Understanding the purpose of an organization


The purpose of organization is therefore to coordinate or manage activities so that the organization's goal namely the provision of quality services may be attained. In the management process, planning involves determining what is to be achieved and organization how it may be achieved.

The culture

We know that every person has a unique personality. An individual's personality is a set of relatively permanent and stable traits. Our personality influences the way we act and interact with others. When we describe someone as warm, open, relaxed, or conservative, we are describing personality traits. An organization too has a personality, which we its culture. Generally speaking, we can say that culture is the acquired knowledge, enlightenment, belief, values, behaviours and customs of a reasonably large group of people at a particular place and time.

Organizational Development

Organizations are subject to constant change because the environment in which they function is dynamic. Staff may experience change positively or negatively. In developing an organization, efforts are made to eliminate the negative aspects of change and to respond proactively to essential changes by concentrating on staff members' personal growth and personal skills.


What is Organizational Culture?

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Man spends major part of his life in the organization within which he works. When people join an organization, they bring with them the unique values and behaviours that they have been taught. Any organization with firmly established organizational culture would teach the values, beliefs and expected behaviours of that organization. Just as society makes human behaviour that is in tune with the prevalent set of norms and behavior. In this process, certain basic attitudes and belief about the people and their work situations are slowly but firmly accepted in the organization, which becomes its Organizational Culture.

In other words, we can define the organizational culture as the sum total of organizational values, formal and informal communication, patterns and historical patterns that influence the operation of the organization.(Ellis & Hartley 2000:49; Fineman, Sims & Gabriel 2005:317; Jooste 2003:296)

What are the types of Organizational Culture?

Handy (1996) argued that organizations falls into four types according to their culture:

Power Culture- this culture depends on a central power source, with strands of power and influence spreading out from that central figure or group.

Role culture- this is the culture of the role, or job description, which is often more important than the person who fills it.

Task culture- the task culture is project or job-oriented one structural form is matrix organization.

Person culture- in this culture the individual is the central point.

How do employees learn culture?

Normally, an organization current way of doing things, custom, belief, tradition are largely due to what has been done before and the degree success it had with its endeavors. The culture of an organization is usually implemented by the founders. It reflects its mission and the vision. In an organization, culture is transmitted to employees in various ways. The most significant are stories, rituals, symbols and language.

Stories- typically organizational "stories" contain a narrative of significant events or people including such things as the organization's founders, rule breaking and reactions to past mistakes. For example; to help the employees to learn culture of a specific organization, stories of the past are narrated.

Rituals- corporate rituals are repetitive sequences of activities that express and reinforce the values of the organization, what goals are important and which people are important which ones are expendable.

Material symbols- when you walk into different businesses, do you get a "feel" for the place- formal, casual, fun, serious? These feelings you get demonstrate the power of material symbols in creating an organization's personality.

Language- many organization and units within organizations use language as a way to identify members of a culture. When members learn this language, they attest to their acceptance of the culture and their willingness to help to preserve it. For example; Microsoft, the software company, has its own unique vocabulary: work judo (the art of deflecting a work assignment to someone else without making it appear that you are avoiding it)

The Organizational Theory

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To understand how an organization functions an overview of the three main groups of theories regarding organizations and how they are run effectively, is needed. The theories are divided into groups as follows:

The Classical Theories

These classical theories originated in the nineteenth century. They were formulated by Taylor (1856-1915); Fayol (1841/1925) and Weber (1964-1920).

Frederic Taylor laid the foundation for the scientific school of thought regarding the management of organization. He believed that productivity can be increased by applying the scientific methods of observation, measurement and experimental comparison to the work situation. He regarded the following as important to improve production:

The performance of workers should be observed by time and motion studies to identify the best way of performing a task. Work standards should be set.

It is important to fit the man to the job; the selection of workers is therefore regarded as important and the manager should be involved in the selection and appointment personnel for a particular task.

Management is responsible for training and developing the worker for that particular job. Special orientation and induction programs are arranged for recruits and weekly in-service educational programs are held. These are important in helping personnel who are already in the job to cope with changing technology and to update their knowledge.

Money is used to motivate workers to higher productivity. When workers attain a certain standard, they should receive certain motivational incentives.

One foreman cannot be an expert at the entire task to be supervised. Specialization takes place by appointing functional foreman with managerial responsibilities to plan for a certain set of workers and to supervise them.

Production control is done by appointing, a foreman to inspect each aspect of the task, subjecting workers to the undesirable situation of taking orders from more than one boss.

Physical facilities are important. Optimum conditions of lighting, layout of the working area comfort of the workers and the necessary tools and equipment must be supplied. The safety of the workers is also taken into consideration. When equipment is outdated or not in a satisfactory working condition, it may result in stress, burn-out and absenteeism.

Henry Fayol was considered as the father of the classical school of thought. This school of thought, also known as the management as the management process school, concentrated on top management and division of wok. The following important management principles are involved:

Division of work- specialization occurs when an organization is expanding.

Authority and responsibility- authority should be commensurate with responsibility.

Discipline- the employer has the right to discipline employees if they do not comply with the organization's rules.

Unity of command- an employee should receive orders from one superior only.

Unity of direction- there should be only one person in charge of group of activities.

Subordination of individual's interests to general interests- the goals and activities of the institution always come first.

Remuneration of personnel- as far as possible a fair salary which satisfies both employee and employer should be paid.

Centralization- communication comes from and goes to the person at the top.

Scalar chain- an unbroken chain of authority and communication should extend from the highest to the lowest level in an organization.

Order- there is a given place for everyone and everyone must be in place.

Equity- all employees in an institution should be treated alike. No favours should be given to anybody.

Stability of tenure for personnel- a characteristic of a prosperous institution is a stable work-force.

Initiative- individuals should have the opportunity to exercise initiative at every level of the organization within the limits of respect for authority and discipline.

'Esprit de corps'- team work and good interpersonal relationships are important in an organization for productivity and effectiveness.

Max Weber regarded bureaucracy as the best way to organize a complex organization. The characteristics of bureaucratic management are the following:

Rules and regulation- they ensure uniformity of procedures and coordinate the efforts of the workers. Stability in the organization is also maintained.

Impersonality- fairness and objectivity would be achieved through this principle.

Division of labour- duties are divided into simpler and more specialized task, enabling the organization to make better use of its personnel.

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Emphasis on technical competence- people with certain skills and knowledge are hired to carry out specific aspects of the total work of the organization.

Hierarchical structure- most organization operate according to a hierarchical structure that resembles a pyramid. Power and authority increase at every level up to the top of the hierarchy.

Authority structure- the system is tied together by an authority structure- the right to make decision is at the top and people at the ground or bottom level is expected to implement them.

Rationality- the most efficient means to achieve the organization's objectives should be used.

Max Weber considered bureaucracy to be highly efficient in dealing with changing circumstances but it has proved to be too rigid and clumsy for the rapid changes in modern society. This approach became extremely popular mainly because of the long lines of decision making, resulting in nobody in the organization being willing to accept responsibility for unpopular decisions. The strict adherence to rules and regulations prevents immediate response to environmental changes. The division of labour does foster the motivation of workers, who do not identify with the end product.

The humanist theories

The humanist theories are also called the behaviorist or neoclassical theories. This group of theories, while fully acknowledging the importance of maintaining the external balance, that is to say the economic side, supported the maintenance of the equally important internal balance, in other words the social organization of the employees.

The humanist theories recognized the fact that an individual employee's objectives may differ from those of the organization. It is therefore advisable to involve employees in planning and decision making so that they are able to identify with the organization's objectives. If there is general job satisfaction among the employees in an organization because their needs are addressed, the organization will be the richer for the resultant increase in production and effectiveness.

Elton Mayor (1880/1949) initiated the renowned Hawthorn studies which heralded the beginning of the school of thought on human relations or behavioural theory. The following important principles were developed by the humanists:

A complex set of factors, like values, beliefs and emotions, determine a workers working behavior. Economic and rational considerations are not the only important factors. An organization is a social system with interdependent parts. A change in one part will affect the others as well.

An organization has two functions, namely to provide a service or to create a product and to give job satisfaction to workers.

The work group's values determine what type of work they would classify as superior or inferior.

An organization has a formal structure which includes policies, rules and regulations, as well as an informal structure where personal relationships are developed spontaneously among employees.

Supervisors should consider the personality of an employee in order to understand his or her unique needs.

Sensitivity for the feelings of an employee can reduce resistance to change and encourage participation.

Workers may change undesirable behaviours if managers pay special attention to them.


Organizational cultures develop progressively through the history of the organization, often reflecting the values and prescriptions of its leaders. It is founded on the interaction of officials' policies and procedures, the behavior of managers and employees, and the feedback provided within the organization. Some organizational cultures enhance efficiency, productivity, innovation and service while others have cultures that are inclined to shatter initiative, and are less managerially efficient and productive. Likewise one institution may be warm, relaxed and supportive, while another one is formal and competitive. When professionals join an organization they gradually learn the culture created by dominant founding members, until it unconsciously become part of them.