General Overview: So far, our class has explored approaches to leading organizations at the individual and group levels. Organizational design helps us lead the organization at the highest level, managing the behavior of all employees across the company. Design has two components: structure and culture. Structure is the more tangible of the two components. It refers to the actual framework of a company. It is the explicit set of guidelines and arrangements that direct the way workers perform tasks and interact with one another. Culture is more intangible and implicit; it is the set of beliefs and values of the company’s owners and workers. Both components help the leader control and coordinate the things all employees across the organization do.
The first three assigned readings provide an introduction to the language and basic concepts needed to build a foundation for understanding organizational structure and culture. The pages assigned from the Frost and Purdy article provide a good discussion of some of the main ideas and should be read quickly1 as a structure and culture “primer.”
Pages from the Sine, Mitsuhashi, and Kirsch article discuss organizational structure in more detail. These pages come from the introduction to a research study the authors perform. Don’t be distracted by their written hypotheses (all of which are supported). Instead, read this short passage for the way the authors nicely sum up the differences between taller, more structured (what they call “bureaucratic”) companies and flatter, more loosely-structured (what they call “organic”) companies. As they describe these differences, they succinctly summarize key dimensions (“attributes”)2 of structure for us and help us start to think about the way different kinds of companies may benefit from more or less structure.
The reading by Sørensen is a nice summary of what we need to know about organizational culture. When reading this note, first look for the basic...