenas writes: Big organizations are by nature complex and over the years they have encounter new and very difficult business challenges, for example; globalization, innovative technologies, regulations… just to name a few. These developments have conspired to add layer-upon-layer of complexity to the corporate structure, such that many of the leadership in these organizational is becoming dysfunctional…

As a result, the organizations are increasingly ungovernable and unwieldy; performance declines, accountability is unclear, decision rights are muddy… data are crunched repeatedly often with no clear purpose in mind… To avoid frustration and inefficiency, executives must systematically attack the causes of complexity in their companies…  Firms must develop simplicity-minded strategies: Streamline the structure; remove unnecessary management layers, prune products and services; build disciplined processes; improve managerial habits…

In the article World is Becoming More Ungovernable  by Adrian Monck writes: Global corporations are replacing the role of governments; corporations are answering the younger generations’ call for individuality… Speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, Shimon Peres; said the world is becoming ungovernable; governments have found themselves unemployed because the economy has become global while governments remain national… global companies are replacing the role of governments.

The top forty global companies have more fortune-wealth than all the governments in the world, and these global corporations are answering the expectation of individuality, which defines the younger generations. Young people are not satisfied by the attempt to be equal; they are only satisfied by the attempt to be different. According to Peres; these same global companies are reducing racism; you cannot be global and racist…

Some of the main discussions at the Forum focused on three themes that will define the next generation: First, national governments– because they cannot run economies or companies, will be relegated to simple husbandry of the state. Second, there will be continuing empowerment of global corporations– they will handle global investment and innovation. Third, deeper understanding of the human mind will help people to make better decisions… According to Peres; I never lost anything by believing or by hoping… It’s better to create hope than to suggest hopelessness…

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In the article Global Survey: Who Do You Believe In Any More? by Sanjay Suri writes: In several global public opinion surveys it’s showing that people are losing faith in business government, even non-governmental organizations… Based on interviews with more than 20,000 people in 20 countries, one survey suggests– ‘an alarming picture of declining levels of trust’… According to Mark Adams; what the survey shows is people losing faith in a whole range of institutions, and this is very worrying for the world community…

The survey shows that ‘trust’– in a range of institutions– has dropped significantly to levels not seen since the months following Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the cement that holds world institutions together is coming adrift. According to Mark Adams; the loss of faith could partly be a consequence of globalization… In the world of 30-40 years, people relied on governments and companies to do everything…

But it’s now a more complicated and dangerous world out there… Governments, companies…  are themselves struggling to come to terms with a new world order, which suggests that these are no longer the firm edifices people had come to lean on in earlier times. In fact, this is a wake-up call: If institutions don’t regain ‘trust’ of people, the world will become ungovernable. People feel ‘rightly or wrongly’ that systems are not delivering… Among the highlights of the report:

  • Public trust in national governments, UN, global companies… is now at its lowest level since tracking began in January 2001.
  • Trust in government has declined by statistically significant margins in 12 of the 16 countries for which tracking data is available.
  • UN, while continuing to receive higher trust levels than other institutions, has experienced a significant decline in trust in 12 of the 17 countries for which tracking data is available…
  • Public trust in companies has eroded and declined for both large national companies, global companies… Trust in global companies is now at its lowest level since tracking began.

In  the article Land Of The Free Is Starting To Look Ungovernable by The Economist writes: When you are brawling on the edge of a cliff, the big question is not ‘who’ is right? But, what the hell are you doing on edge of a cliff? The U.S. needs to tackle polarization. The problem is especially acute in the House of Representations, because many states let politicians draw their own electoral maps. Unsurprisingly, they tend to draw ultra-safe districts for themselves.

This means that a typical congressman has no fear of losing a general election but is terrified of primary challenge. Many therefore pander to extremists on their own side rather than forging sensible centrist deals with the other: This is no way to run a country. Electoral reforms, such as letting independent commissions draw district boundaries, would not suddenly make the U.S. governable, but it would help. It’s time for less cliff-hanging, and more common sense…

According to Peter Wehner; we have heard the U.S. is ungovernable mantra before. In the fall of 1980, Lloyd Cutler, President Jimmy Carter’s counsel, wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine: one might say that under the U.S. Constitution it’s not now feasible to ‘form a government.’ The separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches, whatever its merits in 1793, has become a structure that almost guarantees stalemate today. The problem then, as now, was not with our system of government but with a weak chief executive…

According to John Rubino; politics has become irrelevant… not uninteresting and unimportant; but obviously the way a society organizes itself and solves problems– matters to its citizens and its place in the world…

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In the article Organization Conflict – Good, Bad & Ugly by Robert Bacal writes: Conflict that occurs in organizations need not be destructive, provided the energy associated with conflict is harnessed and directed towards problem-solving and improvement. However, managing conflict effectively requires that all parties understand the nature of conflict…

There are two ways of looking at organization conflict. Each of these ways is linked to a different set of assumptions about the purpose and function of an organization… The dysfunctional view of organization conflict is imbedded in notion that organizations are created to achieve goals by creating structures that perfectly define responsibilities, authorities, and other job functions. Like a clockwork watch, each ‘cog’ knows where it fits, knows what it must do and knows how it relates to other parts. This traditional view of organization– values orderliness, stability, repression of conflict that occurs…

However, virtually all organizations work within a very disorderly context–one characterized by constant change and a need for constant adaptation. Trying to ‘structure away’ conflict and disagreement in a dynamic environment requires tremendous amounts of energy, which will also suppress any positive outcomes that may come from disagreement, such as improved decision-making and innovation…

The functional view of organization conflict sees conflict as productive force, one that can stimulate members of the organization to increase their knowledge, skills… and their contribution to organization innovation and productivity. Unlike the traditional position, this more modern approach considers that the keys to organization success lie not in structure, clarity and orderliness… but in creativity, responsiveness and adaptability.

The successful organization, then, ‘needs’ conflict so that diverging views can be put on the table, and new ways of doing things can be created… So, the task is to manage conflict, and avoid what we call ‘the ugly’… where conflict is allowed to eat away at team cohesiveness and productivity… We have the ‘good’ (conflict is positive), the ‘bad’ (conflict is to be avoided), and the ‘ugly’. Ugly occurs where the leadership (and perhaps employees) attempt to eliminate or suppress conflict in situations where it is impossible to do so.

You know you have ‘ugly’ in your organization– when many conflicts run for years;  when people have given up on resolving and addressing conflict problems; when there is a good deal of private bitching and complaining but little attempt to fix the problem; when staff show little interest in working to common goals, but spend more time and energy on protecting themselves… When we get ‘ugly’ occurring in organizations, there is a tendency to look to leadership as being responsible for the mess, but it’s also true that the avoidance of ugliness must be a shared responsibility.

Leadership and employees must work together in a cooperative way to reduce the ugliness, and increase the likelihood that conflict can be channeled into an effective force for change… The notion that conflict should be avoided is one of the major contributors to the growth of destructive conflict in organizations…

Conflict can be directed and managed so that it causes both people and organizations to grow, innovate, improve… However, this requires that conflict not be repressed, since attempts to repress are more likely to generate very ugly situations; that’s when these situations become– governing the ungovernable…