A study of the social system of an architect's office



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This is an exploratory study of the social system of an architect's office vith particular emphasis on the question of vhat happens to 'creativity' as the architect's office becomes bureaucratized. One architectural firm was studied in its entirety and selected members of a second and still larger firm were interviewed for broad comparative purposes. The investigator's own background (the investigator is a licensed architect) served as knowledge for organizational procedures of 'smaller' offices. A method of modified participant observation was used which Included unstructured interviews and some actual observation. From the material gathered, a basic description of the group was written, and from this basic description a social system type of analysis was made. Viewing the 'design role' as manifesting 'creativity' in architecture, it was found that in general, as offices become larger and more bureaucratized, opportunities for this role for the superior 'talented' individuals probably increase, and in general, opportunities for the less talented probably decrease. However, it is not necessarily the size of the organization per se that determines this; rather, it is how the organization is structured-that is, how many designers are 'allowed' to perform the role, and this can vary regardless of size. Other findings relate to the general nature of the architectural firm, which includes the fact of it being a 'professional bureaucracy.'



Architectural firms, Office culture