Organizations are defined as a bunch of people who work interdependently towards some goal.
For these groups to successfully execute their assigned purposes and goals, there must be some level of strategic coordination that will facilitate a level of collaboration that is both effective and efficient. This necessary coordination reflects the organizational structure, broadly categorized as either organic or mechanistic.
Characteristics of organic and mechanistic structures
The mechanistic structure is defined as a precarious span of control, indicating a vertical and tall structure with many hierarchical layers. Authority in mechanistic structures is centralized with power maintained at the top of the firm. They typically have a tremendous degree of formalization, with lots of rules, standardizations, and procedures. The flow of communication is like the arrangement, vertical as opposed to horizontal.
The organic structure is the opposite. It has an extensive span of control, making the system horizontal and more extended. Decision making is decentralized down into the firm. Instead of uniformity, organic structures are much more flexible and informal.
Choosing the best organizational structure
To some levels, both types of systems are necessary for every organization. The external and internal environmental dynamics of the organization determine the degree of organic or mechanistic characteristics that are most fitting at any given stage of organizational life. Most organizations begin in a straightforward form and become more complex as they expand and grow. Having a smaller number of employees, clients, and service lines creates a relatively stable ecosystem during which the mechanistic structure works best.
Stability is the supreme season for standardizing procedures and operating policies and establishing rules that create a fundamental framework for the organization. With fewer co-workers, the level of control can be taller and narrow, providing better supervision while casting employees in more specific roles during these critical startup periods, which could last for several years. This more elevated hierarchical structure also facilitates centralized decision making, which is appropriate when organizations develop culture and establish their position within their respective industries.
With the organization’s growth, two significant changes occur, which create the demand for a more organic-leaning structure. The first occurrence results from an increased customer base, product lines and the numerous services offered, which means the firm must hire more workers. Increased customer needs also require more specific customer service, which means more businesses. New departments will constrain the production of new roles for those areas. New product lines will create more excellent knowledge of the legal environment about those products. These new hurdles may require evolving standardized procedures to mirror the new demands, which increasingly disrupts the carefully-planned routinized processes and policies of the mechanistic structure.
Organizational growth is defined by accelerated change, generating the need for a greater level of coordination throughout the firm. This coordination revolves around the quality of collaboration between departments and employees, which is better carried forward with the department’s structure consistent with the organic system. It means organizing with networks of people and team and increasing horizontal communication capability, which fosters information sharing, which necessarily empowers employees in lower positions to make swift and quality decisions in those rapidly-shifting ecosystems. It does not mitigate the need for the vertical dimension, but it creates a more horizontal dimension as a chosen alternative.