Essay: Organizational Theory #1 Create

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[. . .] Unity and balance can come from the right combination of differentiation and integration of the organization's operations. Subdivisions and functional departments each concentrate on a particular aspect of the business and therefore must be coordinated to produce a formal structure. Mechanistic structures are designed to cause people to behave in predictable ways. Organic structures promote flexibility and quick responses to changing conditions. To be successful organization must strike a balance between these two (Jones, 2010).

Differentiation is not limited to large organizations, but it can play a more important role in larger organizations because of their complexity. Ultimately, differentiation is good for any organization since it defines roles and tasks. Integration pertains to the overall coordination of those tasks to reach company objectives. Span of control -- a military reference often applied to business -- refers to the number of employees that a manager or supervisor can effectively handle. It affects organizational design in a variety of ways, including speed of communication flow, employee motivation, reporting relationships, and administrative overhead (Davison, 2003).

Span of control can be influenced by a variety of factors: job complexity (the more complicated and dynamic subordinate jobs tend to require more management involvement and a narrower span of management); similarity of subordinate jobs (the more similar and routine the tasks of subordinates, the wider the span of management can be); location of subordinates (geographically dispersed subordinates may result in a narrower span of management to maintain control); employee ability (managers must offer more assistance to employees who need more skill development or motivation); the abilities of the manager (competent managers who communicate effectively and well-organized can function with a wider span of management); and technology (instant chat, email, and other advanced technical tools make it possible for managers to increase their spans of management) [Davison, 2003].

Wider spans of control are ideal in that they help reduce costs, speed decision making, increase flexibility and empower employees (Jones, 2010). However, to avoid potential problems due to more lax managerial control, organizations must invest in training managers and employees and in technology enabling the sharing of information, and enhancing communication between and among managers and employees (Davison, 2003).


Davison, B. (2003). "Management Span of Control: How Wide Is Too Wide?" Journal of Business Strategy. 24: 229.

Jones, G. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

6. Explain the concepts of empowerment, self-managed teams, and cross-functional teams, and develop an essay that argues for their inclusion in either a tall or flat organizational structure.

Empowerment is a process that enables a person to make an independent decision and be responsible for its outcome (Jones, 2010). It allows for freedom of choice and action. Self-managed teams are authorized to make their own decisions relating to their work and contribution in the organization. Most have a designated leader or point person that spearheads and coordinates the efforts of the group, supports team members, and communicates the groups output to senior management (Carton & Cummings, 2012). . Team leaders also work to ensure the team has all the resources and information required to carry out objectives. Cross-functional teams are those who members work across the boundaries of their own department on a permanent or temporary basis in the organization. These teams are created to perform some specific task or objective in the organization and can span several functions or departments.

Tall organizational structures have multiple levels between the customers and CEO of the company; conversely, flat organizational structures are comprised of fewer hierarchal levels and have wider spans of control. The flat organizational structure supports cross-functional and self-managed teams well -- their very nature emphasizes personal motivation and teamwork (Page, 2002). The autonomy and flexibility in decision making afforded cross-functional and self-managed teams allows them to focus on core strengths in creative and innovative ways, and approach specialized tasks effectively (Jones, 2010). In flat organization, these teams also tend to be more adaptable to evolving or unexpected circumstances, due to their smaller hierarchies and lack of bureaucratic red-tape.


Carton, A.M., & Cummings, J.N. (2012). A Theory of Subgroups in Work Teams. Academy of Management Review, 37(3), 441-470.

Jones, G. (2010). Organizational theory, design, and change (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Page, S. (2002). Best Practices in Policies and Procedures. USA: Process Improvement Publishing.

7. Describe past and current experiences with organizational culture. Be as specific as possible and support your comments with examples.

The organizational culture of one of my last positions (this section requires personalization) was one of change. The company hoped to not only achieve, but surpass, all of its major objectives. There were many departments and an institutional task force with a set annual mission to achieve carefully selected organizational goals. In order to accomplish this, the organization would ask employees to share their thoughts and suggestions on ways to improve and streamline processes. Every employee was offered a chance to have a voice in the direction of the organization, which lead to more creative solutions to common challenges (Watkins, 2012).

The organization was also going through a major restructuring that it hoped would help it regain control of its operations and finances in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. Changes were communicated regularly so that all employees were kept in the loop regarding the direction of the company and how their role and department would be impacted. In addition, the organizational culture was based on the idea that self-motivated individuals will work harder if tactics such as micromanaging are not used. The flat structure of the company allowed it to grow and react more quickly to changes than its competitors. The reason for the quick responsiveness can be attributed to the fact that projects only required a few approvals; teams and departments were empowered with their own budgets and decision-making ability. Corporate headquarters made company policy and set ethical standards, but employees made the day-to-day decisions.


Watkins, M.D. (2012). How Managers Become Leaders. Harvard Business Review, 90(6), 64-72.

8. Should an organization always adopt a broad stance on social responsibility? Explain how you agree or disagree with this question and why you have this perspective.

Social responsibility should be embedded into the business model of all organizations because it impacts every member of society and the world we live in. While the general goal of a business is to make money, there are larger concerns that deserve consideration -- such as how products are made, how company waste is disposed, or how communities are impacted by a company's direct and/or indirect business practices (Jones, 2010). For instance, if a company uses a supplier that has been cited for in-humane working conditions, sweat shops or child labor, this may be deemed by customers as supporting such practices. This offends the morals, values and personal convictions of the public and the company will be viewed as caring more about monetary gain than their role in global society.

Corporate Social Responsibility refers to operating a business in a manner that accounts for the social and environmental impact created by the business (Jones, 2010). It means a commitment to developing policies that integrate responsible practices into daily business operations, and to reporting on progress made toward implementing these practices (Beauchamp & O'Connor, 2012). Companies engaged in philanthropic work, work to address societal ills, or support of worthy causes, contribute to the betterment of society and draw the attention of customers. They also inspire… [END OF PREVIEW]

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