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Lateral Relationships as Legitimate Avenues of Information

Organizations utilize lateral relationships as legitimate avenues of information, and influence flows constitute the new generation of organizational forms. Write a paper that explains the number of different lateral structural arrangements in use in organizations, excluding project teams, matrix structures, organic systems, and professional organizations.

Paper must contain at least five professional references and may include internet sources, books, and professional journals or resources related to the profession.

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Different Lateral structural arrangements in use within organizations


The structures that subscribe to different organizations play a major role and determine how information flows throughout an organization as well as the reporting structure within the organization. While in some organizations decision making lie with the top management in other organizations decision making responsibilities may be distributed within the organization. The latter part is what mainly constitutes a lateral structural arrangement where various departments work hand in hand in achieving a common organizational goal rather than working as distinct or separate entities. Lateral structural arrangements provide an avenue for coordination and communication between widely different aspects within an organization and more often change the nature of interaction and power dynamics between employees different from traditional organizational structures (Bombaci, 2010).

Scott (1992) notes that lateral relationships within organizations have been extensively utilized by organizations as legitimate sources of information and the way the information flows within these organizations have resulted to new generation forms of organizations that are different from the traditional organizational forms. He went ahead and identified some of the lateral structural arrangements as professional organizations, project teams, clan or organic systems and matrix structures. Based on this knowledge advanced by Scott (1992), this research paper seeks to evaluate and discuss a number of different lateral structural arrangements not already identified by Scott.

This paper is arranged in three major sections: Overview of lateral structural arrangements; Understanding different lateral structural arrangements in use within organizations; and managerial implications of lateral structural arrangements within an organization.

Overview of lateral structural arrangements:

The structure of an organization is in the simplest terms defined as the manner in which the organization divides its workforce into distinct roles, functions and tasks and achieves effective coordination between these different roles and functions (Mintzberg, 1979). Lateral structures are defined as those organizational structures in which the employees or departments in the organization communication and coordinate work on the same level rather than up or down. These are mainly based on lateral relationships within organizations which are often within the same hierarchical level and help foster good working relationships between employees and departments within an organization (Joyce, McGee, & Slocum, 1997). The lateral relationships can either be either colleague relations: relationship between employees who subordinate to one superior or in the same department, or collateral relations: relationships between people in the same level with the organization but working in different departments (Bombaci, 2010).

The main driving force and theory behind the importance of lateral structures is that these structures not only helps an organization to increase productivity within its workforce but also helps in achieving superior results, services or products within the organization through information sharing and collaboration between employees and departments during the operation process. In these structures various departments and teams work interdependently to achieve an idea or a product (Joyce, McGee, & Slocum, 1997). As organizations continually face a dynamic competitive environment the need for collaboration, coordination and effective and efficient operations within the organization is imperative if the organization is to grow and survive.

Scott (1992) found that organizational units that are structurally different such as different departments tend to be differentiated in their goals, degree of formalization in structure, methods of interaction, and time perspectives with patterns of information flow and communication reinforcing this isolation. He pointed out that though that such differences can be brought together and coordination reinforced between organizations through effective lateral relationships which help in information flow and communication thereby enhancing efficiencies within the work place.

Over recent years, lateral relations have increasing become important within the structures of organizations. These have been characterized by flexibility, interdependence and continuous learning. Van der Meer-Kooistra and Scapens (2008) argue that minimal structures are needed for effective regulation of lateral relations with enough room left for various parties to maneuver and react to new situations and conditions as they arise. This implies that a lateral structural arrangement within an organization should be able to combine effectively both flexibility and firmness. Lateral structures help in dealing with the demands for information processing that are imposed by high levels of task uncertainty. Since organizations are open systems they are often exposed to various risks and limited in ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses how organizations utilize lateral relationships as legitimate avenues of information.