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Mintzberg s five types of organization structure: In what way does Mintzberg’s ideas constitute an advance over earlier theories of organizational structure?

Contents

Introduction. 2

Overview of Mintzberg’s Five Types of Organization Structure. 2

Comparison between Mintzberg’s Theory and Earlier Theories of Organizational Structure. 3

Ways in Which Mintzberg’s Ideas Constitute an Advance over Earlier Theories of Organizational Structure. 8

Conclusion. 11

References. 12

Introduction

Henry Mintzberg is a renowned scholar who has theorized widely in the areas of business and management. Mintzberg came up with a theory that places organizational structures into five categories. This categorization provides insights into how organizations come up with different operational structures in order to increase productivity. For instance, the simple structure is ideal for managers who want to embrace the environment of flexibility that is a crucial requirement for entrepreneurial thinking while the machine bureaucracy is suited to organizations that seek to promote the traditional approach to management. The aim of this paper is to describe Mintzberg’s five types of organization structure with a view to explore the ways in which these ideas constitute an advance over earlier theories of organizational structure.

Overview of Mintzberg’s Five Types of Organization Structure

The five categories of organization structure that Mintzberg (1980) developed include simple structure (entrepreneurial organization), machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, divisionalized (diversified) form, and adhocracy (innovative organization). The simple structure is characterized by a large unit where operations are overseen by a few top executives and standardized systems are lacking, thereby creating room for flexibility. Typical examples of simple structures include new government departments, medium-sized retail stores, and relatively small corporations.

In contrast, the machine bureaucracy is characterized by standardization, whereby work is highly formalized through procedures and routines within a centralized structure. Starbucks may be considered a classic example of machine bureaucracy because it has achieved success through meticulously standardized structures that produce cheap and highly efficient products.

On the other hand, the professional bureaucracy is like a machine bureaucracy only that it depends on trained professionals who insist on taking control of their own work, leading to the decentralization of decision-making. The divisionalized form occurs in organizations with many different business units and product lines. The last type of organization structure is the adhocracy, which Mintzberg (1980) associates with new industries that must innovate in an “ad hoc” basis in order to survive. Such industries endeavour to avoid complexity, bureaucracy, and centralization.

Comparison between Mintzberg’s Theory and Earlier Theories of Organizational Structure

            Mintzberg’s theory is similar to earlier theories of organizational structure in several ways. To begin with, it resembles Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory in the way is defines the machine bureaucracy (Taylor, 2004). Frederick Taylor proposed a theory in which working would be replaced by ‘rule of thumb’, and scientific methods would be relied on to determine how specific tasks can be performed in the most efficient way. In other words, Taylor treated humans as cogs in the assembly line. Mintzberg’s notion of machine bureaucracy seems to build on Taylor’s theory in terms of how to enhance performance among workers.

            Moreover, the role of managers in planning work and designing training has been recognized in earlier theories. Mintzberg builds on the information provided in these theories to describe how various organizations operate. Like many earlier theories, Mintzberg uses organizational typologies to describe differences in the way organizations are structured (Borgatti & Foster, 2003). A good example of earlier theorists who used typology in organizational theory is French & Raven (1959); these researchers identified five types of power: power-reward, coercive, referent, legitimate, and expert.

The idea of work standards as outlined in the machine bureaucracy has also been expressed in earlier theories. For example, Van Maanen & Schein (1977) examined the concept of organizational socialization. The idea of machine bureaucracy, like that of organizational socialization, offers insights on how workers become embedded into existing organizational structures through work.

Using these work standards, managers can control all the activities and strategies of the organization. According to Robbins & Judge (2012), the level of job specialization and formalization is very high whereas units are strictly functional and in most cases very large in this organizational structure. Moreover, the level of vertical centralization of power is high whereas horizontal decentralization is limited. This model is mostly common in stable environments where the element of simplicity is highly valued. This description fits well into large, old organizations, some of which are externally controlled. It is also common in mass production systems involving technical operations.

Existing theoretical conceptions on professionalism also seem to have influenced Mintzberg’s views on the professional bureaucracy. For example, Asch (1956) discusses the issues of independence and conformity, which are at the centre of Mintzberg’s professional bureaucracy. In Mintzberg’s typology, professionals expect to have a certain degree of independence from their superiors through minimum formalization of tasks and routines, and this is a crucial factor that differentiates the professional bureaucracy from the machine bureaucracy.

The idea of professional bureaucracy also brings into focus the theoretical debate on group and team development. Large organizations always rely on teams and groups for effectiveness in task performance (Forrester & Drexler, 1999). According to Forrester & Drexler (1999), team-based performance is about getting all the right pieces and putting them together by establishing connections between them. In organizational theory, a lot of focus has been on the various accountability processes that make team-based performance achievable. Mintzberg’s idea of professional bureaucracy alludes to the importance of these accountability processes through insights into employees’ level of ownership of organization’s work as well as their involvement in decision-making. Elements of power and control also contribute greatly to the way Mintzberg creates the image of a professional bureaucracy.

The main attributes of professional bureaucracy include the standardization of all skills, job specialization, extensive training, extensive decentralization both vertically and horizontally, and minimal formalization. Grouping is done on market and functional basis while operating units tends to be large-sized. Evidently, this type of structure is ideal for large, complex organizations operating in stable environments where technical systems are simple, straightforward, and non-regulating (Brivot, 2011). However, a major disadvantage with this type of structure is that the amount of control that senior managers can exercise over employees is limited because of the spread of power and authority along the hierarchy (Brivot, 2011). Professional bureaucracies are common in legal firms, universities, and hospitals, where authority is decentralized to employees because of the professional expertise that they possess.

According to Iedema, Rhodes & Sheeres (2006), serious problems relating to the exercise of power by senior executives may arise due to the volatility of everyday interactions particularly in environments characterized by participative-communicative forms of work. In such situations, it can be hard to bring about change within the organization. In the meantime, this issue may easily pave way for a debate on how senior executives operating in professional bureaucracies can employ different types of power (legitimate, expert, referent, reward, and coercive) to win the hearts and minds of their followers (Lunenburg, 2012).

In the divisionalized form, one may look at the issue of delegation and the way it has been addressed in earlier theories. The importance of coordinating market-based units through standardization of all outputs as well as performance control systems was being emphasized even before came up with his typology of organizational structure (Menguc, Auh & Shih, 2007). The objective was to define a theoretical basis for the tendency by companies to set up their headquarters in a central location while continuing to offer support to various divisions operating in different geographical locations. An example of a divisionalized form is General Motors, which in the 1920s established self-contained units, with each one operating in a fairly autonomous manner and the divisional head taking overall responsibility for performance.

The divisional structure is advantageous in the sense that line managers are able to maintain greater control than in the machine structure (Daft, 2010). Moreover, since day-to-day decision-making is decentralized, the central team acquires some requisite space to enable them to focus on broader strategic plans. However, the structure tends to be weak in the sense that resources and activities may be duplicated across divisions, leading to wastage. Moreover, divisions may be in conflict as they compete to get allocation for limited resources available at the headquarters. Organizations operating under this structure can at times be inflexible, meaning that the structure is most suited to stable organizations that are seeking to avoid functional complexity.

In contrast, to the divisionalized form, the idea of adhocracy is not supported in earlier theories. Earlier theories propose the idea of a high degree of formalization while adhocracy is based on the idea of a small degree of formalization (Pourezzat, & Attar, 2009). An adhocracy fits well in companies with small units characterized by a combination of market and functional bases within matrix structures, there is extensive use of liaison devices, and decentralization is inherent on both vertical and horizontal dimensions (Mintzberg, 1980). No researcher before Mintzberg provided this kind of perspective in efforts to develop a typology of organizational structure. A good example of an adhocracy is Facebook. At Facebook, power and control keeps shifting in a dynamic manner to reflect changes in the kind of innovative project being implemented. Power base in this social-media company rests on proficiency as opposed to authority.

All the structures described in this paper, except for adhocracy, are characteristic of traditional organizations. Adhocracy is the ideal structure for new industries, which must innovate and function with an “ad hoc” framework in their struggle for survival (Lam, 2010). Such organizations adopt adhocracy in efforts to avoid complexity, bureaucracy, and centralization, all of which potentially limit growth (Bolman & Deal, 2013). This structure is common in innovative, project-based industries such as pharmaceuticals and filmmaking. In these industries, experts from diverse areas must be brought in to form an innovative, functional team. For creativity and innovation to be nurtured, decisions must be decentralized and power must always be delegated to those who need it. The main downside of this arrangement is that top executives may find it extremely difficult to control the organization.

Mintzberg (1989), points out that the adhocracy is advantageous because it enables organizations to maintain a talent pool from which experts can be drawn to solve problems whenever they arise. Once one project is completed, the experts can flexibly move on to a new project. This means that adhocracies are good at responding quickly to change and meeting emerging challenges. Nevertheless, these structures must also contend with the numerous avenues of conflict that come with delegation of power and authority. Employees may also find it extremely stressful to deal with rapid change, leading to high turnover (Lam, 2000; Vaccaro et al., 2012). In today’s digital era, this structure is quickly emerging as a favourite choice for young organizations that seek to operate in a flexible environment.

Ways in Which Mintzberg’s Ideas Constitute an Advance over Earlier Theories of Organizational Structure

Before Mintzberg came up with the theory of five types of organization structure, management theories had already proposed other theories. One of them is Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory. Scientific management provided a firm foundation for the onset of the modern era for management in general and organizational structure in particular. Taylor (2004) proposed that companies should use scientific methods to determine the best way of doing a job. He also recommended clear division of labour as well as specific tasks and responsibilities. Other principles of Taylorism, as the theory is popularly known, included scientific selection, surveillance, and precise training (Taylor, 2004).

Henry Ford also made important contributions to scientific management. To begin with, he was a staunch supporter of the implementation of Taylor’s principles. Additionally, he conceived ideas relating to deskilling, efficient mass production, the assembly line, top vertical integration, and increased production speed. Ford held the view that the assembly line should operate based on the principles of planned and continuous progression of commodities through the production line. In Fordism, managers were required to deliver work instead of waiting for the worker to find it through his own initiative (Beynon & Nichols, 2006). Moreover, operations needed to be analysed into all their constituent parts.

In Taylor’s view, factory management was responsible for determining the best way in which a worker could do a specific task and job, providing the right tools and training, and offering incentives for better performance (Taylor, 2004). To achieve these objectives, Taylor sought to break down every job into its constituent time and motion requirements, analysed all these motions to identify the ones that were essential, and timed workers using a stopwatch. The result was that superfluous motion was eliminated, and the worker performed his task based on a machine-like routine. Consequently, productivity increased considerably. Taylor also recommended the practice of delegating some of the tasks to specialists, for example, sharpening of tools. Taylor’s work resulted in the elevation of two managerial functions to a primary level within the process of production; the two functions are planning and coordination.

The influence of scientific management on Mintzberg’s ideas is best demonstrated in the idea of machine bureaucracy. Mintzberg seems to borrow the ideas of Frederick Taylor when he defines the machine bureaucracy in terms of the standardization of highly formalized procedures and routines. Taylor was a stanch proponent of the idea of establishing standard procedures for performing specific tasks with a view to achieve optimal productivity levels. Taylor also alluded on the importance of delegating some of the tasks to specialists. Mintzberg expounds on this idea by explaining a type of organization structure he calls professional bureaucracy. In this regard, Mintzberg’s explanation constitutes an important advance over earlier theories of organizational structure.

In his scientific management theory, Frederick Taylor did not envision a situation where employees would be given too much freedom to make decisions for the organization. Yet this is precisely what Mintzberg alludes to in the adhocracy. Taylor’s ideas fitted in well with the context in which they were being expressed, which in this case was the height of the industrial revolution in the Western world. At this time, numerous factories were being established in efforts to facilitate mass production of consumer and industrial goods through the assembly. The world has since changed, and this is evident in the rise of the information age. Mintzberg (1980) elaborates on the adhocracy in a manner that facilities a better understanding of the need for organizations to go with the changing circumstances by adopting new organizational structures.

At the height of industrial revolution, it was unheard of to talk about adhocracy since it did not fit in well with the circumstances under which workers performed tasks. In today’s information age, the idea of adhocracy is appropriate because it provides a framework through which young entrepreneurs can start companies in a dynamic way that facilitates creativity and innovation. The online space within the World Wide Web is full of opportunities that may not be exploited optimally through the traditional organizational conception that places premium on bureaucracy and centralization. Konieczny (2010), explains the importance of this organizational structure by highlighting the case of Wikipedia, an online company that uses adhocracy to offer open content online. Thus, Mintzberg’s idea of adhocracy constitutes a crucial advance over earlier theories of organizational structure.

The question of Mintzberg’s contribution to existing ideas on organizational structure may be answered by comparing it to the contingency theory. The contingency theory, which emerged during the 1950s, deviated from scientific management by through the view that there was no such thing as “one best way” (Donaldson, 2001; West, M, Tjosvold & Smith, 2003). It is based on the view that effectiveness in an organization is contingent on several factors, including technology, size, degree of change or uncertainty, diversification, and internationalization (Donaldson, 2001; Morton & Hu, 2008).

Contingency theories have dominated studies on organization behavior, performance, and management strategy for a long time (Morton & Hu, 2008). The most common proposition is that every organizational outcome is contingent on a fit between several factors. A major problem in the contingency theory is that the concept of fit has not been clearly explained. Mintzberg’s ideas on the five types of organizational structures have greatly contributed to the disambiguation of this concept. This has been made possible through Mintzberg’s (1980) reference to standard terms such as operating core, middle line, strategic apex, support staff, and technostructure in explaining how organizations choose the structures under which are currently operating.

Conversely, Mintzberg’s categorization of organizational structures was greatly influenced by factors that may be said to have an impact on organizational effectiveness as per the contingency theory, such as size, degree of change, technology, and diversification. For instance, adhocracy is typical of small organizations while the machine bureaucracy is typical of large, stable organizations. In contrast, the adhocracy is normally employed by small, young companies seeking to grow in a dynamic environment by harnessing the power of technology, creativity, and innovation. This explanation demonstrates that Mintzberg’s constitute a bid to advance on the contingency theory. 

Conclusion

This paper has examined five types of organization structure as outlined by Mintzberg (1980). The paper sought to determine the ways in which these ideas constitute an advance over earlier theories of organizational structure. In many ways, Mintzberg’s ideas build on earlier theories, particularly, scientific management theory and contingency theory. For example, the concept of the machine organization is closely related to Frederick Taylor’s proposals on standardizing and routinizing tasks in a factory in order to optimize productivity. The only exception is the idea of adhocracy, which had not been alluded by in previous theories prior to its development by Mintzberg.

References

Asch, S. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 70(9), 1-70.

Beynon, H. & Nichols, T. (2006). The Fordism of Ford and modern management: Fordism and post-Fordism. Edward Elgar Publishing, Washington, DC.

Bolman, L. & Deal, T. (2013). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership, 5th Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Borgatti, S. & Foster, P. (2003). The Network Paradigm in Organizational Research: A Review and Typology. Journal of Management, 29(6), 991–1013.

Brivot, M. (2011). Controls of Knowledge Production, Sharing and Use in Bureaucratized Professional Service Firms. Organization Studies, 32(4), 489-508.

Daft, R. (2010). Organization theory and design, Mason: Cengage Learning.

Donaldson, L. (2001). The contingency theory of organizations, New York: Sage Publications.

Forrester, R. & Drexler, A. (1999). A model for team-based organization performance. Academy of Management Perspectives, 13(3), 36-49.

French, J. & Raven, B. (1959). The bases of social power, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Iedema, R., Rhodes, C. & Sheeres, H. (2006). Surveillance, resistance, observation: Exploring the teleo-affective volatility of workplace interaction. Organization Studies, 27(8), 1111-1130.

Konieczny, P. (2010). Adhocratic Governance in the Internet Age: A Case of Wikipedia. Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7(4), 263-283.

Lam, A. (2000). Tacit Knowledge, Organizational Learning and Societal Institutions: An Integrated Framework, Organization Studies, 21(3), 487-513.

Lam, A. (2010). Innovative Organizations: Structure, Learning and Adaptation. Innovation Perspectives for the 21st Century, BBVA, Madrid, pp. 163-175.

Lunenburg, F. (2012). Power and Leadership: An Influence Process. International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration, 15(1), 12-34.

Menguc, B., Auh, S. & Shih, E. (2007). Transformational leadership and market orientation: Implications for the implementation of competitive strategies and business unit performance. Journal of Business Research, 60(4), 314–321.

Mintzberg, H. (1980). Structure in 5’s: A synthesis of the research on organization design. Management Science, 26(3), 322-341.

Mintzberg, H. (1989). Mintzberg on management: Inside our strange world of organizations. New York: The Free Press.

Morton, N. & Hu, Q. (2008). Implications of the fit between organizational structure and ERP: A structural contingency theory perspective. International Journal of Information Management, 28(5), 391–402.

Pourezzat, A. & Attar, G. (2009). Professional Adhocracy, an Appropriate Design for Knowledge Economy in the Light of Mintzberg’s Perspective. Journal of Electronic Commerce in Organizations, 7(4), 12-32.

Robbins, S. & Judge, T. (2012). Organizational Behaviour, 15th Edition. New York: Prentice-Hall.

Taylor, F. (2004). Scientific management, New York: Harpers & Brothers Publishers.

Vaccaro, I., Jansen, J., Van Den Bosch, F. & Volberda, H. (2012). Management Innovation and Leadership: The Moderating Role of Organizational Size. Journal of Management Studies, 49(1), 28–51.

Van Maanen, J. & Schein, E. (1977). Toward a theory of organizational socialization. Annual Review of Research in Organizational Behavior, 1, 84-89.

West, M., Tjosvold, D. & Smith, K. (2003). “A contingency theory of task conflict and performance in groups and organizational teams”, in Castern K. De Dreu and Laurie R. Weingart. International Handbook of Organizational Teamwork and Cooperative Working. pp. 151-166, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.

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Introduction

Henry Mintzberg is a renowned scholar who has theorized widely in the areas of business and management. Mintzberg came up with a theory that places organizational structures into five categories. This categorization provides insights into how organizations come up with different operational structures in order to increase productivity. For instance, the simple structure is ideal for managers who want to embrace the environment of flexibility that is a crucial requirement for entrepreneurial thinking while the machine bureaucracy is suited to organizations that seek to promote the traditional approach to management. The aim of this paper is to describe Mintzberg’s five types of organization structure with a view to explore the ways in which these ideas constitute an advance over earlier theories of organizational structure.

Overview of Mintzberg’s Five Types of Organization Structure

The five categories of organization structure that Mintzberg (1980) developed include simple structure (entrepreneurial organization), machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, divisionalized (diversified) form, and adhocracy (innovative organization). The simple structure is characterized by a large unit where operations are overseen by a few top executives and standardized systems are lacking, thereby creating room for flexibility. Typical examples of simple structures include new government departments, medium-sized retail stores, and relatively small corporations.

In contrast, the machine bureaucracy is characterized by standardization, whereby work is highly formalized through procedures and routines within a centralized structure. Starbucks may be considered a classic example of machine bureaucracy because it has achieved success through meticulously standardized structures that produce cheap and highly efficient products.

On the other hand, the professional bureaucracy is like a machine bureaucracy only that it depends on trained professionals who insist on taking control of their own work, leading to the decentralization of decision-making. The divisionalized form occurs in organizations with many different business units and product lines. The last type of organization structure is the adhocracy, which Mintzberg (1980) associates with new industries that must innovate in an “ad hoc” basis in order to survive. Such industries endeavour to avoid complexity, bureaucracy, and centralization.

Comparison between Mintzberg’s Theory and Earlier Theories of Organizational Structure

            Mintzberg’s theory is similar to earlier theories of organizational structure in several ways. To begin with, it resembles Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory in the way is defines the machine bureaucracy (Taylor, 2004). Frederick Taylor proposed a theory in which working would be replaced by ‘rule of thumb’, and scientific methods would be relied on to determine how specific tasks can be performed in the most efficient way. In other words, Taylor treated humans as cogs in the assembly line. Mintzberg’s notion of machine bureaucracy seems to build on Taylor’s theory in terms of how to enhance performance among workers.

            Moreover, the role of managers in planning work and designing training has been recognized in earlier theories. Mintzberg builds on the information provided in these theories to describe how various organizations operate. Like many earlier theories, Mintzberg uses organizational typologies to describe differences in the way organizations are structured (Borgatti & Foster, 2003). A good example of earlier theorists who used typology in organizational theory is French & Raven (1959); these researchers identified five types of power: power-reward, coercive, referent, legitimate, and expert.

The idea of work standards as outlined in the machine bureaucracy has also been expressed in earlier theories. For example, Van Maanen & Schein (1977) examined the concept of organizational socialization. The idea of machine bureaucracy, like that of organizational socialization, offers insights on how workers become embedded into existing organizational structures through work.

Using these work standards, managers can control all the activities and strategies of the organization. According to Robbins & Judge (2012), the level of job specialization and formalization is very high whereas units are strictly functional and in most cases very large in this organizational structure. Moreover, the level of vertical centralization of power is high whereas horizontal decentralization is limited. This model is mostly common in stable environments where the element of simplicity is highly valued. This description fits well into large, old organizations, some of which are externally controlled. It is also common in mass production systems involving technical operations.

Existing theoretical conceptions on professionalism also seem to have influenced Mintzberg’s views on the professional bureaucracy. For example, Asch (1956) discusses the issues of independence and conformity, which are at the centre of Mintzberg’s professional bureaucracy. In Mintzberg’s typology, professionals expect to have a certain degree of independence from their superiors through minimum formalization of tasks and routines, and this is a crucial factor that differentiates the professional bureaucracy from the machine bureaucracy.

The idea of professional bureaucracy also brings into focus the theoretical debate on group and team development. Large organizations always rely on teams and groups for effectiveness in task performance (Forrester & Drexler, 1999). According to Forrester & Drexler (1999), team-based performance is about getting all the right pieces and putting them together by establishing connections between them. In organizational theory, a lot of focus has been on the various accountability processes that make team-based performance achievable. Mintzberg’s idea of professional bureaucracy alludes to the importance of these accountability processes through insights into employees’ level of ownership of organization’s work as well as their involvement in decision-making. Elements of power and control also contribute greatly to the way Mintzberg creates the image of a professional bureaucracy.

The main attributes of professional bureaucracy include the standardization of all skills, job specialization, extensive training, extensive decentralization both vertically and horizontally, and minimal formalization. Grouping is done on market and functional basis while operating units tends to be large-sized. Evidently, this type of structure is ideal for large, complex organizations operating in stable environments where technical systems are simple, straightforward, and non-regulating (Brivot, 2011). However, a major disadvantage with this type of structure is that the amount of control that senior managers can exercise over employees is limited because of the spread of power and authority along the hierarchy (Brivot, 2011). Professional bureaucracies are common in legal firms, universities, and hospitals, where authority is decentralized to employees because of the professional expertise that they possess.

According to Iedema, Rhodes & Sheeres (2006), serious problems relating to the exercise of power by senior executives may arise due to the volatility of everyday interactions particularly in environments characterized by participative-communicative forms of work. In such situations, it can be hard to bring about change within the organization. In the meantime, this issue may easily pave way for a debate on how senior executives operating in professional bureaucracies can employ different types of power (legitimate, expert, referent, reward, and coercive) to win the hearts and minds of their followers (Lunenburg, 2012).

In the divisionalized form, one may look at the issue of delegation and the way it has been addressed in earlier theories. The importance of coordinating market-based units through standardization of all outputs as well as performance control systems was being emphasized even before came up with his typology of organizational structure (Menguc, Auh & Shih, 2007). The objective was to define a theoretical basis for the tendency by companies to set up their headquarters in a central location while continuing to offer support to various divisions operating in different geographical locations. An example of a divisionalized form is General Motors, which in the 1920s established self-contained units, with each one operating in a fairly autonomous manner and the divisional head taking overall responsibility for performance.

The divisional structure is advantageous in the sense that line managers are able to maintain greater control than in the machine structure (Daft, 2010). Moreover, since day-to-day decision-making is decentralized, the central team acquires some requisite space to enable them to focus on broader strategic plans. However, the structure tends to be weak in the sense that resources and activities may be duplicated across divisions, leading to wastage. Moreover, divisions may be in conflict as they compete to get allocation for limited resources available at the headquarters. Organizations operating under this structure can at times be inflexible, meaning that the structure is most suited to stable organizations that are seeking to avoid functional complexity.

In contrast, to the divisionalized form, the idea of adhocracy is not supported in earlier theories. Earlier theories propose the idea of a high degree of formalization while adhocracy is based on the idea of a small degree of formalization (Pourezzat, & Attar, 2009). An adhocracy fits well in companies with small units characterized by a combination of market and functional bases within matrix structures, there is extensive use of liaison devices, and decentralization is inherent on both vertical and horizontal dimensions (Mintzberg, 1980). No researcher before Mintzberg provided this kind of perspective in efforts to develop a typology of organizational structure. A good example of an adhocracy is Facebook. At Facebook, power and control keeps shifting in a dynamic manner to reflect changes in the kind of innovative project being implemented. Power base in this social-media company rests on proficiency as opposed to authority.

All the structures described in this paper, except for adhocracy, are characteristic of traditional organizations. Adhocracy is the ideal structure for new industries, which must innovate and function with an “ad hoc” framework in their struggle for survival (Lam, 2010). Such organizations adopt adhocracy in efforts to avoid complexity, bureaucracy, and centralization, all of which potentially limit growth (Bolman & Deal, 2013). This structure is common in innovative, project-based industries such as pharmaceuticals and filmmaking. In these industries, experts from diverse areas must be brought in to form an innovative, functional team. For creativity and innovation to be nurtured, decisions must be decentralized and power must always be delegated to those who need it. The main downside of this arrangement is that top executives may find it extremely difficult to control the organization.

Mintzberg (1989), points out that the adhocracy is advantageous because it enables organizations to maintain a talent pool from which experts can be drawn to solve problems whenever they arise. Once one project is completed, the experts can flexibly move on to a new project. This means that adhocracies are good at responding quickly to change and meeting emerging challenges. Nevertheless, these structures must also contend with the numerous avenues of conflict that come with delegation of power and authority. Employees may also find it extremely stressful to deal with rapid change, leading to high turnover (Lam, 2000; Vaccaro et al., 2012). In today’s digital era, this structure is quickly emerging as a favourite choice for young organizations that seek to operate in a flexible environment.

Ways in Which Mintzberg’s Ideas Constitute an Advance over Earlier Theories of Organizational Structure

Before Mintzberg came up with the theory of five types of organization structure, management theories had already proposed other theories. One of them is Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory. Scientific management provided a firm foundation for the onset of the modern era for management in general and organizational structure in particular. Taylor (2004) proposed that companies should use scientific methods to determine the best way of doing a job. He also recommended clear division of labour as well as specific tasks and responsibilities. Other principles of Taylorism, as the theory is popularly known, included scientific selection, surveillance, and precise training (Taylor, 2004).

Henry Ford also made important contributions to scientific management. To begin with, he was a staunch supporter of the implementation of Taylor’s principles. Additionally, he conceived ideas relating to deskilling, efficient mass production, the assembly line, top vertical integration, and increased production speed. Ford held the view that the assembly line should operate based on the principles of planned and continuous progression of commodities through the production line. In Fordism, managers were required to deliver work instead of waiting for the worker to find it through his own initiative (Beynon & Nichols, 2006). Moreover, operations needed to be analysed into all their constituent parts.

In Taylor’s view, factory management was responsible for determining the best way in which a worker could do a specific task and job, providing the right tools and training, and offering incentives for better performance (Taylor, 2004). To achieve these objectives, Taylor sought to break down every job into its constituent time and motion requirements, analysed all these motions to identify the ones that were essential, and timed workers using a stopwatch. The result was that superfluous motion was eliminated, and the worker performed his task based on a machine-like routine. Consequently, productivity increased considerably. Taylor also recommended the practice of delegating some of the tasks to specialists, for example, sharpening of tools. Taylor’s work resulted in the elevation of two managerial functions to a primary level within the process of production; the two functions are planning and coordination.

The influence of scientific management on Mintzberg’s ideas is best demonstrated in the idea of machine bureaucracy. Mintzberg seems to borrow the ideas of Frederick Taylor when he defines the machine bureaucracy in terms of the standardization of highly formalized procedures and routines. Taylor was a stanch proponent of the idea of establishing standard procedures for performing specific tasks with a view to achieve optimal productivity levels. Taylor also alluded on the importance of delegating some of the tasks to specialists. Mintzberg expounds on this idea by explaining a type of organization structure he calls professional bureaucracy. In this regard, Mintzberg’s explanation constitutes an important advance over earlier theories of organizational structure.

In his scientific management theory, Frederick Taylor did not envision a situation where employees would be given too much freedom to make decisions for the organization. Yet this is precisely what Mintzberg alludes to in the adhocracy. Taylor’s ideas fitted in well with the context in which they were being expressed, which in this case was the height of the industrial revolution in the Western world. At this time, numerous factories were being established in efforts to facilitate mass production of consumer and industrial goods through the assembly. The world has since changed, and this is evident in the rise of the information age. Mintzberg (1980) elaborates on the adhocracy in a manner that facilities a better understanding of the need for organizations to go with the changing circumstances by adopting new organizational structures.

At the height of industrial revolution, it was unheard of to talk about adhocracy since it did not fit in well with the circumstances under which workers performed tasks. In today’s information age, the idea of adhocracy is appropriate because it provides a framework through which young entrepreneurs can start companies in a dynamic way that facilitates creativity and innovation. The online space within the World Wide Web is full of opportunities that may not be exploited optimally through the traditional organizational conception that places premium on bureaucracy and centralization. Konieczny (2010), explains the importance of this organizational structure by highlighting the case of Wikipedia, an online company that uses adhocracy to offer open content online. Thus, Mintzberg’s idea of adhocracy constitutes a crucial advance over earlier theories of organizational structure.

The question of Mintzberg’s contribution to existing ideas on organizational structure may be answered by comparing it to the contingency theory. The contingency theory, which emerged during the 1950s, deviated from scientific management by through the view that there was no such thing as “one best way” (Donaldson, 2001; West, M, Tjosvold & Smith, 2003). It is based on the view that effectiveness in an organization is contingent on several factors, including technology, size, degree of change or uncertainty, diversification, and internationalization (Donaldson, 2001; Morton & Hu, 2008).

Contingency theories have dominated studies on organization behavior, performance, and management strategy for a long time (Morton & Hu, 2008). The most common proposition is that every organizational outcome is contingent on a fit between several factors. A major problem in the contingency theory is that the concept of fit has not been clearly explained. Mintzberg’s ideas on the five types of organizational structures have greatly contributed to the disambiguation of this concept. This has been made possible through Mintzberg’s (1980) reference to standard terms such as operating core, middle line, strategic apex, support staff, and technostructure in explaining how organizations choose the structures under which are currently operating.

Conversely, Mintzberg’s categorization of organizational structures was greatly influenced by factors that may be said to have an impact on organizational effectiveness as per the contingency theory, such as size, degree of change, technology, and diversification. For instance, adhocracy is typical of small organizations while the machine bureaucracy is typical of large, stable organizations. In contrast, the adhocracy is normally employed by small, young companies seeking to grow in a dynamic environment by harnessing the power of technology, creativity, and innovation. This explanation demonstrates that Mintzberg’s constitute a bid to advance on the contingency theory. 

Conclusion

This paper has examined five types of organization structure as outlined by Mintzberg (1980). The paper sought to determine the ways in which these ideas constitute an advance over earlier theories of organizational structure. In many ways, Mintzberg’s ideas build on earlier theories, particularly, scientific management theory and contingency theory. For example, the concept of the machine organization is closely related to Frederick Taylor’s proposals on standardizing and routinizing tasks in a factory in order to optimize productivity. The only exception is the idea of adhocracy, which had not been alluded by in previous theories prior to its development by Mintzberg.

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