Genotypical Organization Design Principles DP1 and DP2 | Merrelyn Emery

Redundancy of Functions as Design Principle 2, c.f. Redundancy of Parts as DP1, described by Merrelyn Emery as Genotypical Organization Design Principles from Fred Emery in the 1960s.  SocioTechnical Systems perspective, originally associated with the Tavistock Institute for Human Relations, should be relearned.

… a major discovery made by Australian Professor Fred Emery, who worked with the Norwegian Industrial Democracy Programme from 1962 to 1967.

By 1960 Norway had still not fully recovered from the devastation of World War II and needed revitalization. The Norwegian government decided to engage in a national experiment and asked Emery and Einar Thorsrud to redesign four nationally-significant industrial sites into “sociotechnical,” or participative democratic, systems. The experiments were successful, with increased productivity, lowered costs and higher quality work for the workers across all sites.

During this work, Emery discovered that there were only two Design Principles (known as DP1 and DP2) underlying all forms of organization. These corresponded to autocracy and democracy, respectively. The language was updated, as what were previously known as climates were shown to be structures. Furthermore, laissez-faire was shown to be the absence of a design principle because there are no structural relationships between the people.

According to Emery, every organization, whether it is a family, a government, voluntary group or a workplace, is governed by one of these design principles. In workplaces that legally employ people, the relationships between employees (whether they are board members, management or workers) is either autocratic (DP1) or democratic (DP2). Normally, the design principle is encoded in a collective bargaining agreement, an individual contract, a duty statement, or in job criteria.

Emery called these two design principles “genotypical”, because:

“…like DNA, they determine the most fundamental aspects of organizational shape and characteristics.”

The basic modules of structure that flow from each of these principles is shown below:

Democratizing work: Why and how « NewUnionism's Blog

DP1 is called ‘redundancy of parts’ because there are more parts (ie people) than are required to perform a task at any given time. In DP1, responsibility for coordination and control is located at least one level above where the work is being done. That is, those above have the right and responsibility to tell those below what to do and how to do it. DP1 yields a supervisory or dominant hierarchy. Individuals have fragmented tasks and goals: one person–one job.

DP2 is called ‘redundancy of functions’ because more skills and functions are built into every person than that person can use at any one given point in time. In DP2, responsibility for coordination and control is located with the group of people performing the whole task. Each self managing group works to a unique set of negotiated and agreed, measurable goals, comprehensively covering every aspect of the work, social and environmental as well as production.

DP1 structures are hierarchies of personal dominance. DP2 structures are non-dominant hierarchies of function, where change is negotiated between peers.

Laissez-faire is defined as the absence of a design principle and, therefore, the absence of structure. It is every person for themself. Laissez-faire today commonly takes the form of an organization where the structure on paper is DP1, but the controls have been loosened to the point that there is widespread confusion about where responsibility for control and coordination are located.

DP1 structures induce competition, whereas DP2 structures induce cooperation.

Over time, DP1 actively deskills and demotivates people, whereas DP2 skills and motivates them.

“Democratizing work: Why and how” | Merrelyn Emery | June 16, 2011| New Unionism Blog at