Mechanistic vs Organic

Topics: Decision making, Communication, Hierarchy Pages: 4 (1116 words) Published: October 24, 2011
It is widely accepted that within contemporary society there exists two overarching structures that facilitate the communication between individuals, organisations and various bodies. These two communication structures are commonly referred to as mechanistic and organic. When referring to contemporary society we can define this to mean the structural composition of today’s society in general (social, cultural and economic). For the purposes of this essay however we will concentrate on modern day corporate communication structures, which can be seen as microcosms of society (Raiborn 1990). Mechanistic communication structures are characterised by a traditional top down hierarchy and are traditionally the domain of “large-scale, and low-complexity structures,” (Grunig 1992, p.403) Mechanistic communication usually occurs vertically throughout the hierarchy – Top management to upper management, upper management to middle management, middle management to supervisory, supervisory to entry level personnel (and vice-versa). When mechanistic structures are viewed outside a business environment we can see them in force throughout our levels of government, in private enterprise, in schools and universities. Organic communication is characterised by a non-linear communication structures within an organisation, and are frequently “Small in scale but high in complexity,” (Grunig 1992, p.403). Communication usually occurs in a lateral method of “consultation rather than vertical commands” (Burns & Stalker 1961, p.121), where “members can speak freely to anyone in the group,” (Bell & Smith 2010, p.33). When looking for organic communication structures outside a business environment, we will see them in places such as public forums, brainstorming sessions, and response teams which are required to work autonomously (medical, police etc).

In a traditional mechanistic (also referred to as bureaucratic) structure, communication is centralised, meaning that it there is a clear...
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