Essays on Mintzbergs Five Types of Organizational Structure Coursework

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The paper "Mintzberg’ s Five Types of Organizational Structure" is a great example of management coursework. Henry Mintzberg suggests that organizations can be differentiated using three major dimensions. These dimensions include the fundamental part of the organization which is the part that determined success or failure of the organization, the major coordinating mechanism which is the major means that organization applies when coordinating the business activities, and form of decentralization applied which is the level to which an organization involves the employees during the process of decision making (Mintzberg, 1992).

Using these three major dimensions, Mintzberg proposes that the strategy adopted by an organization and the extent to which it practices the strategy results to five types of organizational structures that include; machine, innovation, entrepreneurial, professional and division listed form. Entrepreneurial The entrepreneurial, also known as the simple structure is driven by entrepreneurial-minded individuals. The structure uses direct supervision and applies both vertical and horizontal centralization. Examples of the simple structure are startup companies managed by the founders, small elementary schools and medium-sized retail stores (Mintzberg, 1992). The organization structure consists of one top manager, monitoring and managing few workers.

The organization needs small support staff and employee often performs overlapping tasks. Common strengths within this type of organizational structure include forward-thinking ideas, enthusiasm and energy. The structure is also characterized by various drawbacks and limitations such as poor discipline, inefficiency and management control. Despite having drawbacks, this organizational structure has the ability to adapt rapidly to environmental changes. Machine Bureaucracy According to Mintzberg, a highly bureaucratic organization is like a machine. Mintzberg referred to these organizations as machines because technostructure is the organization’ s integral part, applies standardization of work processes and uses the limited horizontal decentralization.

These organizational structures are characterized with what Weber (Cox, 2010) terms as ideal bureaucracy. There is a high level of work specialization and formalization, and centralized decisions. Other characteristics of this organizational structure are that there exist many levels in the command chain from the organization’ s top management to the bottom. The support staff and technostructure are also large. Examples of machine bureaucracy include government agencies and steel companies. The environment of these organizations is stable and the main aim is the achievement of internal efficiency (Mintzberg, 1992).

While the strengths of such organizations lie on the structure, stability and durability, these organizations have limited openness to adapt to new perspectives and there is the frequent occurrence of inefficiencies due to the bureaucratic process. Professional bureaucracy Although the professional organizational structure is similar to machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy has the operating core as its major part. The organization used skills standardization as its major mechanism of coordination and applies both horizontal and vertical type of decentralization. The structure is characterized by high levels of professionalism and competent employees who drive the core business of the organization.

As Mintzberg (1992) argues, the organization is formalized but at the same time, decentralized to provide the professional with autonomy. In this structure, the top management is small, with few middle-level managers. The size of the techno-structure is generally smaller. The major function of the support staff to provide critical clerical and maintenance support for the professionals. The main objective of this type of organizational structure is to innovate and provide services that are of high quality.

Operating in a complex but steady environment, the size professional bureaucracy ranges from large to small size. This structure often faces coordination problems. An example of this type of organization includes large law firms, universities and hospitals. These organizations provide complex services through professionals that are highly trained in an atmosphere characterized by structural looseness (Mintzberg, 1992). University professors perform their roles in classroom settings, isolated from colleagues and superiors but maintain contact with their students. Moreover, they are highly trained professionals that give the students information within their own style of teaching.

Specifically, the professionals have specialized skills and work autonomy and make a more decentralized decision as compared to the machinery bureaucracy.


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Mintzberg, H. (1992). Structure in fives: Designing effective organizations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Mintzberg, H. (2009). Tracking strategies: Toward a general theory of strategy formation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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