Organizational structure can be defined as the result of the combination of all the ways in which work can be divided into different tasks, the coordination of which must subsequently be ensured.1 An organization can be structured in many different ways. That is, the lines of reporting and responsibility in a business can be organized differently depending on the goals of the organization. According to Henry Mintzberg, there are six valid organizational configurations:
- The simple structure - characteristic of entrepreneurial organizations
- Machine bureaucracy
- Professional bureaucracy
- Diversified form
- Innovation organization
- Missionary organization
Traditionally, organizational structure is seen as an artifact, something that is created by founders or management in an organization. With this view, organizational structure contributes meaning to organizational culture by outlining the power distribution between managers and workers.
With the emergence of a post World War II knowledge-based economy, organizational theorists began to suggest that organizational structure was not an artifact; rather, it resulted from the strategy of the organization and the behavior of its workers and managers. These, in turn, were determined by how the organization “faced problems of survival in an external environment and its problems of internal integration."2
This new view that corporate structure is an outcome rather than an artifact of organizational culture reinforces the similar notion that the beliefs that leaders of an organization hope to espouse are a part, but do not define, the totality of corporate culture.
Today, we are seeing a flattening of organizations along with the creation of more flexible and dynamic organizational structures that support teaming (the organization of teams, especially cross-functional teams, to work together). Today, the concept of “structural lag” is an important issue, and organizations are seeing the need for transformational change as rigid organizational structures respond to the need for teaming, as well as an aging workforce, the sandwich generation, globalization and diversity.
1. Mintzberg, H. (1979). The Structuring of Organizations. Retrieved from: http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0907/ML090710600.pdf.
2. Schein, E. H. (1990). Organizational Culture. American Psychologist, 45(2), 109-199. Retrieved from: http://www.scribd.com/doc/93426611/Schein-1990-Organizational-Culture.