A CAUSAL MODEL OF ORGANIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE
W. Warner Burke and George H. Litwin
One might argue that the world does not need yet another organizational model. However, the purpose of this paper is to argue the opposite: a functional-cause-andeffect model based on sound research, theory, and organizational consulting experience can contribute both to scholarly usefulness and to a general understanding of organizations. Organizational models that do little more than describe or depict are frustrating, both from the perspective of research about organizations and from that of consultation to organizational clients. What is needed is a model that predicts behavior and performance consequences, one that deals with cause (organizational conditions) and effect (resultant performance). Some existing organizational models that are largely descriptive do stipulate certain parameters. Weisbord (1976), for example, states that the role of the leadership box in his six-box model is to coordinate the remaining five. The Nadler-Tushman (1977) model is one of congruence. These authors argue that for effectiveness, the various boxes comprising their model should be congruent with one another; for example, organizational arrangements (structure) should be congruent with organizational strategy. However, most if not all of these models are largely descriptive, with limited, if any, causal features. It is true that contingency models of organizations (Lawrence & Lorsch, 1969; Burns & Stalker, 1961) do have certain causal aspects. Organizational effectiveness is, in part, contingent on the degree of match between the organization’s external environment (whether static or dynamic) and the organization’s internal structure (either mechanistic or organic). But contingency models tend to present too many contingencies and few, if any, methods for sorting out their interrelationships. In contrast, the subject of this article, the Burke-Litwin model, is more than merely descriptive...
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