Organizational Structure: Mintzberg’s Framework
Fred C. Lunenburg
Sam Houston State University
ABSTRACT Henry Mintzberg suggests that organizations can be differentiated along three basic dimensions: (1) the key part of the organization, that is, the part of the organization that plays the major role in determining its success or failure; (2) the prime coordinating mechanism, that is, the major method the organization uses to coordinate its activities; and (3) the type of decentralization used, that is, the extent to which the organization involves subordinates in the decision-making process. Using the three basic dimensions —key part of the organization, prime coordinating mechanism, and type of decentralization—Mintzberg suggests that the strategy an organization adopts and the extent to which it practices that strategy result in five structural configurations: simple structure, machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, divisionalized form, and adhocracy.
Organizations exist to achieve goals. These goals are broken down into tasks as the basis for jobs. Jobs are grouped into departments. Departments in organizations may be characterized by marketing, sales, advertising, manufacturing, and so on. Within each department, even more distinctions can be found between the jobs people perform. Departments are linked to form the organizational structure. The organization’s structure gives it the form to fulfill its function in the environment (Nelson & Quick, 2011). The term organizational structure refers to the formal configuration between individuals and groups regarding the allocation of tasks, responsibilities, and authority within the organization (Galbraith, 1987; Greenberg, 2011) Very early organizational structures were often based either on product or function (Oliveira & Takahashi, 2012). The matrix organization structure crossed these two ways of organizing (Galbraith, 2009; Kuprenas, 2003). Others moved beyond these early approaches and examined the relationship between organizational strategy and structure (Brickley, Smith, Zimmerman, & Willett, 2002). This approach began with the landmark work of Alfred Chandler (1962, 2003), who traced the historical development of such large American corporations as DuPont, Sears, and General Motors. He concluded from his study that an organization’s strategy tends to influence its structure. He suggests that strategy indirectly determines such variables as the organization’s tasks, technology, and environments, and each of these influences the structure of the organization. More recently, social scientists have augmented Chandler’s thesis by contending that an organization’s strategy determines its environment, technology, and tasks. These variables, coupled with growth rates and power distribution, affect organizational 1
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structure (Hall & Tolbert, 2009; Miles, Snow, Meyer, & Coleman, 2011). Henry Mintzberg (1992, 2009) suggests that organizations can be differentiated along three basic dimensions: (1) the key part of the organization, that is, the part of the organization that plays the major role in determining its success or failure; (2) the prime coordinating mechanism, that is, the major method the organization uses to coordinate its activities; and (3) the type of decentralization used, that is, the extent to which the organization involves subordinates in the decision-making process. The key parts of an organization are shown in Figure 1 and include the following.
Strategic Apex Technostructure
Figure 1. The key parts of an organization. The strategic apex is top management and its support staff. In school districts, this is the...