Organizational Structure

Organizational Structure

Organizational Structure

The pyramid-shaped organizational structure of bureaucracies enables a relatively small number of people at the top to control a large number of people below. The range of decisions each member of a bureaucracy can make is clearly defined and limited. This leads to a high degree of specialization of skill and function within the organization.

Three technical gains in organizational effectiveness are made possible by bureaucratic structure. First, a few leaders can coordinate the actions of relatively large numbers of people. In small organizations the members are able to maintain direct face-to-face contact with one another. But in large organizations this is physically impossible, and the coordination required to carry out complicated tasks requires setting up the hierarchal arrangements typical of bureaucracy.

A second gain of bureaucracies is greater facility for making complex decisions which are beyond the competence of any single individual. Where the number of variables or amount of information required to make decisions is extensive, bureaucracy is an aid to rational calculation. An example is the production of automobiles. Such varied engineering, design, manufacturing, sales, and advertising "know-how" is needed to produce and market automobiles that only a bureaucracy can do the job. Finally, there is the gain of division of labour. Generally, the greater the division of labour in an organization the less face-to-face contact there is between the members and the greater the need for bureaucracy.

The machine ultimately is the cause of the organizational revolution, and the society that it is creating resembles a machine. The machine is a marvel of organization. It consists of a number of parts that have no meaning or function except in the way that they relate to each other. Each part makes its special contribution to the total result of the machine. There is no extraneous part or movement-the machine is a complete rationalization of a particular field of action. This characteristic of functional interdependence of parts also has relevance for society. If industrial society is to take maximum advantage of machine technology, it must accept the logic of machine organization. The parts of society must have the same precise relationship of functional interdependence as the parts of a machine. Such a society, which can appropriately be termed an organizational society, is emerging in the contemporary United States.

The economy of the organizational society is a mixed economy which preserves much of the capitalist price system but uses public and private organizations to improve the economic position of lower income groups and to prevent depressions. In developing the organizational economy, we are following a path halfway between the low level of organization of laissez-faire capitalism and the all-out organizational effort of communism. We have taken this course because there no longer is a simple choice to be made between control or non-control by organizations of the economic processes in modern industrial society. The only real choice is between the totalitarian control of the state and a more pluralistic and democratic system of control. The difference between these two approaches is the basis of the ideological conflict between the United States and Russia.

It appears beyond dispute that the reason why we have an organizational society is because most people prefer it to other ways of organizing modern society. However, this type of social organization does pose serious problems for us. Our heritage of values and ideals is threatened by the organizational way of life. There is no doubt, for example, that individualism is difficult to sustain in giant organizations. The way to protect this and other traditional values and ideals is not to do away with organizations, however, but to see to it that we develop organizations that are compatible with the UK way of life. We have long since passed the point in our national development where we have a choice between organizations and something else. Our only choice now is between organizations that serve our needs and those that do not.


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