Organizational structure is a type of framework used in businesses. Its purpose is to find the most effective way to delegate roles, power, and responsibilities to its employees and departments. It also controls and coordinates how information flows between different departments and levels of management in an organization. Having a proper organizational structure will allow a company to implement better operating procedures, and dictate which employees help in making decisions or shaping the organization. Based on an organizations goals and objectives it may be structured in many different ways. Two important structures include Mechanistic and Organic structures.

 

Mechanistic structures are mainly for companies that operate in a stable environment, use a centralized approach of authority, and maintain strong loyalty for management. Organizations that use a Mechanistic type of structure generally do not need to change or adapt their structure. This is mainly due to lack of innovation, creativity, and quick decision analysis not needed. Examples of organizations using Mechanistic structures include colleges and universities. If you think about it, they have long and strict registration procedures, rarely have to adapt or change in order to keep students enrolling, and most students tend to maintain high loyalty or obedience toward their instructors.

 

Mechanistic Structures Include:

-          Belief upper management is better capable of making decisions

-          Management instructions must be followed

-          Communication and control must proceed through hierarchical routes

-          More emphasis toward completing a task opposed to achieving company goals

-          Employees are more jobs specialized and placed into certain departments

-          Low differentiation of tasks

 

Organic structures are used in organizations facing unstable environments and must possess the ability to change accordingly. They have the ability to process, analyze, and distribute information and knowledge very quickly. This ensures that they stay competitive against other businesses. Businesses using Organic structures need to communicate effectively and quickly by spreading information. This is done by departments and different functional areas being closely integrated with one another. Also, by implementing decentralized decision making, employees of lower ranking will have the ability to make important decisions. This will help empower employees leading to greater creativity and better problem solving. Google Corporation is a great example of an Organic structure based business. Their employees are encouraged to use creative problem solving skills and develop new products.

 

Organic Structures Include:

-          Large network of authority, control, and communication

-          Problem solving is encouraged by all employees

-          Employees are more goals oriented than job orientated

-          Employee empowerment is encouraged

 

The structure of an organization will dictate how people interact with each other and their relationship of roles in the organization. If a structure is out-dated or not implemented correctly in a business, it will lead to many problems. These include conflict among employees or departments, confusion of employee roles, and lack of communication / coordination among departments.

In the past managers have simply tried to reorganize or work with the current structure of a business rather than addressing the necessary issues. This could lead to greater complexity rather than solving structural flaws


A good way to start problem solving regarding organizational structure in a business is to ask 3 important questions:

1 – Is the problem the structure or the way management is managing it?

2 – Does the structure match out strategy?

3 – Has organization design been compromised due to accommodating to personalities?

Have you ever worked in a company and thought about these 3 questions?

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Ashkenas,R. Harvard Business Review. Solving the Rubik’s Cube of Organizational Structure. Retrieved June 28,2011 from http://blogs.hbr.org/ashkenas

Corkindale,G. Harvard Business Review. The Importance of Organizational Design and Structure. Retrieved June 28,2011 from http://blogs.hbr.org/corkindale

Kotter,J. Forbes Business. Hierarchy and Network. Retrieved June 28,2011 from http://blogs.forbes.com.

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