What does postmodern mean? In perhaps the clearest answer to "What does postmodern mean?" Ken Wilber (1996: 58), author of A Brief History of Everything says there are "Modern" and "Postmodern" approaches to knowledge. We are at a "great watershed" in history, a "revolution in human understanding" of knowledge:

And, in fact, there is simply no way to carry these types of discussions forward unless we talk about the momentous differences between the modern and postmodern approaches to knowledge. But its not all dull and dry. In many ways, it's even the key to locating Spirit in the postmodern world.

Postmodern is a "new paradigm" approach to knowledge and it is also a "new paradigm" of aesthetics (Feldman, Y. 1999). Best and Kellner (1997) call this "postmodern turn" a turn with two aspects, (1) the shift in modern to postmodern science knowledge and (2) a shift in aesthetics (See also Hassan, 1987; Clingham, 1998).  Postmodern aesthetics is a new sensibility, a rejection of the "boring, pretentious, and elitist, European and American high modernism" (Best & Kellner, 1997: 124).   

Is there a Postmodern Organization? "The postmodern organizational form has been used as a contrast to bureaucratic forms of organization. Peter Drucker first applied the term "postmodern" to organization, in 1957, in a book titled, Landmarks of Tomorrow. By postmodern, Drucker, meant a shift from the Cartesian universe of mechanical cause/effect (subject/object duality) to a new universe of pattern, purpose, and process. Such organizations are now called loosely coupled, fluid, organic, and adhocratic instead of the static bureaucratic structures that have traditionally preoccupied much of the organization literature (Hardy & Parker, 1999).

Although Drucker (1992) uses the term postmodern organization, he uses it differently from the postmodern-organization theorists. For Drucker, it is a post-Cartesian construct. The concept postmodern corporation is a disputed one in the literature. Reviews by Alvesson and Deetz (1996), Kilduff and Mehra (1997), and Hassard and Parker (1993) do not support the theory that there is any such entity as a postmodern organization. On the other end of the debate are those who contend that there are either hybrid or pure forms of postmodern organization, including Boje and Dennehy (1994), Clegg (1990), and Hirschman and Holbrook (1992). [Source: Stutts & Barker, 1999: Footnote 1).

If postmodern organization is replacing bureaucracy then there is a question to be asked? Without bureaucracy, what are our "systematic defense against anxiety?" (Krantz, 1996). Can we get along without bureaucracy?

"If, as many now argue, the structural defenses against task anxieties and the insulated cultures provided by the dependency hierarchies of more traditional organizations no longer serve in the current environment, the question must then be posed-what new defenses do we have available?" (Long, 1999).  Hirschhorn (1998) says White (1999) "recommends finding an appropriate "role-person balance" and exploring "the dilemmas of openness" where individuals are more open, present, authoritative, and vulnerable. This way of being can develop into a "culture of openness," which he sees at the core of a humane and successful postmodern organization." 

What is the Postmodern Storytelling Organization? A storytelling organization can be modern, postmodern, or both.  A storytelling organization is all the ways people join in and constrain storytelling in organizations to construct and reconstruct "collective memory." The customer, employee and manager's life space becomes reduced to the circulation of fragmented stories across administrative networks that overwhelm the life narrative of the self and how people might otherwise tell and hear their life stories.

What are various postmodern approaches? There are affirmative postmodernists who see some possibility for modern organizations, skeptical postmodernist who do not believe in a postmodern organization (it is just late modern in disguise) and the critical postmodernist, who has a more moderate position. "Critical postmodern organization theory posits the increasing rationalization of organizational life as a threat to individual choice and well-being" (Feldman, S. 1999: 228). The focus of critical postmodern organization theory is the exploitative relations that power/knowledge regimes create (Deetz, 1992, Townley, 1993, 1994). They see a mixture of modern and postmodern forms in most organizations. 

There are other types of posts ("post-industrial"  or "post-Fordism" or even "post-capitalism").

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