The Return of the Machine Bureaucracy? Management control and Knowledge Work

Dan Kärreman, Stefan Sveningsson, Mats Alvesson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Knowledge-intensive firms are frequently believed to operate under conditions that invalidate industrial-bureaucratic forms of managerial control. The nature of work, the professionalism of the workers makes traditional organizational structures and managerial techniques archaic and inefficient. However, empirical material from recent studies in two major knowledge-intensive firms indicates that traditional managerial forms of control have maintained and even reclaimed a seemingly vital space in organizational practice. The two cases belong to different branches, thus possibly prefiguring an emergent trend toward the industrialization of at least parts of knowledge work, involving standardization of tasks and methods of working, reinforcing the exchangeability of individuals and units, and increased efforts to manage by numbers and other criteria from the past.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Studies of Management and Organization
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)70-92
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

Cite this