The difference between ordinary reality and socially constructed reality is that in ordinary reality we presume objects, for example, exist independently of our thoughts whereas socially constructed reality are products of our thoughts, feelings and perceptions which are influenced by economic, political and social influences that we use. The social construction side of things is in contrast with the modernist view of objective reality however this does not mean that reality which is ‘socially constructed’ is not real as beliefs can affect behaviour just as much as objective facts. There is also symbolic interactionism. An example of this is young people associating smoking with being cool which then projects a positive image to peers and a positive self-esteem making smoking a symbolic meaning which is then affecting our behaviours. The meanings that are created come from interactions we share with other people and then the meanings are then modified through an interpretive process where we instantly create meaning and check our meanings with others. Overall symbolic interpretivist understands organisations to be like a community and creating meanings through symbols which capture our own personal understanding of reality through shared norms.
Postmodernism is the period of time that came after modernism. Postmodernism is seen as a philosophical perceptive as it is a way of seeing the world. As we already have established modernism is driven by utopian social and political agendas which ideal visions of human life and the rest of society which the belief that order can be imposed through human will and intellect. Also, that modernist manifest in organisation theory via commitment to rationalism, systems and science (Taylorism). Modernist also believe in a positivist epistemology and realists ontology. Postmodernism is different from modernism in various of ways. Postmodernism developed during the later 20th century and marked a departure from modernism. Postmodernists are very sceptical towards grand narratives and ideologies such as the enlightenment rationality. Postmodernism also rejects the idea of objective reality and absolute truth. Postmodernists in comparison to modernists take a relativist ontological perspective and an interpretivist epistemological perspective. Postmodernism believe that truth and knowledge are the product of particular systems of discourse which are context specific. Postmodernism is concerned more with meaning and subjectivity as well as power and underlines that our interpretations of everyday life depends on our attitude and experiences which is similar to what the symbolic interpretivist perspective.
In terms of the economic sphere postmodernism focuses more on maximisation and productivity as well as the rise of computers and automation. They believe in the development of transnational business enterprise and flight of production to underdeveloped parts of the world leading to a new division of labour internationally. Postmodernism also is linked to changes in production and focuses again on the superficiality and contingency. Postmodernism consists of post industrialism, post Fordism and post-bureaucracy
Postmodern organisation theory is to criticise and destabilise managerial ideologies. Postmodernists organisation theory understand that organisations might be characterised by conflict, not consensus, as others would say, and seek to expose and deconstruct power relations. They use theoretical perspectives derived from post-structuralism and deconstruction, and examine how language exerts power. Understand that organisation is real but adopt interpretivist, subjectivist and qualitative methods which are different from modernist. The purpose of postmodern organisation theory is to not search for grand theories and metanarratives but instead to have a mere focus on gaining and understanding of the situation at a particular point of time and also understanding that there are a number possible different understandings.
Having described the different paradigms within organisation theory, I shall now turn to whether these are competing or complementary paradigms. The three paradigms can be compared and contrasted to determine to what extent they are either complementary of each other or competing by using their perspective of what defines reality, what knowledge is, their ontological and epistemological foundations, their model for human relationships and so on. Modernist believe that reality is a pre-existing unity and that reality is recognised by convergence. Whereas Symbolic interpretivist believe that reality is rather socially constructed and recognised as coherence rather than convergence. Postmodernist believe that reality is a constantly shifting and fluid plurality which is recognised by incoherence fragmentation. Modernist believe knowledge to be universal whereas symbolic believe it to be particular and postmodernism say it to be provisional which is developed through denial deconstruction. The model for human relationships from a modernist perspective is based on hierarchy as was established with Taylorism. Symbolic interpretivists deem it to be more about community and unity and postmodernism believe it’s more to do with individual independence and self-determination.
Modernists and postmodernism are competing to a further extent. Modernist perspective believes in the grand theory which are a combination of theories and explanations such as science and culture which represent almost every knowledge and explains everything. However, postmodernism reject the theories and believe if flexibility where change occurs and the development of technology. The modernism perspective in comparison to the Postmodern perspective is more objective, theoretical and analytical whereas postmodern is purely subjective. Modernist also believe that there is an abstract truth of life at attempt to construct a coherent world view whereas postmodernism believe in no universal truth and attempt to remove the difference between high and low.