In the contemporary word, the structure of organizations is affected by various factors. Firstly, it is affected by the strategy which the organization employs in under taking its operations. Strategy by definition refers to the means or vehicle that is used towards achievement of the set objectives of the organization. Ideally, strategies are designed from the objectives. Strategy determines the kind of structure which an organization adopts. It therefore follows that if an organization intents to significantly change its strategy, then it has also to change its structure or adjust it to pave way for the change. Research has show that simple organizations with simple structures usually called organic structures require to begin with simple strategy. As the organization’s strategy grow and become diversified, the structure is modified accordingly to cope with the new strategies.
The second factor that affects the structure is the size. It is evident from both research and historical experience that the size of an organization directly influences its structure. Big organizations are characterized with complex structures that has various inter relations either horizontally or vertically and narrow specializations when it comes to performance of work. The could also have strict rules and regulations which govern them in their operations. However, these features cease to apply as the organization continually grows to greater heights thus adopting the organic organizational characteristics. For the small sized organizations, they have mechanistic structure that is characterized by few and flexible rules, non hierarchical
relationships and flatter structures (Poole, 2004, p.12).
The third factor that affect structure of an organization is the technology that it engages in production of its products and performance of various corporate activities and processes. It is a fact that each and every organization employs some kind of technology in processing the inputs into products that are demanded by the consumers. Achievement of this goal utilizes equipments, technical know-how and skilled man power to change this resources into specific products or deliverables. Various studies have proved that there is a clear association between the size, structure and the technology that is used for production in an organization. It has also been found that the routine-ness of technology used depends on structure of the organization. The technology that is used to convert the in puts to products vary with their level of routines. Basically, the more routine the technology is, the more the standardized and mechanistic the structure can be. On the other hand, non-routine technologies are more likely to have organic structures (Poole, 2008, p.17).
The fourth and the last factor that impact on the structure of the organization is the prevailing environment. Management of organization require perpetual orientation to the ever changing, unpredictable and dynamic surrounding conditions for them to remain within a competitive edge over its opponents and also remain relevant to the prevailing business times. Due such environmental conditions that are a threat to their survival, organizations are restructured as they grow larger to become more flexible, efficient, lean and responsive to the conditions (Poole, 2004, p.28)
Other environmental factors that call for restructuring organizations are increased rates of innovations, global competition due use of information technology, increasing demand for quality products by the consumers and fast means of transport and communication. Mechanistic organizations are many times not prepared to deal with such changes hence they tend to redesign the organizations to adopt organic structure which is more responsive to environmental variations.
In conclusion therefore, it is of great importance for managers and directors of organizations to put into consideration all these factors in designing organization’s structure.
Poole Marshall & Andrew Van De Ven (2004) Handbook of Organizational and Innovation. Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp.12, 17, 28
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