Meaning of the term “organization”

The tendency to downplay organizational factors in executive behavior stems from misunderstanding of the term “organization.” To many persons, an organization is embodied in charts or elaborate manuals of job descriptions and formal procedures. In such charts and manuals the organization takes on more the appearance of a series of orderly cubicles following an abstract architectural logic than a house inhabited by human beings. And the charting and manual-writing activities of the Departments of Organization that one finds in large corporations and govern-cations and relations among a group of human beings, including the processes for making and implementing decisions. This pattern provides to organization members much of the information and many of the assumptions, goals, and attitudes that enter into their decisions, and provides also a set of stable and comprehensible expectations as to what the other members of the group are doing and how they will react to what one says and does. The sociologist calls this pattern a “role system”; we are concerned with the form of role system known as an “organization.”

Much of what an executive does has its principal short-run effect on day- to-day operations. The executive makes a decision about a product price, a contract for materials, the location of a plant, or an employee’s grievance. Each decision has the immediate effect of settling the specific question at hand. But the most important cumulative effect of this stream of decisions and refusals to decide—like the erosion caused by a steady trickle of water—is upon the patterns of action in the organization surrounding the executive. How will the next contract be made? Will it be brought to the executive at all, or handled by subordinates? What preparatory work will have been done before it reaches the executive, and what policies will guide those who handle it? And after the next contract, what about the next ten and the next hundred?

Every executive makes decisions and takes actions with one eye on the matter at hand and one eye on the effect of this decision upon the future pattern—that is to say, upon its organizational consequences.

Source: Simon Herbert A. (1997), Administrative Behavior, Free Press; Subsequent edition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *