Compare, Contrast and Discuss Mechanistic vs. Organic Structures Vance Conyers
Organizational Theory 360A
28 September 2012
Organization structure is “The formal system of task and authority relationships that control how people coordinate their actions and use resources to achieve goals”. (Jones 8) The structure that an organization forms can determine its ultimate success of failure. It sets the foundation for how the organization will function, make decisions, and respond to change. The two types of structures an organization can use are mechanic and organic. Mechanistic and organic structures both have advantages and disadvantages, and neither one is a perfect solution. Depending on the product, tasks to create the product, and people to create the product, make the decision very challenging. In most cases, elements of both types are implemented to ensure a successful business. The executive management is responsible for formulating the right mix in order to achieve success. They use organizational design to process information to select the best options. Every aspect of this decision will play out from how much power middle managers have, to the scope of responsibility direct supervisors encompass. The type of organization directly affects the culture and moral of employees. Implementation of the wrong type or mix of structure can cause mismanagement of resources (both human and physical), a toxic culture, and ultimately a failed institution.
The mechanistic structure thrives in a stable and relatively unpredictable environment. Mechanistic structures are based on predictability and accountability. The candy making industry is a stable environment, due to the automated processes and requiring the same resources for multiple products. The decision-making in this type of structure is centralized. The stable environment will keep the need for complex decision making low. Top management holds most of the power at their level and information flows down through the hierarchy. This indicates that an organization that employs a mechanistic structure is tall, meaning many levels of management. Large businesses with many divisions and departments have tall hierarchies to manage the many people and resources that fall under its umbrella. With this, formalization in this type of structure is paramount. Rules and standard operating procedures are put in place to ensure smooth and efficient task accomplishment. As in an assembly plant, there are rules for how to operate the machinery, report an accident, and write up a daily report. The tasks determined to create value are usually specialized and have a low level of differentiation. This means that these tasks can be controlled. Task definition is ridged and clearly defined. During the production of a vehicle, if an employee is tasked with bolting tires that is all they do. Interaction between departments is not a priority because in a mechanistic structure departments do not heavily rely on each other. The marketing division will have its own budget and resources, and will not need to coordinate with the sales division for much. The way a mechanistic structure is run effects the human aspect and its perception. This type of structure induces employees in to a “rank and file” mentality. The focus is “a high level of emphasis on hierarchy and chain of command, with downward communication consisting primarily of instructions and upward communication consisting primarily of feedback”. (Hanges 353) Everyone in the organization knows who their boss is and what is expected of them. The organization has a set SOP for all personnel interactions. The SOP will include employee acceptable conduct, dress code, complaint channels, and consequences. All instructions and orders are received come from the top, and are very seldom questioned. Employees are held accountable for their actions, and have their performance routinely evaluated. In the military, every service member has their...
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