Mechanistic versus Organic Organisational Structures.

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In this vast growing global economy, organizations are often confronted

with increasing instability due to continuous changes in technology, an influx of

competition and rapidly changing customer needs. With respect to this it is imperative

that organizations respond to required or forced changes to their environment if the firms

existing goals are to be achieved.

With this in mind, organizations turn to management to combat the budding problem, through organizing. Organizing involves the structuring of the resources of the organization in order to achieve its objectives. This structuring includes:

*Dividing tasks into jobs (Adam Smith 1700's).

*Assigning jobs.

*Clustering of jobs into units, departments etc. to form the shape of the organization.

*Delegating authority and establishing a chain of command.

However, we cannot see the management function of organizing as the sole function of the manager, in order to combat these changes (individuals and groups in organizations will inevitably contribute to organizing the organization by the way they "do" or "don't do" activities). Organizing involves the way people impose meanings, interpret actions and make responses to things, when they cannot make sense of these things; people reinterpret them according to their own views and often try to impose them on others. Therefore, the organizational structure is strengthened, through various means for example performance appraisal, different pay rates etc.

In light of this, they are many factors to consider for organizations to design the type of structure which best suits the way they wish to achieve their goals. What design is finally agreed upon depends on a number of decisions such as:

*Do we want/need to decentralize decision making.

*Are they needs to deal with problems such as the effect of structure on communications; staff/line conflict especially the tension between employees and experts and line managers; centralization versus decentralization etc.

This leads to the most important question, which design options should be considered, but before considering however, there are a number of variables which need to be taken into account with design options such as strategy, size, technology and the environment surrounding the organization before any decisions can be made.

Although these differences between organizations or enormous, they are many similarities that enable them to be classified into models. Two of these extreme models are mechanistic and organic which was developed by Tom Burns & G M Stalker in there study of electronics firms in the United Kingdom.

Mechanistic and organic management systems are at opposite ends of the range of design systems that organizations adopt, firms can move along this range from one end to the other, or occupy positions in between (boundaryless organization) depending on the nature of there work, and changing circumstances. The kinds of practices organizations choose along the range vary according to whether the environment is stable, and the technological conditions are well understood (when mechanistic management is appropriate), or whether the environment is highly unpredictable, with rapid technological change and boundless market opportunities, (when organic management is appropriate).

However, my focus is on the organic design structure, organic structures have a flat or horizontal structure with only one or two levels of management where the employee's knowledge or expertise in their area is shared in the organization. This teamwork atmosphere allows knowledge to be shared in the organization which plays an important role in the day to day running of the business.

Clearly in organizations where the structure is horizontal, all employees contribute and have a share of knowledge and expertise within the organization. The insight on this was as a result of the Burns and Stalker's study, where they provided the clearest analysis on...
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