Organization Structures

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Organization Structures

The mechanistic view of an organization began with the industrial revolution. The view is a reflection of society's radical change from a rural agricultural base to one more impersonally based on centralized urban industry employing great numbers of people. The first changes began in the late 1600's and early 1700's with rudimentary machines replacing manual labor or accomplishing things not previously possible because of size, weight, or sheer numbers. The greatest industrial growth was during the 1800's period, which was exponential at its end and the outset of our century.

The view and metaphorical analogy of an organization as a machine was the result of the only frame of reference available at that time, and is anchored in the conditions then prevalent, large numbers of un- or semi-educated people aggregating into centers clustered around factories. When the view is combined with what business organizations are designed to do -- take raw materials and convert them as quickly and efficiently as possible into commercial products that will make a profit -- the comparison of organization to machine is easily made and readily apparent. As in the new machines available during the industrial revolution, organizations can be seen as composed of many "parts" which are the individual people and/or business departments (milling, stamping, forging, assembly, etc.). Any of which can be changed, modified, or replaced individually or totally.

The hierarchical, pyramidal representation also coincides with the machine where one part is crucial (power source), diffusing downward through power shafts which turn various wheels (departments) with many cogs (people) that produce something. The metaphor of ...

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...nd technology. Strategy affects organization design in that structure should change as an organization's strategy changes. Size affects organization design because as organizations grow, they tend to become more formalized and bureaucratic. Finally, technology affects organization design because the production process should fit with the type of organization structure in order to be effective.


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