The structure and process of organizing

Looking at organizing as a process requires that several fundamentals be considered. In the first place, the structure must reflect objectives and plans, because activities derive from them. In the second place, it must reflect the authority available to an enterprise’s management. Authority in a given organization is a socially determined right to exercise discretion; as such, it is subject to change.

In the third place, organization structure, like any plan, must reflect its environment. Just as the premises of a plan may be economic, technological, political, social, or ethical, so may be those of an organization structure. It must be designed to work, to permit contributions by members of a group, and to help people gain objectives efficiently in a changing future. In this sense, a workable organization structure can never be static. There is no single organization structure that works best in all kinds of situations. An effective organization structure depends on the situation.

In the fourth place, since the organization is staffed with people, the grouping of activities and the authority relationships of an organization structure must take into account people’s limitations and customs. This is not to say that the structure must be designed around individuals instead of around goals and accompanying activities. But an important consideration is the kind of people who are to staff it.

The Logic of Organizing

Although steps 1 and 2 are actually part of planning, the organizing process consists of the following six steps:

* Establishing enterprise objectives.
* Formulating supporting objectives, policies, and plans.
* Identifying and classifying the activities necessary to accomplish these.
* Grouping these activities in the light of the human and material resources available and the best way under the circumstances, of using them.
* Delegating to the head of each group the authority necessary to perform the activities.
* Tying the groups together horizontally and vertically, through authority relationships and information flows.

Some Misconceptions

Organizing does not imply any extreme occupational specialization, which in many instances makes labor uninteresting, tedious, and unduly restrictive. There is nothing in organization itself that dictates this. To say that tasks should be specific is not to say they must be limited and mechanical. Whether they should be broken down into minute parts — as on a typical assembly line — or be defined broadly enough to encompass the design, production, and sale of a machine is for the organizer to consider in light of the results desired. In any organization, jobs can be defined to allow little or no personal leeway or the widest possible discretion. One must not forget that there is no best way to organize and that the application of structural organization theory must take into account the situation.

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