Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Horizontal Integration

In the last byte, we looked at vertical integration linkage. In today's byte, we look at the horizontal integrator mechanisms.

As mentioned earlier, horizontal integration mechanism provides the communication and coordination that is required across the different jobs and departments in the organization. The need for such horizontal linkages increses as the complexity of the organization increases. When built into the organization, the forms these linkages could take forms like liason roles, task force, integrator positions and teams. 

Liason roles is created when a person in one department has the responsibility to coordinate with the other department. Task force are temporary committees composed of representatives from multiple deparments and focus on solving specific problem.
The strongest means of horizontal integration is through teams.
Note that these linkage mechanisms vary from organization to organization, as well asaa within the same organization. A simple observation is that the flatter the organization, the more necessary are horizontal mechanisms.
We next look at the various dimensions of org design.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Vertical Integration

In the last byte, we began our discussion on integrations and the role it plays in an organization. In today's byte, we look at vertical linkages.

Vertical linkages as mentioned earlier used to integrate activities up and down the organizational chain of command. Many structural devices can be used to achieve vertical linkages viz - hierarchical referrals, rules and procedures, plans and schedules, positions added to the structure of the organization, and management information systems.

The vertical lines on an organization chart indicate the referral up and down the organization. While work is delegated down the organization chart, when an employee has a doubt he refers up to the chart for consideration and resolution.
The various vertical integration linkage mechanism help the manager have a wider span of control. The employee handbook, procedures etc reduce the demand on the manager's time to focus each employee  and could choose to manage only in exceptional situations.
For a greater understanding, one would need to think of each linkage mechanism.

Monday, April 28, 2014


In the last  byte, we looked at complexity and the relationship the different differentiation. In today's byte, we look at integration.

Integration refers to the process of coordinating the different parts of an organization.
The purpose of any integration mechanisms are designed to achieve unity among individuals and groups in various jobs, departments, and divisions in the accomplishments of organizational goals and tasks.
One could understand the role of integration to be that of maintaining a equilibrium in the dynamic state of affairs - a condition in which all the parts of the organization are inter-related and balanced.
We could achieve this through two broad ways:
  1. Vertical linkages
  2. Horizontal linkages

Vertical linkages are used to integrate activities up and down the organization's chain of command. Horizontal integration mechanisms provide the communication and coordination that is necessary for linkages across jobs and departments in the organization.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Complexity and Differentiation

In the last byte, we discussed about spacial differentiation. In today's byte, we look at the the different differentiation in combination. 

Horizontal, Vertical and Spacial Differentiation indicates the amount of width, height and breadth an organizational structure needs. A lot of distribution on any one of these dimensions doesnt necessarily mean that it is distributed on all other dimensions as well. 
As an example Imagine an university - one could find a very great horizontal differentiation, but relatively little vertical differentiation. On the other hand, consider the case of a large company like Coca-Cola: It would have a great level on all three dimensions.
What one needs to remember is that the more structurally differentiated the organization is, the more complex it would be.
We have used the term "complexity" a  lot. Complexity refers to the number of activities, subunits or subsystems with the organization. It has been suggested that organization's complexity should mirror the complexity of the environment.
As the complexity of an organization increases, its need for mechanisms to link and coordinate the different parts of the organization increases phenomenally. Failure to coordinate effectively could lead the orientation towards the organization goal to disappear
With the need for linkage and coordination establish, we shall next move towards understanding integration.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spacial Differentiation

In the last byte, we looked at vertical differentiation. In today's byte, we look at spacial differentiation.

Spacial Differentiation refers to the geographic dispersion of an organizational's office, plants and personnel. Increasing the number of locations increases the complexity of organizatgional design, but this may be necessary for organizational goal achievement or organizational protection.
An implication of this suggestion would mean that organizations intending to open their branch in another company could do it by creating a subsidiary with partial ownership by the main organization while could be managed by the citizen of the country.
This could also offer the organization political and legal advantages in a country because it could be identified as a local company. Distance is as important as political and legal issues in making spacial differentiation decisions.
In the next byte, we continue the discussion on the various differentiations.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vertical Differentiation

In the last byte, we discussed about horizontal differentiation and specialization. In today's byte, we look at Vertical Differentiation. 

Vertical Differentiation is the difference in authority and responsibility in the organizational hierarchy. Two broad categories could be thought off in vertical differentiation
  1. Tall, Narrow organization
  2. Flat, Wide organization
Tall, narrow organizations have greater vertical differentiation while flat, wide organization have lesser vertical differentiation.
Two components help determine the height of the organization - the level of horizontal differentiation and the span of control.
Tall structures are often characterized by closer supervision and tighter control. This also increases communication overheads as the message has to pass through multiple layers. Flat structures on the other hand have simpler communication but have reduced opportunities for promotion.
The degree of vertical differentiation affects organizational effectiveness - but one would need to consider organizational size, job types, skills, employee's personal characteristics, degrees of freedom etc when determining organizational effectiveness.
Note: Span of control refers to the number of subordinates a manager can and should supervise.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Horizontal Differentiation

In the last byte, we looked at the various orientations that differentiate different tasks and the various types there in. In today's byte, we look the horizontal differentiation.

Horizontal differentiation refers to the degree of differentiation between organizational subunits and is based on employee's specialized knowledge, education, or training. An example of the above could be two university professors who teach specialized subjects in different academic departments are subject to horizontal differentiation. Horizontal differentiation increases with specialization and departmentalization.
Specialization refers to the particular grouping of activities performed by an individual. The degree of specialization or the division of labor in the organization gives an indication of how much training is needed, what the scope of jobs, what individual characteristics are needed for job holders etc
It is interesting to note that as specialization in a subject increases, a specialized vocabulary also develops eg. "OB" would mean organizational behavior to the professors of management and possibly "obstetrics" to the professors in medicine.
The more specialized the jobs within an organization the more departments are differentiated within that organization (i.e. greater the departmentalization). Departmentalization can be by function, product, service, client, geography, process, or some combination of these.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dimensions of Differentiation

In the last byte, we looked at the role an organization chart plays in designing organization structure. In today's byte, we look at differentiation in greater detail.
As mentioned earlier, differentiation is the process of deciding how to divide the work in an organization. It ensures that all essential organizational tasks are assigned to one or more jobs and that the tasks receive the attention they need.
There are 4 dimensions of differentiation that have to be considered in designing organization:
  1. Manager's goal orientation
  2. Time Orientation
  3. Interpersonal Orientation
  4. Formality of structure
Differentiation could be further classified into three different forms:
  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • Spatial

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Organizational Chart

In the last byte, we looked at the definition of differentiation and integration and its relation to the organizational design and structure. In today's byte, we continue the discussion further on organizational structure - specifically a brief on organizational chart.
As mentioned earlier, organizational chart is a visible representation of the organization's stucture and its underlying components. Most organizations have a series of organizational charts showing reporting relationships throughout the system. Some of the components represented in an organizational structure are:

  • Formal likes of authority and reponsibility
  • Formal systems of communication, coordination and integartions.

Through the first point listed above, the organizational structure designates reporting relationships in the way jobs and departments are grouped.
The second point mentioned above summarizes the fact that, organizational structure designates the expected patterns of formal interaction among employees.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Differentiation and Integration:Definition

In the last byte, we began our discussion on the larger concept of organizational design and structure. In today's byte, we define the concepts of differentiation and integration.

  • Differentiation is the process of deciding how to divide the work in an organization
  • Integration is the process of coordinating the different parts of an organization
Differentiation is the design process of breaking the organizational goal into tasks and integration is the design process of linking the tasks together to forma a structure that supports goal accomplishments.
These two processes are really the key to designing the organization successfully. Organization structure helps prevent chaos through an orderly set of reporting relationships and communication challenges.
An understanding of the key design processes and organizational structure helps an individual understand the larger working environment and may prevent confusion in the organization.This organizational structure and the underlying components are represented through an organizational chart.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Organizational Design & Structure

In the last byte, we looked at the managerial implications of the discussion on work/task design. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on Organization Design.

Organization design refers to the process of constructing and adjusting an organization's structure to achieve its goals.
The starting point of this design process is the organization's goals - these goals are then broken down into tasks as the basis for jobs. These jobs are grouped into departments [Recollect the earlier discussion on the business functions here] and these departments are linked into forming the organizational structure.

Going ahead we shall discuss about:
  1. Design Processes of Differentiation and Integration
  2. Design dimensions of an organizational structure
  3. Structural Configurations of organizations
  4. Size, technology, environment, strategy and goal - their inter relations
  5. Forces shaping today's organization

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Managerial implications of the discussion on work design

In the last byte, we looked at counter-role behavior. In today's byte we look at the managerial implications in the changing nature of work.

In addition to the managerial expertise, it is important that manager have to have a wide range of nontechnical skills to be effective in their work. The following thought would be extremely important. 

Work forms an important aspect of a healthy life - it satisfies two central needs in human nature - engaging in productive work and forming healthy relationship with others. Given that the meaning of work means different things depending on the culture; the design of jobs mus be done with a sensitivity to cultural values and beliefs.
Managers would need to craft work tasks and assignments that fit the jobs to people who are doing them. There is no universally accepted way of designing work. The changing nature of work mandates that managers find new ways to define work and design jobs.
Flexibility is crucial in job design in the modern era. Dramatic global, economic and organizational changes dictate the managers to be flexible in job/work design in organizations.
Another important aspect to make note of is the role technology that has evolved since the nature of work has changed.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Counter Role Behavior and Task Revision

In the last byte, we began looking at the concept of task revision. We continue the discussion in today's byte with a short discussion on counter role behavior. 

Counter Role Behavior often happens when the incumbent acts contrary to the expectations of the role or exhibits deviant behavior. This raises an issue if the role is correctly defined - lets take an example to understand the same.
Lets take the example of a nursing supervisor who displays counter-role behavior. Imagine a scenario where the nursing supervisor decides to simply trust the nurses and not verify the medication that the in charge nurse is expected to provide and this results in a fatality!
Clearly when a role or task is correctly and properly defined, counter-role behavior leads to poor performance if not a fatality as indicated in the above example.
Task-revision is a counter-role behavior in an incorrectly specified role, and is a useful way to correct the problem in any role specification. Task revision thus is a form or role innovation that could help long-term adaptation when the current role specification is no longer applicable.