Organisational structure is the framework which guides an organisation, and its purpose is to achieve organisational goals. Organisational structures are influenced by various elements and these include the age of the organisation, the size, and the environment in which it operates, technological systems available, and the external constraints. Organisational structure delineates how the organisation is managed; power distributed, tasks and responsibilities organised, coordinated and carried out and the mechanisms used. The structure either integrates or differentiates the organisational work systematically. There is no one ideal structure to suggest which would best serve an organisation better than another. Each organisation needs to identify what works best for them in achieving their goals (Clayton, Fisher, Bateman, Brown & Harris, 2005).
The organisation which has been analysed is an old, large in size and well equipped with technological advancements. It is organic in nature with a flat management order (Appendix 1). The environment within which it operates is dynamic with a rapidly growing population with diverse cultures and needs. The organisation is subjected to a large number of external controls from various government bodies requiring compliance on a daily basis. These types of organisations believed to have more formalised work with a bureaucratic structures (Bowman&Deal, ). Although this organisation is old and large in size with over a thousand of employees, it has a structure which includes both integration and differentiation, at times it is both mechanistic and organic .
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The organisation's power distribution and the delegation of authority is carried out by integration. The structure uses a number of mechanisms to coordinate, and to regulate organisational work. It coordinates work through formalisation of policies, procedures and by having regular meetings, feild visits with staff members to promote work behaviours. Policies and procedures are in to use as a guide to avoid conflicts and confusion. However, flexibility exists where staff are able to make decisions on the contrary to policies and procedures, as long as it is at the best interest of the organisational outcome.
The relationships between the different positions and the responsibilities of various positions are identified in the structure. The organisation follows a decentralised model where the power to make decisions is a shared responsibility. Decision making at any stage is a collaborative process. It is not done by any individual alone. Any employee has a say in making decisions which affect them. Decisions are made through collaborative communication process between the management and the employee. However, with regards to certain matters at the exhaustion all collaborative process, the final decision making rest on the head of the organisation. Decisions affecting the organisation too are collaborated among the relevant staff members. As an example, change to an existing policy would not be decided by the upper line management without consulting each and every employee within their managerial division. Policy reviews will be sent to all the employees, employees have the opportunity to engage in suggesting changes. Although it is time consuming, this process ensures that the participation of the employees are valued, and promotes a culture that employees feel that they are part of the organisation.
The organisation has a broad span of control with few levels of hierarchy. It has General Manager who is at the very top of the structure. Then there are four directors responsible for four divisions. Each division is clustered into groups with similar work dimensions. Under each director, there are sub divisions. The structural design indicates that the supervisors are responsible for large number of employees. For example, a Children's Services Liaison officer is responsible for eight early childhood services, approximately responsible for eighty to ninety employees. Within each setting there are also eight supervisors who share the responsibility of managing and guiding the employees. Dispersion of employees based on qualification too is similar in all settings. The physical environments and the tasks performed are similar in nature. Often the raining of employees too are similar and operating procedures are standard across all settings. The standardisation of the work routines and expectations makes it possible to have a wide span of control. Employees are familiar with work expectations and able to predict what needs to follow with regards to required work. Each setting consists of staff teams where they are able to discuss and make decisions which are relevant to their immediate setting. When people are part of the decision making process, they feel empowered function independently without someone needing to supervise them. Flatter organisational structures enable employees to make decision themselves without going through a number of management levels.
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In mechanistic structures, formalisation is higher, span of control is narrow, change is not possible and centralisation is high. In organic organisations, formalisation is low, span of control is wide, low centralisation and change is not hard.
Recent understanding is that the environments have a major influence on organisational structures.
Departmentalisation of the work into divisions allows the organisation to establish work teams and to monitor the effectiveness of the structure. Through the implementation of human resource management, the organisation is able to be resourceful in promoting a learning culture among the employees. As an example, the organisation encourages employee participation in a number of training which effect both the individual and the organisation. Employees have the opportunity to request for a particular training both internally or externally. If the training deemed necessary is not offered internally, the employee is able to formally request the organisation to grant permission to attend the training out side the organisation. If the training outcome have positive impact on promoting organisational goals, the employee is able to attend the training during the work hours. Not only the training fees will be paid by the organisation, the employee will be replaced by a relieving staff member so that his or her normal duties will be carried out without interruption. The human resource team is there to assist employees in identifying training needs and have developed processes to identify employee performances.
Formal and informal communication is encouraged across the sub units and among the employees. Communication among the sub units often occurs by the team leaders and the information is passed on to all personals within the work areas.
Certain functional elements are in cooperated under the sub divisions where project based matrix structures are assimilated to the existing structure. External contractors are involved in the implementation of project works, these projects are supervised by the managers of the sub divisions. Recently, five of the twenty one child care settings participated in the solar energy generating project, and this project is a direct result of the environmental impacts on the organisational structure. As the organisation is organic in nature, it is able to consider the environmental impact s on the organisation and to consider changers to the structure as required. Installation of solar panels and solar energy generation would be one of the possible outcomes the organisation would implement in the near future. If the organisation is mechanistic in nature, it would not be able to respond to the environmental pressures within which the organisation operates. A mechanistic organisation is highly formalised, highly centralised and has a narrow span of control mechanistic structures are very hard to change.
Another important element which supports the organic nature of the organisation is the technological advancements in the organisation. As an example, twelve months ago, a requestion to order children's play equipments would take at least couple of week. The process was to write the requisition form, send a copy to the clerical administrator, then to the Liaison officer and the Manager for approval before placing the order to be delivered. Right now, the order is made through online, electronically submitted for approval, and within twenty four hours the orders will be sent to the supplier. Often the following day the items are delivered to the specified location.
Although the organisational structure is a more towards the organic and integrational in nature, Occupational Health and Safety procedures are highly formalised and has no room for compromise. It is highly formalised and centralised across the organisation and every employee is expected to follow the rules and guidelines without failure. When it comes to the Occupational Health and Safety aspects, the structure is differentiated, mechanistic, highly formalised and regulates work behaviours. However, all the employees have the opportunity to participate in developing the work instructions for specific work routines and to be responsible for the work carried out.
The organisational structure does not neatly fit into any one particular structural design described in the readings, and it displays a combination of elements from all designs. It is unique in nature and has an effective management system which is conducive to employee participation, motivation and satisfaction. As Bolman and Deal (2008) say, "there is no such thing as an ideal structure. Every organisation
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needs to respond to a universal set of internal and external parameters" (p.62) in creating an optimal social architecture.
The structure of your business will act as the backbone and support concerning decision making and other processes. Deciding early what type of organizational system you want to implement will help to ease the stress of the initial start-up. If each person in the organization knows what he or she is supposed to be doing, there is less room for confusion and poor judgment. Perhaps setting up a management team would work the best for your organization, or perhaps a hierarchy of decision makers would work better. Either way, setting up a definite structure before important shots are called makes a difference.
Span of Control
This term is used to describe the number of employees that each manager/supervisor is responsible for. The span of control is said to be wide if a superior is in charge of many employees and narrow if the superior is in charge of a few employees.
Initially, Taylor was very successful at improving production. His methods involved getting the best equipment and people, and then carefully scrutinizing each component of the production process. By analyzing each task individually, Taylor was able to find the right combinations of factors that yielded large increases in production.
While Taylor's scientific management theory proved successful in the simple industrialized companies at the turn of the century, it has not faired well in modern companies