Essays on Summary Article
Summary of articles The open systems approach to organizational structure holds that it is dependent upon the environment; hence congruence between the environment and organizational structure is likely to lead to good organizational performance. The technological approach holds that organizational performance is dependent upon the technology it employs. In their article, Randolph and Dess (1984) have pointed out that a multivariate model integrating environment, technology and structure does not exist and this is the limitation they seek to address by developing a theoretical model of strategic choice for organizational design. Their model is premised on just such a multivariate approach and the congruency of all the elements, which can be applied n the case of small businesses or within specific divisions of large organizations.
The central premise of the model is that organizational design is the result of strategic choices made by executives in an interactive environment with technology as the link, hence it is also an organizational development model. Executive decisions are made in an environment of uncertainty, hence the external environment and the choice of product and/or market is also applied in this model, which proposes that the congruence between the environment and technology and between technology and organizational structure are important because they will determine the nature and type of strategic decisions that are taken by management.
The model proposed by Randolph and Dess (1984) thus effectively provides for a multivariate analysis of organizational design, unlike previous models that have focused on only one variable. It also does not ignore the inter-linking between the environment, technology and structure in strategic decision making and may thus allow scope for greater accuracy in assessment of the decision making process. This model can also help to assess the importance of perceived and objective measures in a firm’s environment, thus adding further clarity and accuracy to assessment of strategic decision making in an organization. The model also provides scope for further investigation of the organizational design process and its implication on the firm’s performance…..330 words
The article by Hickson et al (no date) in their Paper, present a hypothetical strategic contingencies theory to explain the concept of power in organizations. While most organizational research is premised on power as the prime mover in all kinds of decision making, morale and alienation, a theoretical explanation for power itself has not yet been put forth. This is the lacunae the authors seek to address. Earlier studies of power have focused on individuals rather than departmental power, thus this study adopts an approach wherein power is the property of the social relationship.
The authors state that organizations may be conceived of as interdepartmental systems where uncertainty is one of the major elements that must be coped with. The degree of power that one group will have will be dependent upon the extent to which he can fulfil the requirements of another sub-group and will control accordingly, the activities of the other group. Power can thus become a coercive force. The element of uncertainty existing in the environment will also influence the extent and kind of power that is exerted within organizations. They propose a hypothesis which states that the higher the level of uncertainty that a sub-unit within the organization copes with, the greater will be its power within the organization. This hypothesis ignores the effects of centrality and sustainability. Additional hypotheses are that the more pervasive the workflows of a sub-unit in the organization and the higher the immediacy of its workflows, the greater its power.
However, the authors point out that no single hypothesis can function in isolation. Any hypothesis pertaining to power must take into account the ability to cope with uncertainty, centrality and substitutability. In order to express the interrelation between these variables, the authors propose the hypothesis that the more contingencies the sub unit controls, the greater the power it will have. A contingency as defined by these authors pertains to decision making and power of action in an uncertain environment where the activities of one sub unit are influenced by the activities of another subunit.
* Hickson, D.J., Hinings, C.R., Lee, C.A., Schneck, R.E. and Pennings, J.M.,. “ A Strategic Contingencies Theory of intra-organizational Power”, Administrative Science Quarterly, 216-229
* Randolph, W.Alan and Dess, Gregory G, 1984. “The Congruence perspective of organizational design:a conceptual model and multivariate approach”, Academy of Management. The Academy of Management Review, 9: 114-127