Essay: Organizational Theory #2 What Core

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[. . .] Revolutionary change, therefore, can often mean providing something new to customers.

Three ways to implement revolutionary change are reengineering, restructuring, and innovation (Jones, 2010). Reengineering involves the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve improvements in critical measures of performance such as cost, quality, service and speed. Restructuring is a process by which managers change task and authority relationships and redesign organizational structure and culture to improve organizational effectiveness. It can involve tactics such as downsizing or leveraging technology to improve performance. Innovation is the process by which an organization uses its skills and resource to develop new goods and services or to develop new production and operating systems to better respond to the needs of customers. Innovation is one of the most difficult instruments of change to manage.


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

Shaner, D. (2011). Six Questions for Company Transformation. Industry Week, 260(3), 38-40.

5. What is the relationship between quantum and incremental technological change? Why are these types of change important to organizations?

Quantum technological change is a sudden and significant change that occurs in technology and improves products or changes the way they are produced. Often it is dynamic and forward thinking -- as much as 100 years before it's time (Hu & Wu, 2011). Quantum innovation often changes the business environment and can increase uncertainty because other organizations are forced to change the way they operate (Jones, 2010).

Incremental technological change involves gradual advances in levels of technological adaptation -- a refinement of some base technology. For instance, the first computers were quite large, expensive and required a great deal of expertise to operate. Today, nearly every home has an affordable, user-friendly, compact computer. Design progress was steady over time; as was adaptation into everyday life and business operations. Quantum technological change tends to set the stage for the dominant design. After that, the technology cycle shifts to an era of incremental change where firms compete to improve the original base technology (Jones, 2010).

Organizations gain a competitive advantage through the thoughtful adaptation and use of technology. Technology can impact business processes, product and service production, and customer service. Quantum technological change can produce a clear competitive edge, allowing a firm the opportunity to be the first to adopt a technology before competitors have a chance to catch on or catch up (Hu & Wu, 2011). Incremental innovation is effective if a company wishes to test a new product or business process before committing completely.


Hu, M., & Wu, C. (2011). Exploring technological innovation trajectories through latecomers: evidence from Taiwan's bicycle industry. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 23(4), 433-452. doi:10.1080/09537325.2011.558401.

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

6. How do cognitive biases affect organizational learning and the quality of decision making? What can be accomplished to reduce the negative impact?

Managers encounter problems when human judgment causes them to misinterpret or misperceive information, resulting in poor decision making. Cognitive biases are caused by systematic errors in the way decision makers' process information and make decisions (Jones, 2010). Sources of these errors include: frequency (extreme instances perceived as more prevalent than they really are); representativeness (small sample leads to generalizations); the illusion of control (overestimation of personal control); projection (justification of values and preferences by attributing them to others); and escalating commitment (refusal to admit mistakes, even when losing). All of these adversely impact organizational learning, culture and effective decision making (A language to discuss biases, 2010). .

Managers should undertake a personal decision audit to become aware of their biases, unlearn old ideas, and confront errors in their belief systems to improve decision making abilities (Jones, 2010). To counter cognitive biases and improve learning, managers can actively listen to diverse perspectives and opinions. Managers can also create learning opportunities by developing cross functional teams who work collectively to re-examine "old hat" routines and improve them. Experimenting is another strategy. Brainstorming and generating new alternatives and testing the validity of old ones can rejuvenate processes. Ultimately, combating biases is most effective when managers consult and value their employees' input (A language to discuss biases, 2010). Seeking consensus in decision making is often not a failing; rather it is a condition of success.


A language to discuss biases. (cover story). (2010). McKinsey Quarterly, (2), 44-45.

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

7. Define and explain the term authority, and discuss the bases of authority. How does authority differ from power? Explain how people or departments within organizations can gain power through control of resources and through solving key organizational problems.

Power refers to an ability to influence the outcome of events and resolve conflict. A person or group in power can overcome the resistance of others (Jones, 2010). Authority, on the other hand, is power that is legitimized by the legal and cultural foundations on which an organization is based. It is the socially acknowledged right to exercise judgment, make a decision, or take action (Greenwald, 2008). Most often it results from a social agreement to delegate power over defined areas in an organization or role. Power can often be exerted by force simply based on position or might; authority more often involves using personal influence to persuade others to take a certain course of action. Bases of authority include empowering subordinates, controlling access to information, controlling resources, and centralizing decision-making processes (Jones, 2010).

People or subunits within an organization can gain power through the control of resources, such as human skills, raw materials, capital and customers. The more critical the resource is to the bottom line of the business, the more power lies with those who possess or manage it. If no one else can perform a specific task, for example, the person or subunit with this expertise is considered nonsubstitutable and therefore holds a considerable amount of power (Jones, 2010). Similarly, those people or subunits that solve key organizational problems fall into an indispensible and powerful position. Their value and power rises as they become central to carrying out key processes and keeping the business moving forward.


Greenwald, H.P. (2008). Organizations: Management without Control. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

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

8. Explain how a subunit within an organization can acquire power or influence decision making in their favor.

A subunit within an organization can play organizational politics to acquire power or influence decision making in their favor. Organizational politics are those activities carried out within the organization to acquire, develop, and use power or resources to one's preferred outcomes (Jones, 2010). Tactics may include increasing indispensability, associating with powerful managers, building and managing coalitions, controlling important agendas, and bringing in outside experts.

Using power to play organizational politics can improve decision-making only if those in power can best serve the needs of the organization and have the best interest of the organization at heart (Jones, 2010). However, as pointed out by Terry & Hoefer, most organizations today are rife with disagreements over purpose and rationality due to an absence of system-wide objectives towards which all factions strive (1995). Thus, if senior managers, self-serving departments or eager… [END OF PREVIEW]

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