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Productive Patterns
Patrik Schumacher 1997
Published In: architect's bulletin, Operativity, Volume 135 - 136, Slovenia and in: architect's bulletin, Volume 137 - 138, Slovenia German: Produktive Ordnungen
Published In: ARCH+ 136, Your Office Is Where You Are, Berlin
Productive Patterns - Part 4


6. Specifications for the new organization and political consequences
What might present itself here in the form of a conclusion can not be plucked from the geneological tree upon which it grows. Even the mechanistic paradigm still leaves heavy traces and should not be considered exorcized. Theoretically: The history of the concept of 'organization' remains the complication of its origin. Practically: Although management rhetoric runs rampant and corporate restructuring is gathering pace, the bureaucratic mode of organization is far from extinct. It remains an entrenched reality.
My overview over the development of management discourse does not go beyond the mid-seventies. Although the explosion of "revolutionary" management literature comes later, no further significant theoretical advance has been made. The most important slogans are listed below. All the following features - contradictions are endemic and no attempt is made here to systematize - have become real agendas in today's business re-organization:

a) internal:
- flattening of hierarchies
- decentralization of operations
- devolution of authority
- collegial rather than command style of communication
- dispersal of creative intelligence throughout the corporation
- fragmentation into autonomous profit-centres
- group work, team-work and shared responsibility
- participatory structures tapping the knowledge and creative intelligence of all employees
- liberation of communication through information systems that allow communication to flow in all directions (even if communication in person is still confined to the scalar chain)
- departmentalization is replaced or overdetermined by project-organization
- short contracts increase mutual independence even within a formal employment relation
- hybrid conglomerats rather than functionally integrated corporations
b) internal/external:
- the blurring of the internal-external dichotomy
- employees become self-employed
- outsourcing, franchising, subcontracting
- dismemberment of large conglomerats
- the the paradigm of the 'loosely coupled network'
c) external, resp. inter-corporate
- globalization as corporate strategyv - collaborative manufacturing involving informal networks of firms
- temporary strategic alliances
- eco-system approach in industrial regions ('synenergetic technopoles')

Although the word democratization is not among the slogans circulating around the management 'revolution' it seems to be pointed towards by most arguments put forward. Democratization seems the repressed driving logic of recent (and future) productivity gains. Democratization seems to be (the dangerous and potentially undermining but) inevitable panacea for industry (capital) in order to cope with the new challenge of permanent re-orientation and innovation. The more information-based, the more dependent upon research & development production in the western metropolis becomes, the less can it proceed autocratically.

The new organizational paradigms (e.g. the rhizome), which Deleuze & Guattari elaborated in the late seventies, in dialogue with the anti-Leninist forms of revolutionary struggle and organisation, most explicitly elaborated in the Italian "autonomia" movement (48), seem to become the very paradigms of corporate restructuring: The aborescent command pyramid of classical corporatism is mutating towards the rhysomatic plateau upon which the leadership is distributed in a permanently shifting multiplicity where every point bears the latency of becoming a temporary centre. A whole series of striking parallels can be drawn between the seventies counter-culture and 80ties/90ties establishment: - The autonomous revolutionary "groupuscule" and the new business strategy of autonomous profit centres, group work and temporary task-forces.

- The rotating leadership on the left and general shortening of contracts (the "one minute manager") in business. - The disintegration of (international) party discipline in favour of the "free circulation of struggles" and the disintegration of the large corporation into a network of subcontractural relations.

What does this involuntary imitation signify? Certainly not a capitalist utopia. And certainly no democratization on the political level. Here we witness rather the reverse: Privatization, increasing class-polarization, militarism etc. What it might signify is that the developement of productivity points beyond the rigidities of class-society.

Current socio-economic restructuring proceeds through the contradictory interaction of technological, organizational and political processes. It is crucial to distinguish those aspects that pertain to productive progress from those that pertain to the simultaneously evolving political conditions that frame and overdetermine ('distort') productive restructuring. The ability, to distinguish Post-fordism as a new paragigm of production attaining new levels of productivity from the simultaneous neo-liberal offensive that utilizses (and the competing capitals force each other to utilize) the unsettled relations of production for a decisive shift in the underlying political relations, is crucial to any assessment of architecture's prospect.

In my analysis the three main progressive and productive factors of Postfordist restructuring are the following:

1. globalization, i.e. a new level of international integration of production
2. flexible specialization - made possible by the computer-revolution
3. the organisational revolution - i.e. the relative de-hierarchization and de- beaurocratization, i.e. democratization of work. Under current capitalism these features are distorted, compromised and borne out to the disadvantage of the majority of the world population.

1. Globalization takes the form of a re-emergence of interimperialist rivalries, militarism, enforced austerity programmes, the break up of national welfare compromises between capital and labour, resulting in a fierce downward competition of labour-costs, i.e. of the majority's standart of living. Also overall productivity suffers as long as the world allocation of material and labour resources remains driven by an irrational , militarily guaranteed , and thus ultimately very costly "cheapness" of labour, which allows the squandering of millions of potentially much more productive lifes.
2. The new flexibility and potential richness of life-work is borne out and experienced by labour as existential insecurity. On the product side the new economies of scope are abused for stratification and status consumption rather than non-exclusive diversity. They become barriers rather than means of social communication.
3. The rationale of discursive cooperation rather than command type of work-organization is forced upon the capitalist corporation by the new degree of complexity and flexibility of the total production process within which it has to function. Nevertheless it remains highly compromised and limited by the reality of class-society with its inherent hierarchy and irrational hingeing of authority upon property.

This contradictory dialectic of capitalist progress/regress(49) is exemplified in the limited and distorted form in which the logical managerial consequences of the reproduction process of postfordism (flexible specialization) as drawn out by business think-tankers - abolishment of hierarchies through networks, devolution of authority etc. - have been (mis)implemented within capitalist business. Despite of its highly compromised implementation, the theoretetical congruency of recent organizational theory with the seventies' anarchist ideas of revolutionary organization (as shown above) remains remarkable. This discourse entered architectural discourse via the abstract and generalized forms and formulations propagated by Deleuze and Guattari in their 'Thousand Plateaus' from 1980. This book, which presents radical politics in the form of a quasi-geometry, is obviously the main source of inspiration for the formal claims and strategies of the "New Architecture" of "Folding". Those strategies, as they align themselves to the most innovative and progressive developements within capitalism, also point to something beyond.

Repercussions in architecture:The"Loosley Coupled Network" and the "School of Fish"(50) It seems as if innovating business becomes the congenial audience and client for the recent architectural avant-gardes of deconstructivism and folding. The organisational changes in the architectural profession itself too point in the very direction which is suggested by this list of catch phrases and slogans.

The large corporations dissolve into clusters of consulting offices which in turn dissolve into clusters of free-lancing consultants: a universe of swarming atoms where densities occur in the zones of hyper-mobility. Only short-term, project-based forms of associations are realised. Even during a single "project", which itself is often only a certain phase within the production of a building, the cluster of consultants is in permanent flux. (The vanishing point of the network idea leaves the architect either as shifting pinball at the margins or in the rarefied realm of the star-system, at the diminishing central node, as "value-added remarketer" or "systems house", not much more than a brand name franchised out to the various production conglomerates. But this franchising node has only the appearance of an originating centre. In reality it is rather just one point of temporary gravity in the moving swarm.)

All this suggests that the architect will have to re-conceive himself and his operations via the very terms through which the recent avant-gardes of postmodernism, deconstructivism and folding have revolutionised architecture's conceptual apparatus, formal techniques and spatial paradigms: Those new forms of operation will be characterised by notions like heterogeneity, multiplicity, ambiguity, super-imposition, multiple affiliation, fluidity, the pliant and the supple, blurring, field versus object, loose control, laxity etc. The rhizome, as expounded by Deleuze and Guattari, will replace the tree not only in the vocabulary of architecture and urbanism ("A city is not a tree") - the rhizome is becoming the organisational paradigm of the professions own constitution. (The building of flexible networks of small specialized firms is a strategy recommended in recent issues of the official organ the German chamber of Architects - DAB) The architect's office becomes multiplicitous, it transforms - to borrow one of the most immediate Deleuzian examples of rhizomatic organisation - its regular standing army into the fluid squads of guerrilla warfare.

notes / references:

1. The currency of "New Architecture" is due to Jeffrey Kipnis' "Towards a New Architecture" (AD, Folding in Architecture, London 1993) - a manifesto-type attempt to synthesize and formalise the underlying notions, methods and formal strategies apparent in a series of recent projects and texts that seem to crystallise into a new paradigmatic discourse beyond Deconstructivism. Although a series of distinct nuances/emphases and some new concepts/qualities might warrant another manifesto, the direct lineage from Deconstructivism is as obvious as the polemic attempt to establish distance. My paper therefore uses "New Architecture" more loosely as pars pro toto including most of "Deconstructivism" and even some "Postmodernism". "Folding" is the term that seems to have gained most ground as label for a new avant-garde and refers exclusively to the work of Lynn, Kipnis, Shirdel, a co-opted Eisenman etc., i.e. the work Kipnis refers to as "New Architecture".

2.Concerning the relation of Postfordism and Organisation Theory: The former elaborates an explanatory theory that encompasses the whole of socio-economic development on a macro-scale and in historical perspective while the latter might be considered as a sub-discourse that is directly concerned with the development of corporate structures and often understands itself as a design discipline. The relation to architecture is here much more immediate. That the design of the organisation and the design of its building(s) are related is reflected in the recent tendency of large corporations to synthesise their departments for personnel, real estate and information technology.

3.The fundamental dialectic exchange between architecture and the foundations of thinking (as ordering) is evident in the abundance of architectural metaphors in philosophy (foundation, structure, edifice) and most explicitly demonstrated in Mark Wigley's book on deconstruction. Wigley, M., The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derrida's Haunt, Cambridge MA.1993

4. Castells, M. & Hall, P., Technopoles of the World, London & N.Y. 1994

5. "All the elements of the cultural past must be "reinvested" or dissapear." (Asger Jorn, 'Detourned Painting', quoted in Guy Debord's 'Detournement as negation and prelude', Internationale Situationniste #3, December 1959, translated in: Situationist International - Anthology, Knabb, K.(Ed.), Berkeley 1981.

6.Ash Amin, p.1, Introduction to "Post-Fordism - A Reader", Oxford / Cambridge MA.1994

7.Besides the above mentioned Anthology edited by Ash Amin, the notion of Postfordism is extensively discussed and employed in: Robin Murray, Fordism and Postfordism, in S. Hall & M.Jacques, New Times, London 1989 W. Ruigrok & R. van Tulder, The Logic of International Restructuring, London, New York 1995 Hirst,P. & Zeitlin,J., Flexible Specialization versus post-Fordism, London 1991 David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, Oxford / Cambridge MA. 1989 Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies, London, N.Y. 1989

8. UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Developement Organisation), Structural Change in Industry, Vienna 1979 OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Developement), Positive Adjustment ploicies: Managing Structural Change, Paris 1983

9. Michel Aglietta, A Theory of Capitalist Regulation - The US Experience, London 1979

10. In the previous period industrial production gained ground on a market still dominated by middle class consumption, while worker's consumption was, as a rather precarious market, still partially served by petty production and to a certain extent even still based on subsistence, as exemplified by the vegetable gardens which most working class families still maintained in the 19th century.

11. These are two examples of leading architecture being identified with neo-classical state representation. The main task was the articulation of the facade. Wallot was the architect of the 'Reichstag' in Wilhelminian Berlin, Theophil Hansen was the architect of the Vienna Reichsrat 1883.

12. The paradigm of the assembly-line, on the one hand multiplies those processes by furthering the technical division of labour while on the other hand furthering their integration under a single command via the concentration of capital. This concentration couples the increase of the technical division of labour with a reduction of the social division of labour. Marx distinguishes between technical and social division of labour.(Capital Vol.I) The former refers to the partition and distribution of tasks between operatives within a firm and the latter describes the division of labour between firms integrated only through the market. Each type might be transformed into the other. The emergence of manufacture and the capitalist firm from precapitalist commodity production implies the two-fold process of absorbing the social division of labour by integrating various crafts within one economic unit while simultaneously breaking down the former artisan's labour into a series of partial tasks. Those might in turn become the basis for specialised enterprises, possibly to be re-integrated at a later stage of developement. Although each new technical division of labour opens the possibilty of a further social division of labour, i.e. the comodification of partial products, the dominating tendency, especially during the whole historical epoch of monopoly capitalism, has been the comprehensive integration of production into super-corporations where large administrative beaurocracies planned the complex internal allocation of resources thus taking over the organization of considerable chunks of the economy from the (less reliable) invisible hand of the market.

13. Boyle, B.M., Architectural Practice in America, 1865-1965 - Ideal and Reality in: Kostof, S. (Ed.), The Architect - Chapters in the History of the Profession, Oxford 1977

14. Hybridity, in contra-distinction to the notion of mere "tolerant" juxta-position of cultures in liberal "multi-culturalism", becomes the axiom of recent "postcolonial criticism" as represented by Homi K. Bhabha. "I want to take my stand on the shifting margins of cultural displacement - that confounds any profound or "authentic" sense of a 'national' culture or 'organic' intellectual - and ask what the function of a committed theoretical perspective might be, once the cultural and historical hybridity of the postcolonial world is taken as the paradigmatic place of departure. ... This is a different dynamic from the ethic tolerance in liberal ideology which has to imagine opposition in order to contain it ..."

15. The mis-appropriation of semiotics in architecture is criticized in Agrest, D. & Gandelsonas, M., Semiotics and Architecture - Ideological Consumption or Theoretical Work, (originally published as "Critical Remarks on Semiology and Architecture", in Oppositions No.1, N.Y.C. 1973), in: Nesbitt, K. (Ed.), Theorizing a new agenda for architecture - anthology of architectural theory 1965 -1995

16. The recent rejection of the semiotic dimension in architecture by Kipnis , Lynn, Allen etc. seems as one-sided as its previous predominance. Experience (rather than any a priori 'ontological' argument) shows that concern for "effect" and "performativity" can not remain oblivious to semiotic effects that operate disregarding intentions of "blankness" and the the exorcism of reference. This holds for the majority of problems architects are trying to solve (including such (abstract) effects as 'multiple affiliation') - notwithstanding the acknowledgement of fact that some really interesting effects concerning circulation patterns have recently been simulated with particle animators, thus demonstrating that patterns that seemed to presuppose intelligence and culture can be reduced to a 'blindly" operating configurational logic.(Frank Schweitzer, Institute for Physics, Humboldt University, Berlin)

17. Cannon, T.: Welcome to the Revolution - Managing Paradox in the 21st Century, London 1996 Ray, M. & Rinzler,A.:The new Paradigm for Business, L.A. 1993 Peters,T. : Liberation Management - Necessary Disorganisation for Nanosecond Nineties, N.Y. 1993 Peters, T.: Thriving on Chaos, N.Y. 1987 Bergquist,W.: The Postmodern Organisation - mastering the art of irreversable change, New York 1993 Kilduff,m.: Deconstructing Organisations, Academy of Management review 18 Blanchard,K.& Johnson,S.: The One Minute Manager, New York 1982 Bower,J.L.: Disruptive Technologies - Catching the Wave, Harvard Business Review, Jan./Feb.1995

18. Ure, Andrew: The Philosophy of Manufacture: or an Exposition of the Scientific, Moral and Commercial Economy of the Factory System in Great Britain, London 1835, quoted in Marx, Karl: Capital, Vol.I, p.395, Lawrence &Wishart, London 1954(1st engl. edition 1887).

19. Taylor, F.W.:Testimony to the House of Representatives Commitee, 1912, in: Scientific Management, p.39, Harper &Row 1947

20. Fayol, H.:General and Industrial Management, Pitman 1949, chapter 4, (French original published in 1916)

21. Alexander, Ch.: A City is not a Tree, in: Feher,M. & Kwinter, S. (Ed.): Zone 1/2, N.Y.

22. Weber,M.: Bureaucracy, in: From Max Weber - Essays in Sociology, N.Y. 1946, edited by H.H.Gerth & C. Wright Mills (originally published in German in 1916 as part of Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, part III, chap.6)

23. Burns, T. & Stalker, G.M. , The Management of Innovation, London 1961 all quotes from: Burns, T., Industry in a new age, New Society, Jan. 1963

24. It has to be admitted: Firstly that the notion of post-fordism is here brought to - rather than derived from - management discourse. Secondly that a fiat - though heuristically motivated and historically argued for - is involved in insisting on a fundamentally binary structure in analysing 20th Century socio-economic developement (from Fordism to Post-Fordism) rather than prioritizing a manifold of 3 or 4 steps or a smooth and undifferentiatd evolution along a certain scale or vector (e.g. degree of functional differentiation, productivity etc.). Such scales certainly can be identified, but something more is asserted when one talks about a systemic shift (from Fordism to Post-Fordism). And this is also something other than an even phasing between two poles, although the notion of sytems, while implying integrety, does not a priori exclude a smooth evolution (as seems to be the case in natural evolution). Socio-economic history looks different: here we certainly witness an uneven distribution of change. Here the move from one sytem to another involves crisis, transitional mal-operation and acceleration of institutional change (revolution) - as is evident in the history of the 20th Century. So I want to go ahead with the working hypothesis of a fundamental boundary, even if this boundary is fuzzy. If not a line, a ridge might be looked for in each (and identified in most) realms of social life. Its profile might vary and be rather flat in some realms, steep in others. Also one might have to allow for substantial asynchronies. ( Which language one uses - 'shifts', 'systems', 'scalar progress', 'crisis' - should (and ultimately will) be regulated by pragmatics, i.e. the predictive performance of the respective language in relation to agendas, consciously pursuit (or sytemically asserted)).

27. Buckley, W. , Sociology and Modern Systems Theory, New Jersey 1967

28. Soja, E.W. , Postmodern Geographies - The Reassertion of Space in Critical Theory, N.Y. 1989

29.Buckley, W. , Sociology and Modern Systems Theory, New Jersey 1967

30. 1967 was the year Jacques Derrida published three of his most important books: Of Grammotology, Writing and Difference, Speach and Phenomena.

31. But even in its updated forms the theory is not easily geared towards a productive social analysis.

32. P.R.Lawrence & J.W.Lorch "High performing Organizations in Three Environments", in Organization and Environment, Harvard University Press 1967

33. Trist, E.L. , A Concept of Organizational Ecology, Australien Journal of Management, 2, 1976

34. Since adequacy (requisite variety) as a category was questioned on this page: without being able to argue it in a note: I can sustain an operational (political) notion of adequacy, beyond aristotelian logic, within a framework of a historical dialectical materialism that recuperates the post-structuralist advances and participates in the convergence towards a pragmatist epistemology.

35. Hillier,B., Space is the machine, Cambridge 1996 also: Hillier, B. & Hanson, J., The social Logic of space, Cambridge 1984.

36. By now there has been reference made to so called 'Post-modern Perspectives' in organization theory. Hatch, M.J., Organization Theory - Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives, Oxford 1997

37. Crozier, M., Comparing structures and comparing games, in Hofstede, G. & Kassem, S.(eds.), European Contributions to Organization Theory, Van Gorcum 1976

38. March, J.G. & Olsen, J.P., Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations, 1976

39. A dense collection of student work, and a sophisticated (as well as polemical) account of the form-to-programmme-method, is available in: Rhowbotham, K., Form to Programme, Black Dog Publishing, London 1995

40. Derrida, J., Differance, in Margins of Philosophy, Chicago 1982, French: Paris 1972

41. Derrida, J., Of Grammotology, p.23, Baltimore 1974, French: Paris 1967

42. I refer to the kind of stiffness I want to point at via its opposite - the lax - in order to remain on constant alert against its misreading as deterministic rigidity.

43. Lynn, G., Architectural Curvilinearity, p.10, in: AD Folding in Architecture, London 1993 I am saying "easily misread as" instead of "implies", because Greg Lynn's writings contain everything I need to make my subsequent argument. Especially his "Multiplicitous and Inorganic Bodies" (Assemblage 19) is to be recommended as first hand introduction to a new architecture (beyond structuralism). My arguments are arguments of emphasis.

44. Ibid., p.12

45. Ibid., p.12

46. Surrealism (as an active cultural practise rather than mere commentary) plays an enormously important role in the developement of all the ideas one would have to refer to here. Lefebvre's 'moment', the Situationist 'situation', Bataille's 'in-forme' etc.

47. Derrida, J., Disseminations, p.5, Chicago 1981, French: Paris 1972

48. Italy: Autonomia - Post-political Politics, Semio-text(e), N.Y.C.1980

49. Progress is no metaphysical a priori of history but first of all defined materially through the (empirically) evaluable parameter of productivity.

50. The scholars Piore and Sabel derived the network paradigm and the underlying concept of "flexible specialization" from their 1984 study of the booming industrial district of Northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna ("Third Italy") where according to their analysis the success was based on networks of small firms being able to flexibly supply an inovative variety of sophisticated products for volatile consumer preferences. "School of fish" is one of the latest analogies proposed by Jeffrey Kipnis to point towards a new architectural concept beyond the dichotomy of object and space.


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