The nature and purpose of organizing


It is often said that good people can make any organization pattern work. Some even assert that vagueness in organization is a good thing in that it forces teamwork, since people know that they must cooperate to get anything done. However, there can be no doubt that good people and those who want to cooperate will work together most effectively if they know the roles they are to play in any team operation and the way their roles relate to one another. This is as true in business or government as it is in football or in a symphony orchestra. Designing and maintaining these systems of roles is basically the managerial function of organizing.

For an organizational role to exist and be meaningful to people, it must incorporate

(1) Verifiable objectives, which, as indicated in part, are a major part of planning;

(2) a clear idea of the major duties or activities involved, and

(3) An understood area of discretion or authority so that the person filling the role knows what he or she can do to accomplish goals.

In addition, to make a role work out effectively, provision should be made for supplying needed information and other tools necessary for performance in that role.

It is in this sense that we think of organizing as (1) the identification and classification of required activities, (2) the grouping of activities necessary to attain objectives, (3) the assignment of each grouping to a manager with the authority (delegation) necessary to supervise it, and (4) the provision for coordination horizontally (on the same or similar organizational level) and vertically (e.g. corporate headquarters, division, and department) in the organization structure.

An organization structure should be designed to clarify who is to do what tasks and who is responsible for what results, to remove obstacles to performance caused by confusion and uncertainty of assignment, and to furnish decision-making and communication networks reflecting and supporting enterprise objectives.

“Organization� is a word many people use loosely. Some would say it includes all the behavior of all participants. Others would equate it with the total system of social and cultural relationships. Still others refer to an enterprise, such as the United States Steel Corporation or the Department of Defense, as an “organization.� But for most practicing managers, the term organization implies a formalized intentional structure of roles or positions. In this article the term is generally used in reference to a formalized structure of roles, although it is sometimes used to denote an enterprise.

What does “intentional structure of roles� mean? In the first place, as already implied in defining the nature and content of organizational roles, people working together must fill certain roles. In the second place, the roles people are asked to fill should be intentionally designed to ensure that required activities are done and that activities fit together so that people can work smoothly, effectively, and efficiently in groups. Certainly most managers believe they are organizing when they establish such an intentional structure.