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"Nothing truly general can be said about aggregate regularities until it has been made clear how far they remain invariant with organizational differences at the micro level." (Torsten Hägerstrand, Lund)

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What is an "Organization?

  • "A group of persons with a common objective" (Neoclassical)

  • "A structured process in which individuals interact for objectives" (Hicks, Management of Organizations, p.23)

  • "A structure of relationships, power, objectives, roles, activities, communications and other factors that exist when persons work together" (Classical amalgamism)

  • "A dynamic social system of cooperative interactions with the purpose of satisfying individual needs" (Chaster Barnard, 1938; = transition between neoclassical and modern; accommodating formal and informal aspects of organizations)

  • "A set of social relations deliberately created, with the explicit intention of continuously accomplishing some specific goals or purposes" (Stinchcombe, in J.March, ed., Handbook of Organizations, 1964, p.142.)

  • "A system of structural interpersonal relations ... (within which) ... individuals are differentiated in terms of authority, status, and role with the result that personal interaction is prescribed... Anticipated reactions tend to occur, while ambiguity and spontaneity are decreased" (R.V. Presthus)

  • "A system consisting generally of inputs, process, outputs, feedback, and environment" (Norbert Wiener's cybernetic interpretation of organization)

  • "A set of interlocked activities under unified control" (Pfeffer & Salancik)

  • "Every organized human activity -- from the making of pots to the placing of a man on the moon -- gives rise to two fundamental and opposing requirements: The division of labor into various tasks to be performed, and the coordination of these tasks to accomplish the activity" (Mintzberg, 1983)

  • "The most effective organizations achieve a degree of differentiation and integration in organizational boundary-spanning functions which is compatible with environmental demands" (Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967)

  • "Formal organization: "The goals to be achieved, the rules the members of the organization are expected to follow, and the status structure that defines the relations between them have not been spontaneously emerged in the course of social interaction but have been consciously designed a priori to anticipate and guide interaction and activities" (Blau & Scott, Formal Organization, 1962, p.5)

  • "One characteristic which distinguishes organizations from other collections of people is a commitment to achieving members' goals by means of an explicit and stable structure of task allocations, roles, and responsibilities. Mobs and informal groups are not organizations. Social and service clubs, like Rotary and Kiwanis, are organizations only part of the time. However, as long as one is concerned with organizational behavior and not with social behavior in general, one should emphasize the modes of behavior in which organizations specialize" (W.H. Starbuck, 1965)

  • "Different types of organizational structure are suitable for particular environmental conditions. An organization with well-defined tasks and a rigidly hierarchical system of decision-taking is argued to be appropriate for stable environmental conditions. Where the environment is changing, an organic form of organizational structure is deemed more appropriate, in which tasks are flexibly defined and participants cooperate on the basis of expertise and not on hierarchical positions" (=contingency view; Burns and Stalker, 1961)

Are Organizations Losing Their Distinctiveness? Organizational Flexibilities & the Reshaping or Organizational Structures: Three Voices:

  1. Alvin Toeffler: Future Shock, 1970, Ch.7: "Organizations: The Coming Ad-Hocracy."

    "Organizations now change their internal shape with a frequency -- and sometime a rashness -- that makes the head swim. Titles changes from week to week. Jobs are transformed. Responsibilities shift. Vast organizational structures are taken apart , bolted together again in new forms, then rearranged again. Departments and divisions spring up overnight only to vanish in another, and yet another, reorganization..." (p.128)

    "Project organization is widespread in the aerospace industry...Proposal-writing teams often work together for a few weeks... When the contract is won, new team are successively eastablsihed for the development, and, ultimately production of the goods required... Task forces and other ad-hoc groups are now proliferating throughout the government and business bureaucracies..." (p.134)

  2. Another set of quotes (Benjamin Singer, "Organizational Communication and Social Disassembly: An Essay on Electronic Anomie," in: Lee Thayer, ed., Organization -- Communication [HD31 O727 1986 vol.1]

    Rather than generating centralization or decentralization, the new organizational media show signs of a kind of "social disessembly" of organizations, of the breakdown of social organization as we know it, carrying with it a dissolution of the authority based upon it.... [organizations] lose their distinctiveness; the borders separating organization from organization, organization from non-organization, dissolve.... we are witnessing a breakdown of boundaries within and between organizations, bred by omni-interconnectivity and by the speed of the new media... (p.222)

  3. Bill Gates, Business @ The Speed of Thought. 1999. Ch.8: "Change in the Boundaries of Business," pp.133ff.

    A corporation can use the Internet to work seamlessly with professionals such as lawyers and accountants who remain "outside" the corporate walls as consultants rather than company employees... companies should focus on their core competencies... Despite the emergence of new, flexible boundaries, big companies won't deconstruct themselves into per-project production companies. Companies need to excel in consistent in-house execution of their core competencies.... they'll just use technology to do it more efficiently. Every company will experiment to find its optimal size and organizational structure...


Survey looks at job-hopping execs Organizational change cited as big reason Seattle PI, November 4, 2002; By DIANE E. LEWIS [THE BOSTON GLOBE]

Of those polled, 81 percent said they left their previous position and were looking for new work because of an organizational change such as a merger, restructuring, layoff or acquisition. Only 2 percent were dismissed because of performance. In several countries, plant closings accounted for many of the job losses respondents experienced in 2001, the study found


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