Theory and organizations

Still other theorists are developing a resurgence of interest in complexity theory and organizations, and have focused on how simple structures can be used to engender organizational adaptations. For instance, Miner et al. (2000) studied how simple structures could be used to generate improvisational outcomes in product development. Their study makes links to simple structures and improviseal learning. Other scholars such as Jan Rivkin and Sigglekow[4], and Nelson Repenning [5] revive an older interest in how structure and strategy relate in dynamic environments.

Functional structure In a functional structure, the division of labor in an organization is grouped by the main activities or functions that need to be performed within the organization—sales, marketing, human resources, and so on. Each functional group within the organization is vertically integrated from the bottom to the top of the organization. For example, a ebay ansoff matrix would lead all the marketing people, grouped into the marketing department.

Employees within the functional divisions of an organization tend to perform a specialized set of tasks, for instance the engineering department would be staffed only with engineers. This leads to operational efficiencies within that group. However it could also lead to a lack of communication between the functional groups within an organization, making the organization slow and inflexible. As a whole, a functional organization is best suited as a producer of standardized goods and services at large volume and low cost.

Coordination and specialization of tasks are centralized in a functional structure, which makes producing a limited amount of products or services efficient and predictable. Moreover, efficiencies can further be realized as functional organizations integrate their activities vertically so that products are sold and distributed quickly and at low cost [6]. For instance, a small business could start making the components it requires for production of its products instead of procuring it from an external organization.

[edit] Divisional structure Also called a “product structure”, the divisional structure groups each organizational function into a divisions. Each division within a divisional structure contains all the necessary resources and functions within it. Divisions can be categorized from different points of view. There can be made a distinction on geograpical basis (an US division and an EU division) or on product/service basis (different products for different customers: households or companies).

Another example, an automobile company with a divisional structure might have one division for SUVs, another division for subcompact cars, and another division for sedans. Each division would have its own sales, engineering and marketing departments. [edit] Matrix structure The matrix structure groups employees by both function and product. This structure can combine the best of both separate structures. A matrix organization frequently uses teams of employees to accomplish work, in order to take advantage of the strengths, as well as make up for the weaknesses, of functional and decentralized forms.

An example would be a company that produces two products, “product a” and “product b”. Using the matrix structure, this company would organize functions within the company as follows: “product a” sales department, “product a” customer service department, “product a” accounting, “product b” sales department, “product b” customer service department, “product b” accounting department. Matrix structure is the most complex of the different organizational structures.


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