This report tries to find out how the evolution of formal organizations evolved over the past century, differences that existed in organizations a century ago compared to today, transformation of the characteristics of formal characteristics to flexible and open organizations, and trends in future organizations as forecasted in future.
A Review of the Literature
Over the last decade, researchers have indicated that organizations have gradually been changing on the way they perform their tasks. In the past, rigid organizations tended to operate in the way without variations. This review of the literature on the evolution of formal organization tries to find out how they evolved over the past century, differences that existed in organizations a century ago compared to today, the transformation of the characteristics of formal organizations to open and flexible, and finally the trends in future organizations as seen in the future.
In his book, Macionis (2000) argued that the challenge to conventional bureaucracy is to become more open and flexible in order to take more advantage everyone’s ideas, experience and creativity. In the past decade, majority of organizations functioned under conventional bureaucracy. The structure of this organization has many levels from higher ranked employees with more authority down to hardworking workers, with no authority. The problem with this conventional bureaucracy stemmed from two organizational traits of hierarchy and rigidity. This led to the adoption of scientific management.
According Macionis (2000), F. W. Taylor in his application of scientific management principles to organizational tasks discovered that they assisted in reducing inefficiencies. He invented these principles as an answer to effective accomplishment of tasks by employees. Taylor emphasized on tasks being analyzed, applying methods more efficiently to manage tasks, and offering workers with incentives for higher productivity. This scientific management theory allowed only managers or supervisors to make decisions. As times past, formal organizations continued to face several challenges such as increasing competition, discrimination along race and gender, and overall change in the nature of work. These challenges led to the open, flexible organization.
Race and Gender
Women and minorities used to be discriminated against in employee recruitment practices. This led to less competence and less efficiency. It is a fact that women and form a greater percentage of the total population; therefore their exclusion reduced their contribution to organizations. Research has shown that women understand issues easily more than men. They also communicate well and share information unlike men. In leadership, women tend to be more flexible because they welcome contributions from workers and focus on interrelationships in organizations. Open, flexible organizations open opportunities to all and values contributions of workers. Consequently, women make organizations more open and flexible.
Japanese Work Organization
According to (Macions, 2000), William Ouchi discovered that collectivity was more emphasized in Japanese organizations more than individualism found in North America. Organizations in Japan recruited in groups thus providing workers equal responsibilities. Japanese organization play a much larger role in workers lives. For instance, they give their workers the home mortgages, recreational facilities, and social events. They involved their workers in making corporate decisions through ‘quality circles’ and assisted them in organizing their social lives. These factors made employees to be loyal and produce products of high quality.
Changing Nature of Work
The way tasks are done today are different from the way they performed a century ago. Workers nowadays demand creativity and imagination. Routine work of the industrial world has shifted to the post industrial world where information is processed. Large organizations today need employees who are given the opportunity to be creative in competitive work teams. Organizations tend to be flatter rather than pyramidal and there is less rigidity and more flexibility.
In the past century, organizations had pyramid shaped structures. This essentially meant that; decision making was mainly vested on top part of the pyramid. This part comprised of senior most executives who had the final judgment almost all matters pertaining the organization However in today’s organizations, this is not the case because flatter shapes are prefer meaning, decisions were made throughout the organizations.
Second, a century ago, organizations used to have a long and clear chain of command where everyone knew exactly who to report to and to take orders from. This ensured that, no one along the chain was usurped and contradicting instructions were avoided. Organizations today prefer to have a short and efficient chain of command with less emphasis placed on it. This makes organizations to cut on costs and save time associated with long chains of command. Third, the emphasis on the hierarchy by organizations a century ago, made senior managers execute orders to junior employees while junior employees were expected to furnish them with reports.
Since this endeavor was time consuming and costly organizations today prefer all employees to be responsible to come up with ideas beneficial to the overall good of the organization and are all actively involved in decision making in matters that concern them. Fourth, the formal organizations enforced many rules and regulations that governed their employees, they were to follow the rules to the later, and this made employees to be rigid as they could not act beyond the bounds of this rules and regulations.
This aspect is contrasted in flexible organizations where teamwork is encouraged and employees are given a chance to brainstorm and come up with acceptable but not rigid norms governing them at their work places for instance, pertaining working hours and dress code. Last but not least, high specialization of jobs also characterized formal organizations, here; employees were placed on their jobs mainly based on their technical competence.
An employee was allowed to work on specific tasks over and over again. This in itself hampered creativity and innovation and made jobs boring furthermore, employees did not understand how their individual tasks contributed to the overall achievement of the organizations goal. This is not the case with today’s organizations as employees perform several challenging jobs hence acquiring a broad knowledge base about the entire organization.
Conventional organizations have several characteristics that were enforced to govern employees to accomplish their tasks. To transform these formal organizations some of their distinctive characteristics need to change among them; Formal organizations should do away with the individual work approach but instead embrace teamwork as this motivates employees and improves decision making. Micah’s organization should also eradicate routine and rather design activities for all members.
Another essential aspect that needs to be changed is the emphasis placed on the hierarchy, this needs to be done away with completely or applied informally so as to reduce administrative costs and time taken to give orders and receive reports for implementation. The rules and regulations that mechanize employees are to be discarded instead general norms should be adopted to enhance flexibility. Lastly the type of communication applied in Micah’s organization that is, formal and written is outdated and needs to be changed to casual and face to face.This form of communication is effective as it provides immediate feedback.
In future, organizational strategies will depend mostly on market forces which in turn will dictate the type of organizational structure of the organization. In an attempt to overcome the disadvantages of conventional bureaucratic organizations, future organizations will tend to emphasize on strong interpersonal collaborations. Management practices will be through teams and skilful interpersonal relationships as opposed to management though formal systems and procedures (Reina et. al., 1999).
Self discipline and social control will replace formal control. Future organizations will adopt more flexible and human related activities in managing tasks and people. Future organizations will utilize educational programs to train managers in behavioral skills in managing teams and resolving organizational conflicts. Decision making in future organizations will be enhanced because they will utilize advanced integrated information systems (Kodama, 2000).
Economic rewards in future organizations will be directed more to team performances as opposed to individual performance. All these trends are definitely likely to happen because organizations will continue transforming with times. Therefore managements must be prepared to gradually dismantle organizational structures that do not comply with the changing environment.
Based on my research result, future evolution of organizations, such as Micah’s, will depend on factors such as; market forces which will dictate the type of organizational structure to be adopted, emphasize on strong interpersonal collaborations, advanced integrated information systems will enhance decision making process, educational programs to enhance behavioral skills of managers to effectively manage teams and last but not least, future organizations will adopt self discipline and social control as opposed to formal control.
Macionis J. John (2000). Sociology; Global Introduction New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Kodama M (2007). Project Based Organization IN knowledge Based Society; Imperial College Press.
Reina S. & Reina L.(1999). Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace Building effective relationships in your organization: San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.