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.

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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 anage 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 performance evaluated, at a minimum, every quarter. The mechanistic organization is network of positions, and each position corresponds to a task. No person is identified by who they are, only by the title they posses. Employees work separately and specialize in one task. This makes it easier for supervisors to manage many personnel. A supervisor can easily manage many employees if they all are doing the same simple task, such as operating a drill press.

Working on an assembly line is an example of how each specialized task is defined. The employee on the assembly line has his station and performs the same task repeatedly. Promotions in a mechanistic organization are slow and steady, and are part of a mapped out plan of progression. In the Army, there are career and promotion trackers that explain the years expected at each rank, and the skills needed to progress. Status among members in the organization comes from one’s “empire”. The number of employees a manger of division head controls determines informal status.

The influence on culture, the values and norms a company adapts, comes from top, or is authority- based. Command and control is the cornerstone of the mechanistic structure. An organic structure is one that thrives on being able innovative, flexible, and empowering. Organic structures are put in place to be reactive in uncertain environment. The Information Technology (IT) industry is ever changing, and the organizations in this field need to be able to react and change quickly in order to survive. The dynamic environment causes decision making to be decentralized in organic structures.

This shows “a high level of emphasis on pushing decision-making authority down the hierarchy, so that downward communication may consist of advice, and upward communication may consist of reports of decisions made and outcomes”. (Hanges 353) If a product is rendered obsolete, due to a new technology, lower level managers and their employees can assess the situation and make changes. This decentralization of authority makes it possible for companies such as Apple and Dell to stay on the cutting edge of technology and maintain a competitive advantage.

Organic structures have a high differentiation of tasks. People that possess the skill set to do a multitude of tasks, usually referring to experts, give the organization flexibility to accomplish tasks. Such experts include physicians, scientists, accountants, and brokers. In addition, the need for integration is vital in order to make quick and well thought out decisions. Many different departments and divisions must be able to congregate, discuss, and agree with alacrity. “When tasks change rapidly, it is unfeasible to institute standardization and formalized procedures.

Instead, tasks should be mutually adjusted, so that each subtask is balanced with other subtasks. ” (Burns) Rules established in an organic organization need to be living documents that can be modified change with the times. The organic organization human characteristic is one of empowerment, self-management, and competence. The employee of an organic organization is usually put in to a team of specialists to create value or solve a problem. Top management will give some guidance and advice, but the strategy applied and the decision making process will be left to the team.

A team of scientists and doctors may be put together in a self-managed work group, in order to come up with a new drug or work on a cure for a disease. The decisions made to accomplish the tasks, and subsequent sub-tasks are the responsibility of the group. A high level of organizational skills must be present in all of the individuals who work in these groups in order to succeed. Computer programmers, assigned to design or improve an existing way to keep their company’s software compatible with new platforms, must know how to manage time and resources.

Employees who have problems working with others, or lack or organizational skills, will not apply enough time and energy to their product, resulting in subpar results. Rules are made, changed, and modified by the work teams. The flexibility of the guidelines that they place on themselves can be changed at anytime to increase productivity and creativity. If a graphic designs team realizes that they are most creative in the evening hours, they may decided to switch to working at night. In organic structures, the emphasis is placed on the expert knowledge of its personnel.

In addition, the organization will only go as far as these experts will take them. The job is not so much defined as a role as it is a specialty. In the dispute between Mattel and Bratz, the lead designer for the Bratz doll was a former Mattel employee. His expert knowledge helped an upstart company outsell his former employer. The roles of the employees are also non-defined. While assigned to a group an employee will responsible for a variety of tasks within the group, also known as cross training.

A team of doctors, with different specialties, will constantly learn each other’s specialty in order to learn how to tend to patience better. Promotions and rewards are earned based on being creative and innovative. A computer programmer who pioneers a new technology that becomes successful will move up quick in an organic structure. Regardless of seniority, the people who are the most creative and innovative progress quicker. In an organic structure, the employee has more power over their performance, but with that, they have more responsibility. Individuals who are attracted to, join, and remain with organic organizations likely have preferences for working in organizations with organic practices, and they likely share values favoring more fluid and less structured organizational forms. ” (Hanges 354) Even tough mechanistic and organic structures seem vastly different when looking at them, there are similarities. The similarities are found in the processes of creating a successful organization that creates wealth for its shareholders. The culture of an organization is its shared values and norms.

In both structures, setting up an effective culture that breeds hard working individuals that perform on a high level consistently is very important. ” In fact, organizational culture is not just an important factor of an organization; it is the central driver of superior business performance. ” (Yusof 27) “A company’s culture influences everything a company does. It is the core of what the company is really like, how it operates, what it focuses on, and how it treats customers, employees, and shareholders. ” (Yusof 27) Regardless of what structure is in place, this is one element that both structures deem as important.

Innovation is the introducing of a new method, design, or conception that can create value. All organizations are constantly looking for ways to innovate, whether internally or externally. A fruit canning plant’s senior level managers looking for a way to increase production and lower costs through new process is innovative. Finding a new medication that cures cancer is innovative. “The goal in the discovery phase is the development of a broad problem statement. ” (Bacon 51) Organizations that focus on innovation will grow and broaden their scope operation.

Strategy is a plan or method for attaining a goal. No matter what the product or service provided by the organization, the strategy employed by management will determine how well people and resources are utilized. The core competencies of the managers that put these strategies in places will ultimately determine how successful an organization turns out to be. “To sustain and reinvent our organizations, we need people with charisma and authority to lead in difficult times. We need a special team of people to master, drive and implement change at a strategic and tactical level on a day-to-day basis. (Atkinson 43) Performance of employees and processes put in place by an organization will be a significant factor in how both structures fair in a competitive environment. An organization in, any field, will want to continually evaluate how efficient or functional a task or team is. To keep costs and quality at their optimum levels, these entities have to perform at high level. In addition, standards of performance measurement must be put in place, to evaluate correctly, how well an organization is executing. Leadership is an element to achieving success that both organizational structures must have.

This has to be present or else any organization, no matter how successful, will fail. The leadership abilities by top management have to be adaptive and responsive to the internal and external factors that affect their organization. They cannot let complacency or opportunities to grow and advance happen. “Leaders affect the performance of organizations. ” “Studies have estimated the effect of executive leaders to be as high as 20% to 45%”. (Hogan 103) Through effective leadership, communication is a need for all organization and is paramount in dealing with employees, shareholders and stakeholders.

Employees should know factors that can affect their jobs, advancement, and morale. Shareholders need to be informed of what the organization is doing to make them a profit. Stakeholders require communication to express to them why they should associate with your organization. Communication serves as the voice of an organization. Organizations with effective communication skills can control their message, stay ahead of rumors, and are proactive with interactions among the various groups tied to them.

Ineffective communications skills will harbor a reactive environment, where the organization will let outside entities will control the message. This leads to an organization constantly defending itself. “Of all the principles of supervisory management, communications is the most important and should be featured at all levels. In today’s business world there is really no valid excuse for lack of communications or poor communications”. (Belohov 58) Finally, talent management serves as a key element both types of structures must deal with effectively.

Getting the best people possible into an organization is a commonly shared aspiration of organizations. However, just because an organization recruits the best and brightest does not mean they will automatically be successful. The ability to keep the talent motivated, engaged, and interested in moving the business in the right direction takes high-quality management. Regardless of the ability of an individual or group, the lack of ability to put them in a position where they can create value for an organization is self-destructing. There are tangible and intangible benefits of focusing on the right programs.

For organizations like PSU, better assimilation of people into the workforce culture is critical. Higher job performance and productivity can be seen; the organization is able to recruit, develop, and retain individuals; and ultimately the greatest testimonial to a focus on talent is that the organization is profitable and has a solid position relative to competitors in the marketplace for its products and services. (Berk 45) The contrast between mechanistic and organic structures can be made with the same concepts and elements that were made to compare them.

Where this contrast lies is in the methods used by the structures and the values placed on certain aspects of these elements. Culture of a mechanistic structure is one of rules, direction, and standards. The organization wants it employees to be loyal and obedient. They want the workers to have faith in the system and strive to move up the ranks. Organic structures want a culture of self-motivation and drive. This structure wants the culture to be about the people, and how by communicating and working together can move the company forward.

The culture of an organization ties in with how innovation takes place in these different structures. With mechanistic structures being about workers doing one task, and a series of these tasks equaling a product, the innovative direction is focused on process. An inward look is focused upon to determine if there is a way to improve efficiency. UPS is a good example of this inward innovation. Something as simple as putting a key ring in a certain hand, on a certain finger cuts down on delivery times. In contrast, the organic structure wants their innovation to come from the products they produce.

A consulting firm wants to be able to create new ways and ideas of how to generate income for their clients. If the consulting firm develops a new strategy on how to invest in the stock market, which makes their clients profit, their goal of innovation was successful. This difference in concept leads directly to the measure of performance by the two structures. The performance of the mechanistic structure is how an individual works within the system. Employees who turn out higher numbers or spend less money are usually rewarded.

Meeting or exceeding a set quota goes on along these lines. In organic organizations, performance is all about value created. It is not as important to come up with a plethora of ideas, as it is to come up with an idea or product that will make money. A computer programmer is not judged on the number of improvements he makes, but how many of those improvements will make his company more valuable. Performance of an organization can be directly correlated to its leadership. Leadership in a mechanistic organization is direct and flows vertically down the chain.

All decisions and changes come from the top, and it is important that high-level executives have a grasp of the impacts these choices will make on the organization as a whole. Leadership also goes hand and hand with communication. This top down communication must some avenue for feedback. Employees in a mechanistic structure except the authority, but do not want to feel owned by it. Organic leadership is a less authoritive, but still needs to be present. Handling individuals who have expert knowledge can be a challenge, but guidance and boundaries need to be set.

Leadership’s goal is to present a problem, assign a team to that problem, let the team handle and solve the problem, and report results. With a less formalized structure, communication is a necessity. Integration of different teams and division are a common place in these organizations. Even within a single group assigned to an issue, constant and productive communication is essential. Having fewer bosses means in order to solve problem, lateral communication is key. Managing talent is the finally area of contrast. The difference is with what the employees of the structures want.

Mechanistic organization employees what job security, chances for advancement, and notification of significant events. While organic employees want to be with the best organizations, job satisfaction and the ability to effect the direction of the company through use of their skills. Mechanistic and organic structures are two types of structures used by organizations to help grow and strengthen their businesses. Though they vary in the ways of implementation, they share the basic elements to achieve profitability. The structure used will depend on the product or output that specific organization wants to market.

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