Archive for Modern Theory

Understanding Organizational Design

We are talking organization design in our blogs. Organizations are social units with specific purposes. The basic elements of organizations have remained the same over the years. Several disciplines provide the knowledge and the means to understand organizations. However, it is appropriate to look at organizations integrally in multi-disciplinary perspective. Three viewpoints have emerged, over the years in successive stages, each seeking to provide a window on the others. They are the classical approach, three streams stand out: bureaucracy, administrative theory and principles of scientific management. It is important to note that with the passage of time, the viewpoints have been changed or modified, but not replaced as such. Each major contribution brought new knowledge, awareness, tools and techniques to understand the organizations better.

Thus, today we are richer than ever before tin terms of our knowledge about approaches to understand organizations. We take example of portable car DVD players. Today there are so many companies who are manufacturing car DVD players like philips pet1002 , samsung DVD-L100 , JVC kd-avx33.  One person can have all knowledge of such products at one desk.  All the same, more knowledge meant reckoning with more complex variables to comprehend the complexities of human organizations. There is, as yet, no general, unified, universal theory as such. Organizations being diverse and complex in more senses than one, it is difficult, if not meaningless to be too general or too specific about them.

 

Organization structures based on classical bureaucratic principles are hierarchical. But modern organization theories attempted to modify them in the light of experience, changes in technology and knowledge about human behaviour. The centralized structures gave way to some sort of decentralization and thus transformed, partially at least, vertical (tall) organizations into horizontal (flat) ones, reflecting a shift in emphasis from command to consensus based self control. The relative conditions of instability and uncertainty transformed the classical mechanistic forms of management systems into organic ones.

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Product Versus Functional Forms-2

Lawrence and Lorsch highlighted important factors about specialization and coordination. According to them classical theorists saw specialization in terms of grouping of similar activities, skills or equipment. But this concept overlooks social and psychological consequences.

 

There is an important relationship between a units’s or individual’s assigned activities and the unit members’ patterns of thought and behavior. Functional specialists tend to develop patterns of behavior and thought that are in tune with the demands of their jobs and training. As such these specialists (e.g. industrial engineers and production supervisors) have different ideas and orientation about what is important in getting the job done. For example a cheap medical insurance quotes and term life insurance quotes both are different things. A health care insurance is related to medical insurance only while term life insurance is for life. This is referred to as ‘differentiation’ which means differences in thought patterns and behavior that develop among different specialists in relation to their respective tasks. Differentiation is necessary for functional specialists to perform their jobs effectively. 

 

Differentiation is closely related to achievement of coordination which may also be referred to as ‘integration’. Therefore, alternatively both differentiation and integration coexist. This is possible through effective communication channels. The appropriate mix of differentiation and integration in an organization is considered to be dependent on the nature of external factors such as markets, technology facing an organization as well as the goals of the organization. Since organizational pattern affects individual members, management and show concern to the kind of stress and cross functional conflicts that a certain pattern may produce. 

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VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL STRUCTURE

The classical bureaucratic model of organization though pervasive, has been considered inappropriate to the changing requirements of modern times. A bureaucratic organization was considered to be too inflexible and hierarchical to adapt to the changes occurring in organizations and technology.

 

Parkinson’s laws and Peter Principle highlight the negative aspects of bureaucratic organizations. Whatever be the criticism against bureaucracies, it is realized that to some extent they have become essential. Therefore, writers and organizations began to explore ways to modify the bureaucratic organization structures. In essence these new structures reflect modifications to the classical principles of delegation of authority and standard of control.

 

Delegation extends the scope of the principle to the point of an abiding organization-wide philosophy of management. A tall organization structure means a series of narrow spans of control, and a flat one incorporates wide spans and limited layers of control at horizontal levels. Both the structures have their advantages and disadvantages. They should be viewed on relevant concepts and not as ideal absolutes.

 

A tall structure calls for control and close supervision over the subordinates. But close supervision may not necessarily produce better control. Similarly in a flat organization with wide spans, it may not be possible to keep close control over subordinates but it provides for decentralization, individual initiative and self-control. Tall structures are less favorably viewed it is held that self-control is better than imposed control. The choice in this regard however rests ultimately on management assumptions about individuals and groups in organizations.

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Centralization and Decentralization-2

Centralization is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding decision-making, become concentrated within a particular location and/or group. In political science, this refers to the concentration of a government’s power – both geographically and politically, into a centralized government.

 

Decentralization is the process of dispersing decision-making governance closer to the people or citizen. It includes the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or areas like engineering, management science, political science, political economy, sociology and economics. Decentralization is also possible in the dispersal of population and employment. Law, science and technological advancements lead to highly decentralized human endeavors. 

 

Alfred P. Slogan played and instrumental role in developing a model of central control of decentralized operations for General motors based on the following twin premises:

 

  1. The responsibility attached to the chief executive of each operation shall in no way be limited. Each such organization headed by its chief executive shall be complete in every necessary function and enabled to exercise its full initiative and logical development (Decentralization of operations)
  2. Certain central organization functions are absolutely essential to the logical development and proper coordination of the Corporation’s activities: Centralized staff services to advise the line on specialized phases of the work, and central measurement of results to check the exercise of delegated responsibility.

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MODERN (SYSTEM) VIEWPOINT-1

As a part of our talk on organizational design, development and change, we discussed on different topic like Classical Viewpoint, Dysfunctional Aspects, Administrative Theory, Scientific Management, Neoclassical View Point, and many aspects which are related to Organizations. Today we will discuss on Modern means System Viewpoint here.

 

Modern theories of organization and management have been developed largely since the 1930s. The perspective here is to provide a systems viewpoint. Among the several persons who contributed to the modern theory, it was perhaps Chester I. Bernard, who in 1938, provide a comprehensive explanation of the modern view of management and organization. He considered the individual, organization, suppliers and consumers as part of the environment. Ten years later, Weiner’s pioneering work on cybernetic developed concepts of systems control by information feedback. He described an adaptive system (including an organization) as mainly dependent upon measurement and correction through feedback. An organization is viewed as a system consisting of five parts: inputs, process, output, feedback and environment.

 

Since 1940s, researches and information theorists also looked at organizations in a Systems viewpoint. In 1956 Kenneth Bounding propounded General Systems Theory (GST).

 

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