Local Control in Organizations: Implications for the Paradigm

By William G. OuchiAlan L. Wilkins
1978| Working Paper No. 453

Studies of organizational control currently reflect a paradigm which contains the assumption that mechanisms of control are homogeneously distributed throughout the subunits of a whole company or other organization. This paper presents the argument that control in organizations is instead adapted to local micro-environments, thus creating a patchwork of control mechanisms which may be incompatible within one organization. Present methods of studying control in organizations rarely reveal this intra-organizational variation in control. An illustrative test employing a nested or hierarchical analysis of variance and intra-class correlations demonstrates that, for the particular organizations and variables studied, control mechanisms vary greatly within the company. This view of locally adaptive or loosely coupled control in organizations may have implications for the more general paradigm which underlies research on organizations.