Role Complexity and Task Complexity

Layers of complexity

What Jaques postulates, as we have seen, is the existence of a universal bureaucratic depth structure, composed of organizational strata with boundaries at levels of work represented by time spans of three months to 20 years. These strata are real in the geological sense, with observable boundaries and discontinuity. They are not mere shadings and gradations. Requisite organization of bureaucracy must be designed accordingly. In other words, strata of organization need to be built up that are “requisite” for the complexity of the task at hand. The complexity of a task lies in the number, variety, rate of change, and degree of interweaving of the variables involved in it.

Jaques identifies seven such levels, or strata, of organization, drawn from a combination of categories of inner and outer complexity, of the first and second order. Whereas first-order complexity – that is, the concrete world – stands prior to organization, the fourth order – universal world – for Jaques, lies beyond it. The work of a single craftsman, on the one hand, and of an individual “guru,” on the other, lies outside the realms of Jaques's organization.

Strata of organization

Second-order complexity

(1) Stratum 1: Direct action (B1): These are shop-floor – or office-level – activities, requiring a person to proceed along a prescribed linear path, getting continual feedback in order to do so, for example drilling holes with a hack hammer, or typing ...

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