The rise of post-bureaucracy: Theorists' fancy or organizational praxis?

Phil Johnson, Geoffrey Wood, Chris Brewster, Michael Brookes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Theories of post-bureaucracy point to a breakdown of traditional modes of managerial authority in the face of a range of pressures commonly associated with globalization and technological advance. This may make for a proliferation of alternative practices and/or allow for a genuine sharing of power in the workplace, associated with higher levels of responsible autonomy. Based on the findings of a series of transnational surveys, this article confirms a tendency, over time, for organizations to make greater use of mechanisms to promote responsible autonomy, in a wide range of national contexts. This would seemingly support a central proposition of theories of post-bureaucracy: a tendency for organizations to delegate more power to employees over time, reflecting the breakdown of traditional bureaucratically ordered power relations. At the same time, however, the research highlighted an uneven and contested process of change, reflecting both the persistent effects of national, regional and sectoral modes of regulation, and the non-linear and episodic nature of organizational change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-61
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Bureaucracy
  • Organizational change
  • Post-bureaucracy
  • Responsible autonomy
  • Varieties of capitalism


Dive into the research topics of 'The rise of post-bureaucracy: Theorists' fancy or organizational praxis?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this