Determining an Organization’s Configuration: Mintzberg Organizations

Determining an Organization’s Configuration: Mintzberg Organizations

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A society of organizations is one in which organizations enter our lives as influential forces in a great many ways — in how we work, what we eat, how we get educated and cured of our illnesses, how we get entertained, and how our ideas are shaped’ (Henry Mintzberg 1989)

Organizational structure is one of the three key organizational assets that could contribute to the effectiveness of operations of any organization (Zheng, Yan and Mclean 2009) It is joined together by different flows of information, decision processes, hierarchy of authority, specialization and working materials. (Enz 2009; Mintzberg 1980) Furthermore, it also determines the operating workflow, control of information, decision-making in the organization and the line authority (Mintzberg 1980). The facets of the organizational structure, the relationships that exist within it, and how the business processes (Bititci et al 2011) are controlled, determine the managerial style that should be utilized in addition to the strategies the organization could implement. Going further, a company’s organizational design and the parts that constitute it are seen as a contributing factor to superior performance, which ultimately provide an organization with competitive advantage over its competitors. (Enz 2009; Zheng, Yang, and Mclean 2009)

Determining an organization’s configuration is not a clear science and it is certainly not an end in itself but studying its design through its configurations and the mechanisms that exist in it could present us with interesting information about them. This journal will be focusing on illustrating how the organizational design of Four Points Darling Harbour (FPDH) and ultimately the housekeeping department and its facets influence the processes and the relationships that may ultimately shape an intern’s experiences, activities and relationships with other colleagues. A critical analysis and introspection on the intern’s experiences and discoveries in the hotel using the organizational design types as a framework may provide me with some insights on the processes and relationships that exist in FPDH. This consequentially, may provide me with additional information to further examine my professional and personal progression halfway through the industry experience which may influence my actions towards the latter part of HIE.


Four Points Organizational Structure

Mintzberg in his 1980 book referred to an organizational chart as an “Organigram” (p.36). It is an essential part of an associates’ induction FPDH as it provides a snapshot of the lines of authority, division of labor, the operating workflow, and the type of communication utilized by the hotel.

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The FPDH Hotel Organizational chart is depicted below (see Figure 1 and 2)

Figure 1. Hotel Executive Committee

Figure 2. Hotel Organizational Chart (Operations)


Mintzberg presented five basic configurations that could serve as an analytical tool into the organizational design of the hotel to better understand how the operation flows and how it could affect my experience as an intern. There are several contingency factors such as age and size, technical system, environment and power that help define which structure the hotel utilizes furthermore, these same factors help determine what configuration is being utilized at different levels of an organization. (Mintzberg 1980) At first glance, one might deduce, that there is one configuration that defines Four Points Darling Harbour but in reality and upon analysis the hotel utilizes a mixture of several configurations. Utilizing Henry Mintzberg’s paradigm (1980) the rationale behind this observation is summarized below



The Organigram of my department is depicted in figure 3

Figure 3. Housekeeping Department Organizational Chart
The housekeeping department of our hotel is semi autonomous. In conjunction with the company goals and targets it also has its own objectives, procedures, performance measurement systems and targets. Its managers make functional and operational decisions regarding the department in coordination with the hotel and general manager. Upon studying the department’s Organigram, the strategic apex compose of the executive and assistant managers. The middle line is composed of the housekeeping coordinators. The operating core, which is the major part of the department, is composed of five different areas with different specific functional tasks in the department (refer to Figure 3).

By identifying which structure the hotel utilizes, I was able to understand how operations generally flow through the hotel and more specifically through my department. This would be a nice starting point as in the subsequent parts I will discuss in detail aspects of each part and how they function as seen through my observations and upon inquiry furthermore, these will all be related to my experiences as an intern.

Elements of the Housekeeping department Structure
The different configurations discussed in the previous section use different coordinating mechanisms, which can be utilized by the different parts of an organization. The coordinating mechanisms ensure that there is division of labor of and coordination of tasks relating to the organization’s mission furthermore they ensure that the tasks are accomplished in unison to a company’s goals, targets and missions. The different parts of an organization according Mintzberg are depicted in Figure 4. Each part plays a crucial role in the operations and management (Mintzberg 1980) of hotels and its different departments.

Figure 4. Mintzberg Basic Parts of an Organization (Mintzberg 1980)
The FPDH Housekeeping department’s functional and hierarchical structure is depicted in Figure 5. As mentioned in the previous section, the strategic apex is composed of the executive housekeeper and the two assistant managers. These three key people that the departmental goals and targets in conjunction with the hotel’s mission are being met. Upon observation, they are responsible for analyzing some of the performance measurement systems regarding operations. They evaluate results and establish new standards for implementation by the associates under their department. In the middle line are the 5 coordinators which have been delegated a formal authority linking the managers (strategic apex) and the operating core. They are responsible for handling operational and functional matters relating to the operational core. They make sure the operating core practices the standards set by the strategic apex. The main bulk of the department is the operating core composed of five different functions. The support staff for the department would be engineering, front office, security, solutions food, concierge, food and beverage. They provide support indirectly to support our department’s operations. Techno structure would include IT, human resource, finance, reservations they affect our operations by designing and planning systems and procedures that the department may utilize in their daily operations. (Mintzberg 1980)


Figure 5. Four Points Housekeeping Department structure

Managerial Implications of the Housekeeping department Structure

The structuring of the housekeeping department provides a vast source of information into the managerial processes and other operations that transpire in it. Through an analysis of the different parts and different levels of the department it was deduced that each of the part and level would require different managerial skills moreover, people at different levels of the department utilize different type of coordinating mechanisms depending on their purpose. (Bititci et al 2011; Mum ford, Campion & Morgeson 2007) On the flipside the structuring of an organization could pose problems for operations as well. (Mintzberg 1980; Frost & Kumar 2000; Uran 2010)

Managing a dynamic department such as the housekeeping department requires different skills. This is due the fact that as one proceeds to go up the hierarchy one should acquire additional skills in order to handle tasks assigned to them. An adaptation of Bititci et AL’s managerial process is depicted in Figure 6 to showcase some of the tasks that managers undertake

Figure 6.Managerial Processes adapted from (Bititci et al 2011)

Figure 6 accentuates that complexity of managing the department, which is cumulative as one goes up the hierarchy. Upon progressing in our department, I have noticed that different skills are required as one proceeds to different levels of an organization moreover; the different parts of the housekeeping department require diverse skills depending on their responsibilities (Mumford, Campion & Morgeson 2007). Tonidandel, Bradley and Fleenor (2012 p.637) support the idea the organizational level is significant moderator and predictor of organizational effectiveness. Applying the skills Strataplex (refer to Figure 7) and Mintzberg managerial roles (2009) as a paradigm I noticed that the four skills supported by the authors mentioned beforehand are important in every level.


Figure 7. Leadership Skills Requirements Strataplex (Mumford, Campion & Morgeson 2007)

(Mumford Campion & Morgeson 2007; Mintzberg 2009; Quinn 2011)


At the entry managerial levels, cognitive and interpersonal skills are important as you deal with the operating core. It slowly diminishes as one proceeds to the next level due to the fact that you deal with less and less people. Leadership skills are important for the entry-level (junior level) in order to motivate the operating core. It is also noticeable that strategic and business kills are gaining importance as one reaches middle management. This is due to the fact that as managers move up the hierarchy they are required to do some goal setting, environmental scanning, resource allocation, planning and productivity analysis which is not necessarily done when one starts managing. (Mumford Campion & Morgeson 2007; Mintzberg 2009) Strategic skills are important for the strategic apex and sometimes to higher middle management.
Organizational communication is essential to any organization according to Ritter (Hooff and Ridder 2004) even proponents of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement acknowledges the fact that the levels of focus of their key ideas occur where communication transpires. (Deery & Jago 2008) There are different types (refer to Figure 8) and methods of coordination (Mintzberg 1980) being utilized to in management of organizations.

Figure 8.Types of Organizational Communication (Spaho 2013)

Downward communication is apparent during meetings the managers inform those under their jurisdiction the number of arrivals and departures. They inform the middle-line operating core any changes in standards set. Upward communication happens through suggestion boxes at the office, early morning briefings and the recent concluded Starvoice employee survey. Although several coordinators are assigned different tasks and roles for the day they must horizontally communicate with other coordinators during operations as well to ensure uniformity.


Different parts of the Mintzberg structure prefer different coordinating mechanisms. (Mintzberg 1980) People on the same level usually employ mutual adjustment is usually practiced by for example when a houseman communicated with other housemen or room attendants. Trainers directly supervise Interns and new associates on their initial days into the department. Coordinators supervise room attendants servicing VIP and LRA rooms to ensure quality. Standardization of work processes happens through assignment of rooms and instructions on inclusions to room attendants. Imposition of performance measures by the managers, usually at the strategic apex, concerning the productivity of the department utilizes standardization if outputs.


Mintzberg also noted that each part of the structure has a different focus due to the fact that the have dissimilar targets and goals. These are tensions that may affect how the department functions if not managed properly. (Refer to Figure 9) The strategic apex of the department emphasizes on standardization of work processes through procedures enforced on the department such as releasing of rooms and lost property handling which is typical of a machine bureaucracy. Like in a professional bureaucracy, the operating core wants to minimize influence of managers so they would not feel constricted while servicing rooms. The middle-line’s pull is typical of a Divisionalized form each department or division is given autonomy to handle the affairs of the their individual department as they see fit. This is evident in the different responsibilities and of the coordinators (opening, desk, checking of VIP, rostering) they are given semi-autonomy to perform their specific roles without having to report every decision to their managers. (Mintzberg 1980; Sherwin 2014)



Figure 9. Organizational Pulls (Mintzberg 1980)






Works Cited

Bititci, US, Ackermann, F, Ates, A, Davies, J, Garengo, P, Gibb, S, et al 2011, Managerial processes: business process that sustain performance, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 2011, Vol.31(8), p.851-891.

Deery, M & Jago, L 2008, Organisational communication in the hospitality industry: critical issues-Chapter 9, Handbook of Hospitality Human Resources Management Pages 177–193


Enz, C 2009, Hospitality strategic management : concepts and cases, 2nd edn, J. Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.

Frost, FA & Kumar, M 2000, INTSERVQUAL – an internal adaptation of the GAP model in a large Service Organization Journal of Services Marketing, 2000, Vol.14(5), p.358-377.

Hooff, BV & Ridder, JA 2004, Knowledge sharing in context: the influence of organizational commitment, communication climate and CMC use on knowledge sharing, Journal of Knowledge Management, 2004, Vol.8(6), p.117-130.


Mintzberg, H 1980, Structure in 5's: A Synthesis of the Research on Organization Design, Management Science, Vol.26 No.3,USA.

Mintzberg, H 1989, Mintzberg on Management : Inside our Strange World of Organizations, Free Press ; Collier Macmillan, New York : London.

Mintzberg, H 2009, Managing, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, California.

Mumford, TV, Campion, MA, and Morgeson, FP 2007, ‘The leadership skills strataplex:
leadership skill requirements across organizational levels, Leadership Quarterly, Vol. 18‘
No. 2, pp. 154-166.

Quinn, RE 2011, Becoming a master manager : a competing values approach, Hoboken, NJ : Wiley, Hoboken NJ.

Sherwin, L, http://www.lindsay-sherwin.co.uk/guide_managing_change/html_overview/01_types_of_change.html, viewed March 28, 2014.


Spaho, K 2013 'Organizational communication and conflict management', Management - Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, Management - Journal of Contemporary Management Issues, 2013, Issue 1 (18).

Tonidandel, S, Braddy, PW & Fleenor, JW 2012, Relative importance of managerial skills for predicting effectiveness, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 2012, Vol.27(6), p.636-655.

Uran, M 2010 'The organisational gap model for hotel management', Managing global transitions: international research journal, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 405-422.

Zheng, W, Yang, B & Mclean, GN 2010 'Linking organizational culture, structure, strategy, and organizational effectiveness: Mediating role of knowledge management', Journal of Business Research, vol. 63, no. 7, pp. 763-771

Competing Values Skills assessment http://www.wiley.com/college/quinn/047136178X/survey/skl_asmt.html, viewed February 20,2014
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