An organizational structure is a mostly hierarchical concept of subordination of entities that collaborate and contribute
to serve one common aim.
Organizations are a number of clustered entities. The structure of an organization is usually set up in one of a variety
of styles, dependent on their objectives and ambience. The structure of an organization will determine the modes in which
it shall operate and will perform.
Organizational structure allows the expressed allocation of responsibilities for different functions and processes
to different entities. Ordinary description of such entities is as branch, site, department, work
groups and single people. Contracting of individuals in an organizational structure normally is under timely limited work
contracts or work orders or under timely unlimited employment contracts or program orders.
Operational organizations and Informal organizations
The set organizational structure may not coincide with facts, evolving in operational action. Such divergence decreases
performance, when growing. E.g. a ‘’wrong’’ organizational structure may hamper cooperation and thus
hinder the completion of orders in due time and within limits of resources and budgets. Organizational structures shall be
adaptive to process requirements, aiming to optimize the ratio of effort and input to output. An effective organizational
structure shall facilitate working relationships between various entities in the organization and may improve the working
efficiency within the organizational units. Organization shall retain a set order and control to enable monitoring the processes.
Organization shall support command for coping with a mix of orders and a change of conditions while performing work. Organization
shall allow for application of individual skills to enable high flexibility and apply creativity. When a business expands,
the chain of command will lengthen and the spans of control will widen. When an organization comes to age, the flexibility
will decrease and the creativity will fatigue. Therefore organizational structures shall be altered from time to time to enable
recovery. If such alteration is prevented by internal or external forces, the final escape is to turn down the organization
to prepare for a re-launch in an entirely new set up.
- By Mary Chong - RCC
Common success criteria for organizational structures are:
- Decentralized reporting
- Flat hierarchy
- High transient speed
- High transparency
- Low residual mass
- Permanent monitoring
- Rapid response
- Shared reliability
Organizational structures developed from the ancient times of hunters and collectors in tribal organizations through highly
royal and clerical power structures to industrial structures and today's post-industrial structures.
Organizational Structure Types
Pre-bureaucratic (entrepreneurial) structures lack standardization of tasks. This structure is most common in smaller organizations and is best used to solve simple tasks. The structure is
totally centralized. The strategic leader makes all key decisions and most communication is done by one on one conversations.
It is particularly useful for new (entrepreneurial) business as it enables the founder to control growth and development.
They are usually based on traditional domination or charismatic domination in the sense of Max Weber's tripartite classification of authority.
Bureaucratic structures have a certain degree of standardization. They are better suited for more complex or larger scale organizations.
They usually adopt a tall structure. Then tension between bureaucratic structures and non-bureaucratic is echoed in Burns
and Stalker's (1961) distinction between mechanistic and organic structures.
The term of post bureaucratic is used in two senses in the organizational literature: one generic and one much more specific
(see Grey & Garsten, 2001). In the generic sense the term post bureaucratic is often used to describe a range of ideas
developed since the 1980s that specifically contrast themselves with Weber's ideal type Bureaucracy. This may include Total Quality Management, Culture Management and the Matrix Organization amongst others. None of these however has left behind the core tenets of Bureaucracy. Hierarchies still exist, authority
is still Weber's rational, legal type, and the organisation is still rule bound. Heckshcer, arguing along these lines, describes
them as cleaned up bureaucracies (Hecksher & Donellson, 1994), rather than a fundamental shift away from bureaucracy.
Gideon Kunda, in his classic study of culture management at 'Tech' argued that 'the essence of bureaucratic control - the
formalisation, codification and enforcement of rules and regulations - does not change in principle.....it shifts focus from
organizational structure to the organization's culture'.
Another smaller group of theorists have developed the theory of the Post-Bureaucratic Organization. Heckscher and Donnellson
, provide a detailed discussion which attempts to describe an organization that is fundamentally not bureaucratic. Charles Heckscher has developed an ideal type Post-Bureaucratic Organization in which decisions are based on dialogue and consensus rather than authority and command, the organisation is a network rather
than a hierarchy, open at the boundaries (in direct contrast to culture management); there is an emphasis on meta-decision
making rules rather than decision making rules. This sort of horizontal decision making by consensus model is often used in Housing cooperatives, other Cooperatives and when running a non-profit or Community organization. It is used in order to encourage participation and help to empower people who normally experience Oppression in groups.
Still other theorists are developing a resurgence of interest in Complexity Theory and Organizations, and have focused on how simple structures can be used to engender organizational adaptations. For instance, Miner and colleagues
(2000) studied how simple structures could be used to generate improvisational outcomes in product development. Their study
makes links to simple structures and improviseal learning. Other scholars such as Jan Rivkin, Kathleen Eisenhardt Nicolaj
Sigglekow, and Nelson Repenning revive an older interest in how structure and strategy relate in dynamic environments.
The functional structure groups employees together based upon the functions of specific jobs within the organization. For
example, a division of an internet service provider (ISP) with a functional organizational structure might be as follows:
- Sales Department (sales function)
- Customer Service Department (customer service function)
- Engineering Department (engineering function)
- Accounting Department (accounting function)
- Administration Department (administration function)
Matrix structure groups employees by both function and product. This structure can combine the best of both separate structures.
An example would be a company that produces two products, "product a" and "product b". Using the matrix structure, this company
would organize functions within the company as follows: "product a" sales department, "product a" customer service department,
"product a" accounting, "product b" sales department, "product b" customer service department, "product b" accounting department.
Matrix structure is the most complex of the different organizational structures.
•Weak/Functional Matrix: A project manager with only limited authority is assigned to oversee the cross- functional
aspects of the project. The functional managers maintain control over their resources and project areas.
•Balanced/Functional Matrix: A project manager is assigned to oversee the project. Power is shared equally
between the project manager and the functional mangers. It brings the best aspects of functional and projectized organizations.
However, this is the most difficult system to maintain as the sharing power is delicate proposition.
•Strong/Project Matrix: A project manager is primarily responsible for the project. Functional managers provide
technical expertise and assign resources as needed.
Note: There is no good or bad Matrix.