The theme of this chapter is that an organization’s internal structure contributes to explaining and predicting behavior. That is, in addition to individual and group factors, the structural relationships in which people work have a bearing on employee attitudes and behavior.
What is the basis for the argument that structure has an impact on both attitudes and behavior? To the degree that an organization’s structure reduces ambiguity for employees and clarifies such concerns as “What am I supposed to do?,” “How am I supposed to do it?,” “To whom do I report?,” and “To whom do I go if I have a problem?” it shapes their attitudes and facilitates and motivates them to higher levels of performance.
Of course, structure also constrains employees to the extent that it limits and controls what they do. For example, organizations structured around high levels of formalization and specialization, strict adherence to the chain of command, limited delegation of authority, and narrow spans of control give employees little autonomy. Controls in such organizations are tight, and behavior will tend to vary within a narrow range. In contrast, organizations that are structured around limited specialization, low formalization, and wide spans of control provide employees greater freedom and, thus, will be characterized by greater behavioral diversity.
Exhibit 15-11 visually summarizes what we will discuss in this chapter. Strategy, size, technology, and environment determine the type of structure an organization will have. For simplicity’s sake, we can classify structural designs around one of two models: mechanistic or organic. The specific effect of structural designs on performance and satisfaction is moderated by employees’ individual preferences and cultural norms.
One last point: Managers need to be reminded that structural variables such as work specialization, span of control, formalization, and centralization are objective characteristics that can be measured by...