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Discussion – Organization Design

Discussion – Organization Design

All people have in one way or another participated or interacted with a form of organization, be it in schools, hospitals, workplaces, or government agencies. Therefore, organizations have a significant impact on people’s lives. This makes it an important area of study. Throughout history, many theorists and scholars have studied organizations and tried to determine how they work. This paper summarizes the historical perspective of organizational design and how various theories and models affect real organizations.

The Historical Perspective on the Development of Organization Design

            The study of organizations and their structures can be traced back to the ancient periods. There are some Biblical references as well as references by popular philosophers such as Plato and Socrates. Nonetheless, the study of organizations as known today began in the 18th century with the classists. Significant figures in classism built foundations for understanding organizational structures (Hill, Jones, & Schilling, 2014). Some of the fundamental tenets of organizational theory according to classists include but are not limited to the following;

  • Organizations exist for the purpose of accomplishing economic goals
  • Division of labor and specialization helps to maximize productivity.
  • Organizations and people act in accordance with rational economic principles.

More theories, models, and paradigms on organizations have been developed since then. Some of these theories include the contingency and systems theory, chaos and complexity theory, mechanistic vs organic models, and various organization structural forms.

Theories, Models, and Paradigms that apply to Organization Design

            The following are some of the theories, models, and paradigms that apply in designing organizations;

Contingency and Systems Theory

This theory is based on the assumption that the effectiveness of management is based on contingency. For management to be effective, there needs to be an interplay between certain behaviors and specific contexts. In other words, the particular management style that is selected by a given organization should be dependent on the situation (Gharajedaghi, 2011). The strategies and processes that may be effective should be dependent on the context in which they are applied.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

The chaos and complexity theory uses scientific concepts to explain the systems of organizations and how they function. This theory argues that organizations are made of dynamic structures that impact how people within an organization act and interact with each other. The chaos theory argues that a change in these structures has an impact on the functioning of the entire organization (Gharajedaghi, 2011). The complexity theory explains the complex structures interact with each other to bring out unexpected results in the organization. This theory helps to understand how to structure interactions to develop a successful organization (Gharajedaghi, 2011). There are two main paradigms that explain the systems that make up an organization.

Mechanistic vs Organic Paradigm

            A mechanistic structure is a system of organization that is based on a formal and centralized network. This model of organization has a hierarchical leadership structure. This paradigm views life as a competitive struggle for existence. Thus, there is control and administration of others through the bureaucratic system of organization.

On the other hand, the organic model seeks to find a balance of resources and their effects on the entire organizational ecosystem. As opposed to the mechanistic structures, this paradigm does not believe in the need for dominance. Instead, governance is set up in a network where communication and collaboration are lateral between the organizational members.

Organizational Structures

There are other structures that explain how organizations are set up and how different set-ups affect how the members of the organization act and interact with each other. Some of the structures that explain organizations include the simple structure, bureaucracy, hybrid structures, and adhocracy (Galbraith, 2002). A simple structure of the organization is one where there is no departmentalization and the leadership is centralized to one person. In a bureaucracy, there are functional departments that are guided by rules and regulations and a centralized authority. A hybrid structure combines the elements of the organic and the mechanistic models of organization. Lastly, an adhocracy is an organization that is set up to be flexible to the complex changes that occur in an organization.

Connections between Theories, Models, and Paradigms that apply to Organization Design and the activities of a real Organization

            The various theories and concepts of organization as discussed above can be seen in the ways that organizations in real life are set up. Many organizations make use of the concepts developed by various scholars and theories throughout history to enhance the performance of their businesses. For example, an organization like Whole Foods is one that has achieved success because of its ability to make use of a hybrid structure of organization. This business has a hierarchal management structure while at the same time being divided into various departments where an organic structure of organization is utilized. As such, the employees in this organization answer both to the top management and to the managers of the various departments they work for. This example shows that various management concepts that are earned in this course are applied by real organizations and are helping them implement their respective strategies.


Galbraith, J. R. (2002). Designing organizations: Strategy, Structure and Process and the Business Unit and Enterprise Levels.

Gharajedaghi, J. (2011). Systems thinking: Managing chaos and complexity: A platform for designing business architecture. Elsevier.

Hill, C. W., Jones, G. R., & Schilling, M. A. (2014). Strategic management: theory: an integrated approach. Cengage Learning.


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Discussion - Organization Design

Discussion – Organization Design

The purpose of the course is to help you understand the combined impact of structure, learning, and performance in organizations, referred to as organization design. Your course project leads you through a process that will enhance your understanding of this topic. The first step is to become acquainted with some of the theories, paradigms, and models related to organization design. In this assignment, you will write a short paper on the relationship between the concepts discussed in the Background Paper and the course project information.
Read the Background Paper and the course project information.
In a 2-page paper:
• Outline a historical perspective on the development of organization design.
• Explain theories, models, and paradigms that apply to organization design.
• Identify connections between theories, models, or paradigms related to organization design and the activities of a real organization.
Note: You may want to think about using an organization that you can write about later in your course project.

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