Topic Overview

This week's class centered around the discussion of how to conceptualize and build organizations using the structural frame. The structural frame focuses on the task of maximizing efficiency in its design and in its workers. Organizational needs vary depending on any number of factors that range from goals to environment, so there is no single best structure. Instead, organizations must find the appropriate forms of coordination, differentiation and integration to suit their own needs. From exploring the structural frame's intellectual origins in the scientific, rational, and bureaucratic ideas of Frederick W. Taylor and Max Weber, to analyzing how perceptions of structuralist organizations in popular culture have changed over the last half century, the readings and activities of the class explored the overarching metaphor of organizations as machines.

Key Terminology

Term or Concept
"a form of organization that emphasizes precision, speed, clarity,
regularity, reliability, and efficiency achieved through the creation
of a fixed division of tasks, hierarchial supervision, and detailed
rules and regulations." Max Weber
p. 17
"to capture how the organizational principles underlying the design
of the McDonald's chain of fast-food restaurants, with its emphasis on
ruthless efficiency, quantification, predictibility, control, and deskilled jobs."
p. 24
Inductive Reasoning
Developing theory from practice on interpretive epistemology.
p. 26
Deductive Mode
Testing theory against practice using an interpretative epistemology.
p. 26
Division of Labor
Adam Smith – allocation of tasks.
p. 52
Theory of Capital
Marx – considers the human need to survive the dangers presented by the physical world.
p. 29
Refers to the disenfranchising of workers from the product of their work efforts.
p. 29
Critical Organization Theory
Focuses on the structural, economic and social system determinants of the distribution of power in organizations and is concerned with the emancipation of workers and with establishing more democratic structures and forms of corporate governance.
p. 29
Formal and Informal Organizations
Durkheim proposed the distinction between informal and formal organizations that placed attention on workers social needs in addition to the demands of formally organized work.
p. 30
Authority Structures
Weber - Spoke about three different leadership styles:
1) Traditional – an inherited status defined and maintained 2) Charismatic – individuals whose magical powers of attraction for others justifies their authority with little need for any other legitimatization 3) Rational-legal – allows a society to avoid both the succession problems of finding another charismatic person when a leader is lost and the problem of ceding authority through inheritance to those who are ill-fit or unwilling to lead.
p. 30-31
Theory of Bureaucracy
Weber – A closed, rational system.
p. 49
Formal vs. Substantive Rationality
Weber – Formal rationality involves techniques of calculation (engineers) vs. substantive rationality refers to the desired ends of action that direct the uses of calculation techniques.
p. 31
Scientific Management
Taylor – A closed rational system (Bethlehem Steel, TQM, etc.).
p. 49
Workplace Democracy
Follett – Principle of self government, still in place in Japan today.
p. 34
Administrative Principles
Fayol – 1) issues as the span of control, 2) departments formed around grouping of similar activities, 3) exceptions to routine – employees should handle routine matters and managers should handle exceptions, 4) the pyramid structure – hierarchy. Also the esprit de corps concept
p. 34
Gulick – Mnemonic to define the work of an executive. P=planning, O=Organizing, S=Staffing, D=Directing, Co=Coordinating, R=Reporting, B=Budgeting
p. 35
Cooperative Social Systems
Barnard – Focuses on the integration of work efforts through communication of goals and attention to motivation (similar to Mary Follett).
p. 37
General Systems Theory
vonBertalanffy – One of three theories for the modernists organization theory. He believed in a hierarchical system. It consists of a system and a subsystem. Each subsystem affects the others and in turn depends upon the whole. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
p. 37
Provides the system with the benefits of specialization.
p. 38
Happens at the subsystem level in a modernist theory.
p. 39
Happens at the systems level in a modernist theory.
p. 39
Hierarchy of Systems
Bouldings created this theory – you need to look at the whole system to get an accurate picture.
p. 39
Autonomous Work Groups
Trist & Bamforth – When you have multi skilled work groups responsible for the whole cycle.
p. 40
Contingency Theory
Jigsaw puzzle analogy – if this, then that needs to happen in a modernist theory.
p. 41
Crisis of Representation
Malinowski - The debate surrounding anthropology’s methods. For example, a photo shows a group of natives lined up outside an anthropologist’s tent. They watch as an anthropologist types his field notes. He is so busy typing he doesn’t see them watching.
p. 42
Multiple Interpretations
Pertains to the theory that because meaning is in human interactions and in symbols that may be interpreted by different people, there needs to be discussion about multiple interpretations.
p. 42
Involved in the theory based on how different individuals and groups produce multiple meanings and interpret them from within their own cultural contexts.
p. 43

Summary of Readings

Bolman & Deal - Chapter 3

"Getting Organized"

Examples from the World Trade Center rescue efforts and the USS Kennedy show that having the right structure in place in an organization can literally be a matter of life and death. To discuss the structural frame, it is important to look at its origins, assumptions, and what Bolman & Deal call the "two key questions: How do we allocate responsibilities across different units and roles? And, once we've done that, how do we integrate diverse efforts in pursuit of common goals?" In other words, how does one address the core issues of differentiation and integration in an organization?

Structural Assumptions: The central approach of the structural frame is the idea of putting the right people in the right roles. Behind this approach are the following 6 central assumptions:
1. Organizations exist to achieve established goals and objectives.2. Organizations increase efficiency and enhance performance through specialization and appropriate division of labor.3. Suitable forms of coordination and control ensure that diverse efforts of individuals and units mesh.4. Organizations work best when rationality prevails over personal agendas and extraneous pressures.5. Structures must be designed to fit an organization’s current circumstances (including its goals, technology, workforce, and environment).6. Problems arise and performance suffers from structural deficiencies, which can be remedied through analysis and restructuring.
Origins: Frederick W. Taylor (1911), the founder of Scientific Management, sought to break tasks down into their most basic components to allow each individual action to be as efficient and regulated as possible.Other contributing theorists include: Fayol (1919 and 1949), Urwick (1937), Gulick & Urwick (1937).
Max Weber’s idea of a monocratic bureaucracy, guided by principles of rationality, rather than patriarchy, focused on ideas such as hierarchy, rules, qualifications, and division of labor.The bureaucratic model continued to be developed and studied through the 1960s and into the 1980s.Other contributing theorists include: Blau & Scott (1967), Perrow (1986), Thompson (1967), Lawrence & Lorsch (1967), and Hall (1963).
Structural Forms & Functions: Structure is “a blueprint for officially sanctioned expectations and exchanges among internal players (executives, managers, employees) and external constituencies (such as customers and clients)” (p. 50).
There is no one right structure, but rather the structure must fit any number of variables including the company, the environment, different internal and external pressures, technology, organizational goals, etc.For organizations in stable environments, a rigid, hierarchical structure may be very successful; for organizations in dynamic, rapidly evolving environments, a more flexible or adaptable structure may be needed, requiring managers to devote time to continuing to develop a strong social architecture for the organization.
Basic Structural Tensions: The previously mentioned issues of differentiation and integration are central to developing a strong structure for an organization.
Differentiation: The question of how to allocate tasks (division of labor) includes both the issue of how to break up tasks, and how to group individuals into manageable units. Units can be organized by function, time, product, customers/clients, location, or process, to name a few (Mintzberg, 1979).
Integration:Once units and roles have been established, it is important to ensure that efforts mesh, at both the individual and unit levels, to ensure efficiency and avoid suboptimization, or a focus on unit goals over organizational ones.
Vertical Coordination: There are two primary ways to ensure coordination of efforts and avoid suboptimization.The first is vertical coordination, related to hierarchy and chain of command. Vertical coordination does not cost much to enact, but may experience difficulties depending on the personnel (both at the managerial and subordinate levels).
Authority: The managers of an organization are tasked with keeping individuals and units focused on organizational goals, and utilize a chain of command to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them. It is important that authority be legitimate and accepted by subordinates for this model to function optimally.
Rules & Policies: Rules and policies are designed to reduce variance in tasks and “particularism,” when issues are responded to based on factors not related to achievement of organizational goals (Perrow, 1986).
Planning & Control Systems: Planning and control systems as a means of vertical coordination are reliant upon objectives and the manner of their pursuit.In performance control, measurable objectives are set to which outcomes may be compared; the challenge here is in selecting the appropriate measure for objectives.When an outcome may be difficult to measure, action planning may be used, in which the focus is on the plan or process, rather than the objective; the challenge here is establishing the link between the plan and the outcome.
Lateral Coordination: The second way of promoting coordination is lateral coordination, which emphasizes communication across units.Lateral coordination may be achieved through meetings (both formal and informal), task forces, coordinating roles (“boundary-spanners), matrix structures, and networks.Any or all of these may be utilized depending on the organization and its needs.However, in each, the emphasis is on ensuring communication between diverse individuals and units. Lateral coordination is often more effective because of its directness and transparency, but may be more expensive to enact.
Structural Imperatives: As evidenced in the comparison between the highly vertically coordinated McDonald’s and the more laterally coordinated Harvard University, many different issues impact an organization’s structural needs.These include: size and age, core process, environment, strategy and goals, information technology, and nature of the workforce.

Morgan - Chapter 2

“Mechanization Takes Command – Organizations as Machines”

The word organization is derived from the Greek word organon, which means a tool or instrument. Therefore, it was not much of a leap to relate organizations to machines since tools and instruments are mechanical devices that aid in performing a goal-oriented activity.

Mechanical modes of organizational operation can offer good results such as clear chains of command and control, repeatability, increased production, and efficiency. Mechanical modes can also provide less desirable results such as lack of innovation or fresh ideas, and the inability to respond to change or to think outside the box.

Origin of Mechanistic Organization: Frederick the Great of Prussia, who ruled from 1740 to 1786, developed an army that is considered a prototype of mechanistic organization. Frederick inherited an army which Morgan described as an unruly mob since it was composed of criminals, paupers, etc. To gain control and mold his army into a reliable and efficient instrument, Frederick introduced reform in the way of ranks, uniforms, regulations, standard equipment, and systematic training.

Impact of Industrial Revolution: During the industrial revolution, organizations that used machines became more and more like machines. The German sociologist Max Weber saw parallels between mechanization of industry and proliferation of bureaucratic forms of organization. He provided a comprehensive definition of bureaucracy as a form or organization that emphasized precision, speed, clarity, regularity, reliability, etc. However, Weber was concerned about the adverse effects of bureaucracy on society. He considered a potential to mechanize human life in a manner that could erode human spirit and capacity for spontaneity.

Other Early Management Theory: Unlike Weber, other management theorists advocated bureaucracy and developed what is known as “classical management theory” and “scientific management theory”. Classical management theorists focus on design of the total organization whereas scientific management theorists focus on design and management of individual jobs.

Classical Management Theory: This classical management can be seen in organizations with well designed, detailed, “mechanized” organizational charts that clearly define top down control, and precisely defined functional departments or groups. This theory suggests that organizations can or should be rational systems that operate in an efficient manner.

Scientific Management Theory: Frederick Taylor pioneered scientific management which shifts all of the thinking and planning to management. Workers do the “work” only. Workers are trained to perform work in a very precise manner. This theory has been used extensively in manufacturing, retail businesses (such as fast food), and offices and has been credited with significantly increasing productivity. This mechanized approach works well only under conditions where machines work well: straightforward tasks, stable environments, precision, repeatability, etc. These types of organization do not work well under changing conditions that call for flexibility and innovation.

Conclusion: Morgan closes by stating “From a historical perspective, the mechanistic approach to organization belongs in the mechanical age. Now that we are entering an age with a completely new technological base drawing on microelectronics, new organizational principles are likely to become increasingly important”.

Hatch (2006) - A Brief History of Organization Theory

Organizational theory began many decades ago before anyone knew what to label it. Through various types of scholars, sociologists to management theorists, concepts and systems that fit the environment at that time were created. This chapter began with the background of these thinkers and how their theories were created and in some case how they are embedded in organizations today.

Important thinkers and how their ideas lived on. This is from Chapter 2 of the Hatch article posted on Blackboard and the Topic Overview with PowerPoint Slide Show used in the class discussion.

Adam Smith (1776) Division of labor (via pin manufacturing). How to get more out of people, very rigid and formalized included a time motion study. Example in higher education would be how the paperwork for graduation is handled.
Karl Marx (1818-1883) Regarded as one of the founders of sociology; believed in collective labor and formed the basis for the Theory of Capital.
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) Sociologist that believed in informal (social needs) and formal organizations or otherwise stated as the humanistic and economic aspects of an organization.
Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) Engineer that created a scientific management approach. His contribution was the technical aspects of management today (cost savings, control systems). Examples are an assembly line, TQM, Reengineering. He felt that switching roles made people more aware. Frank Gilbreth worked closely with him and was a time and motion expert. Gilbreth's children wrote "Cheaper by the Dozen".
Max Weber (1864-1920) Sociologist known for his Theory of Bureaucracy including three leadership styles: traditional (inherited), charismatic (attraction) and rational-legal (technical).
Mary Parker Follett (1868-1933) Scholar who promoted employee involvement, self government and group involvement. Her ideas are used in Japan.
Henri Fayol, (1841-1925) Engineer and administrative theorist. His four administrative principles include, 1) defined the number of people that should report to one manager 2) Managers should only handle exceptions, 3) departmentalization, 4) need a pyramid structure – hierarchy.
Luther H. Gulick (1892-1992) Administrative theorist who created a mnemonic for executives, POSDCoRB (Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting. He felt these were universal rules that could be applied to any organization. Big on specific roles for everyone.
Chester Barnard 1886-1961 Executive and management theorist who believe that managing the informal organization was the key, focused on communication of goals and pay attention to work motivation. Popular today. There is a grid where you should place yourself. (Symbolic Interpretative theory)

Three perspectives were examined starting with modernism and three important theories: general systems theory, sociotechnical systems theory, and contingency theory. Another important perspective was symbolic-interpretative including social construction theory, enactment theory, and reflexivity. The final section was about concepts that have been debated about postmodernism including language games, grand narratives, power/knowledge, discourse, decentering, deconstruction, difference, simulacra and hyper-reality. The three perspectives and the definition of the theories are listed below:

They like reason.
General Systems:
Looking at the entire system and the subsystems. Differentiation provides the system with the benefits of specialization. People don’t play a big role in this theory.

Sociotechnical Systems Theory:
Trist and Barnforth examined the impact of technology on worker productivity, motivation, morale, and stress. Emery felt that teamwork, multi skilling and self management led to greater productivity and a higher morale. This led to matrix structures and networks.

Contingency Theory:
Known as a jigsaw puzzle because it was about determining the best fit in relationship to the whole. This was the dominant approach over all three of the theories of modernism.
This challenged modernism spearheaded by the collapse of colonialism. These researchers assume that we construct the social realities with which we live our lives.
Social Construction Theory: Objectification – Berrger & Luckmann said, “Our social world is negotiated, organized and constructed by our interpretations of what is happening around us (pg 43)." Language is the symbol and is used to create and maintain social reality.

Enactment Theory: Weick believed humans create mental maps to help us find out way in an organization around the social world. When we talk about this, we make it real (he called it 'reification'). He felt “members enact the environment by responding to their social construction of it.” For example, stock trading – a bandwagon effect draws up the price of a stock, not the quality of the stock.

Institutionalization: The Tennessee Valley Authority government project that built dams to produce electricity and control flooding in that region. This explained the importance of symbolism and from it the Standing Conference on Organizational Symbolism was formed (SCOS).

Reflexivity: Our explanation of the world should not be taken at face value. We use different languages and our own experiences reflect how we see the world. To avoid this problem, researchers need to look closely at how they operate and express themselves and in doing so they become self reflective.
Post Modernism Concepts

Saussurian theory of language played a huge role in post modernism. Moderists say language is a mirror that reflects reality and Saussurean says language exists independently of reality. For example, language is connected by its position within language.
Language Games are different meanings of words. Wittgenstein said words take on meaning in relation to the rules used to specific communities – the words you use depends on your audience.
Grand Narratives: Lyotard said reason was the nightmare because of what it brings to the world. He believed scientific facts were agreements of claims by scientists however these claims are only good until the next one comes along (pg. 50). Giving Voice is the creation of multiple texts and for tolerating different interpretations of them (pg. 51).
Discourse and Decentering: This is a mode of thinking or a set of cultural practices that provides the partial perspective of a particular group. It is tied to language and how it is used and what is said (pg. 51).
Deconstruction: Changing the context surrounding a text. Multiple audiences will produce the meaning. Social power is behind deconstruction.
Difference: To differ and to defer. He argues that a word derives its meaning from differences with its opposites (true/false). Also, that as you keep trying to define a word, you keep distilling it further and further. Meaning is fluid.
Simulacra and Hyper-Reality: Refers to simulations. For example, reality shows, Disney, etc.

Toma (2010)- Structure: Rethinking the Setting for Teaching Mathematics at Virginia Tech

Toma's (2010) article on the Math Emporium at Virginia Tech illustrates how important it is for those wishing to build organizational capacity to consider structure.

The Math Emporium at Va. Tech. was created in 1997 to serve one main purpose: offer lower level math instruction to approximately 2000 undergraduate students efficiently and inexpensively, while maintaining a high level of quality in instruction. The Math Emporium was able to be created quickly and efficiently because of the loosely coupled nature of a large research university, such as Virgina Tech (Weick, 1976). A senior level administrator and chair of the mathematics department had long discussed the need to increase the use of technology in lower level courses. Severe budget cuts had left the president, provost, and executive vice president trying to figure out ways to save money, increase the use of technology, and free up professors for research (Toma, 2010). A nearby vacant department store became available and the university was able to move quickly to finance and create the Math Emporium. The Math Emporium’s creation benefited from a culture that embraced innovation and had the right idea, at the right time, with the right resources.

Strategic management- The Math Emporium was created out of the math department. It could not have been imposed by the administration, because the faculty was too autonomous. The idea was well communicated to stakeholders and the supporting data for this type of approach was provided. The Math Emporium has faculty governance and control over curriculum.
Structure influences- The policies, processes, information, infrastructure, and culture needed were all in place. The right space and software were readily available.
Cultural factors- Virginia Tech culture values autonomy, innovation, and trust. These cultural factors were necessary to establish something like the Math Emporium.
Structural factors- Scale was important. This initiative would not have worked at a small college. The staff was available, the technology was available, the timing was right, and there was available space and budget problems that needed solutions. There was an important and much needed alignment between initiative and culture.

The Math Emporium is a good example of the structural frame (Bowman & Deal, 2008).
The Math Emporium exists as an organization:
(1) to achieve goals and objectives (it teaches math to 2000 students efficiently and successfully)
(2) to increase the organizations efficiency and improve performance through specialization and division of labor (senior level professors research more, graduate assistants and less senior professors tutor and teach)
(3) it coordinates and controls functions between individuals and units (students, grad asst., student tutors, professors)
(4) rationality prevailed over personal agendas and outside pressures (university allowed Math Emporium to have autonomy, innovative approach)
(5) structure must fit existing circumstances- (the Math Emporium met the goals, they had the technology, the workforce, and the right environment)
(6) structural deficiencies considered and adjusted to

Pods inside the Virginia Tech Math Emporium

Outside the classroom

Additional Related Articles:

Class discussions, handouts, reminders

February 2, 2011 Agenda
(10 minutes) Housekeeping—China trip; International Roundtable Groups
(15 minutes) Metaphors—Concept Map of Organizations
(20 minutes) Topic Overview
(30 minutes) Round-robin Discussion Questions
(15 minutes) Break
(30 minutes) Video Analysis
(30 minutes) Organizational Analysis

Metaphors - Concept Map of Organizations: After having a few moments on our own to come up with a metaphor as to how we see higher education organized, a group discussion occurred. Listed below are the ones that were mentioned by the class and discussed.
1. Football team
2. String of holiday lights
3. TV show
4. Bag of M&M's
5. Circus
6. Zoo
7. Ball of yarn
8. Matrix
9. Juicy/juicy
10. i Pod

-->>To read more on the use of metaphors and paradigms for conceptualizing organizations, see Gareth Morgan's 1980 article (yes, that Gareth Morgan) in Administrative Science Quarterly entitled "Paradigms, Metaphors and Puzzle Solving in Organization Theory".
Stable JSTOR link for those logged in from WM:

Round-robin Discussion Questions: We broke into different groups to discuss different prompt questions. These are a few example questions and their discussed responses.
Q: How would a social constructivist look at the structural frame?
A: Too rigid, not enough flexibility, not enough communication

Q: Limitations of the machine metaphor?
A: Dehumanization, difficulty in adapting to change, conflicting goals/motivations

Q: Using the example of the Math Emporium, how does this case illustrate the assumptions Bolman and Deal argue?
A: They were working together to achieve the established goals (higher level research) by specialization to make lower level math, etc more efficient; adapting
to current circumstances; BUT because not incorporated into physical structure of university – issues? – not really, more meshing than unraveling, etc.

Q: When might too many rules present a problem? Examples?
A: When people have a hard time learning, understanding, and applying them, like with the current tax code.

Q: How can Weber’s ideas of structure be applied to Higher Ed?
A: He is about bureaucratic authority and in higher education that clearly exists. Earning a degree is a formal process however how you do it varies by individual

Q: What happens if you don’t follow the six assumptions (Bolman, pg 47)
A: You will have no direction, lack efficiency, people will have too many personal agendas and ultimately the organization will fail or get stagnate. In the short term this may work but not in the long term.

Q: Taylor's 5 points (Morgan, pg 23) How does this apply in today’s technology driven world?
A: Not the best way to do things. Power is disseminated in the technology age and we need fewer managers, therefore it shifts all of the assumptions.

Video Analysis: As an exercise to apply framework and organization theory, Professor Eddy had the class view
several video clips.

The first, filmed 5/30/52, was a scene from Episode 39 of I Love Lucy titled “Job Switching”. Most fans refer to the episode as "The Candy Factory". The second video clip was a scene from a 1999 movie Office Space where Peter gets grilled by his bosses for not having the correct cover sheet on his TPS report. (Click on each picture to view the video.)

The class was divided in groups and given the opportunity to answer the following questions regarding each video.
1. What elements of the structural frame are evident in the movie clip? (consider the assumptions put forth by Bolman
and Deal on page 47)
2. What type of vertical coordination is evident? Elements of lateral coordination?
3. How does the environment look from a positivist perspective? Social Construction? Post-Modern?

An open discussion followed where groups were invited to share their ideas of concepts represented in the movies from the contrasting eras.

Organizational Analysis: The class concluded with an exercise where each class member was asked to take a few moments and draw their concept of an ideal organization. Each was given the opportunity to identify and explain their concept.
A wide variety of ideas were shared including:
· solar system
· reverse pyramid
· intersecting circles
· conventional structure with increased lateral interface
· multi-directional design
· wheel configuration.