An early study in this area found that:
1. Organizations functioning within a stable external environment typically had formal internal organizational structures with clearly established and observed operating procedures and rules, and a well defined hierarchy of authority. Within such organizations, decision making was typically top-down in character. This type of internal organizational structure was termed mechanistic in character.
2. Organizations functioning within a dynamic external environment frequently were found to chaotic in character-- defined by Daft (1992, p. 71) as "much looser, free flowing, and adaptive. Rules and regulations were not written down, or if written down were ignored. People had to find their own way through the system to figure out what to do. The hierarchy of authority was not clear. Decision-making authority was decentralized." This type of internal organizational structure was termed organic in character.
The major differences between mechanistic and organic structures of organizations are presented in Exhibit 1, which may be found below on this page. As the information presented in the exhibit indicate, the mechanistic organization tends to be formal and somewhat forbidding, while the organic organization tends to be highly informal and somewhat chaotic.
Comparison of Major Characteristics of Mechanistic and Organic Organizational Structures
Characteristic Mechanistic Organic
--------------------- -------------------- --------------------
Task responsibility Specific, separate, Common and specialized
Task definition Rigid Adjustable and redefinable through
Hierarchy of Strict wit...
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