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Technology and Organization Structure - Essay Example

This research paper examines the technology-structure dependence. Both subjective and objective data were used to explore the degree of relationship between the organizational technology and organizational structure. The analysis of various theories and the data given concludes that technology may be related to structure but not substantially. It Is also unwise a parlor to expect spans of control, existence of written rules, and appreciativeness all to bear the same relationship to a fourth variable because they are all part of organizational structure.

In present case, participative supervision was selected as the dependent variable of interest because of its potential effect on the satisfaction and self-fulfillment of employees and on organizational goal achievement. Lawrence B Mohr is the author of this article. He has worked as a public health advisor, Research and demonstration grant consultant for the US Public Health Service from 1957 to 1963. His main teaching areas include Organizational theory, design and behavior, statistics, public program evaluation and philosophy of social research. He has contributed in several books and monographs.

Some of his books include Explaining Organizational Behavior: The Limits and Possibilities of Theory and Research and The Causes of Human Behavior: Implications for Theory and Method in the Social Sciences. He has also written a lot of Journal articles and papers. Some of his works include Determinants of Innovation in Organizations and The Concept of Organizational Goal. The target audiences for his research work are the people in the realms of political science and administration. Assumptions The author’s analysis is based on 144 work groups from 13 local health departments, which were randomly selected from among all the agencies In U.

S. Serving a population greater than 4,00,000. The groups used In the analysis represent an effective response rate of 80 percent. The author generalized his study by taking all the groups from healthcare department. The assumption made by the author here Is that a healthcare department study can represent all the organizations as a whole. After randomly choosing the samples, the author Imposed a criterion on supervisor, and the number and position of superintendent. By imposing the limitations on the selected group instead of random selections, author limited the scope of his study.

The assumption used here is that only the segment satisfying the criteria represents the target community of study. Essentially the predictability dimension considered at the individual Job level and further conceptualized in terms of uniformity, complexity, and inalienability. Individual Job level used here is another assumption made by the author. The actual score for the technological level, or manageability, of the work group was evaluated by averaging three quantities. All of the Job titles of subordinates in this study were divided into eight levels of operations technology by the investigator.

Subordinates’ category scores were then averaged for each work group. Assumption that averages give a fair idea about measurement is made by the author here. The supervisor responded to a questionnaire item on each of the three subdivisions of manageability. Several assumptions were also made by the author in interpreting the interview responses of the target sections. Above stated assumptions are not explicitly stated in author’s research but can be easily inferred from author’s selection of the group and the way of studying their responses.

The assumption of generalizing a study of group from healthcare department is not impolitely valid because it only studies the behavior of a very specialized group which cannot be generalized for all the departments or organizations in general. The assumptions of setting the criteria for the selection of group, dividing the groups into 8 levels and considering their average scores hold valid for the author’s study. Alternative Wap The first and most influential study of manufacturing technology was conducted by Joan Woodward. Woodward surveyed 100 manufacturing firms firsthand to learn how they organized.

She developed a scale and organized the firms accordingly to chemical complexity of manufacturing process. The three basic technology groups are Small Batch and unit production, Large Batch and mass production and Continuous process production. According to Woodward the Small Batch Production relies heavily on the human operator; it is thus not highly mechanized. Large Batch Production is a manufacturing process characterized by long production runs of standardized parts and in Continuous-process Production, entire process is mechanized.

Woodward claimed that unit, mass, and process production result in different structural forms and that proper fit within categories increased the childhood that the organization would be successful. Charles Proper model specified two dimensions of departmental activities that were relevant to organization structure and processes. Proper argued that control and coordination methods should vary with technology type. The more routine the technology, the more structured the organization should be. Conversely, non-routine technologies require greater structural flexibility.

Proper then identified the key aspects of structure that could be modified to the technology: the amount of discretion that can be exercised for completing tasks, the power of groups to control he unit’s goals and basic strategies, the extent of interdependence between these groups, and the extent to which these groups engage in coordination of their work manufacturing firms that looked only at the two extreme cells- routine and non- routine technologies- found support for Borrows predictions.

Another, covering sixteen health and welfare agencies, confirmed that organizations do have diverse technologies and that the more routine the work, the more likely decision making will be centralized. James Thompson defined three types of interdependence that influence organizational structure. Long linked technology is accompanied by sequential interdependence the procedures are highly standardized and must be performed in a specific serial order.

Mediating technology has pooled interdependence-two or more units each contribute separately to a larger unit. Intensive technologies create reciprocal interdependence- the outputs of units influence each other in a reciprocal fashion. Each of these interdependencies, in turn, demands a certain type of coordination that will facilitate organizational effectiveness yet minimize costs. In general terms, we can translate Thompson insights into structural terminology.

He argued that the demands placed on decision making and communication as a result of technology increased from mediating (low) to long linked(medium) to intensive (high). Mediating technology is coordinated most effectively through rules and procedures. Long linked should be accompanied by planning and scheduling. Intensive technology requires mutual adjustment. Important Findings A) Correlation r = ?. 18 between manageability of the technology and the appreciativeness of the structure one feels that one or both of two intervening mechanisms may be operating Expectancy: 1 .

There is a norm of rationality Therefore, when technology allows, patterns of authority and communication will be made definite and orderly 2) Routine Jobs attract the individual to mechanistic structure, while non-routine Jobs attract an individual generally higher in social class, who as both superior and subordinate prefers a more democratic mode of organization for work. In sum, the data provided no support for the hypothesis that organizational rationality norms force mechanistic structures when technology is manageable and, conversely, cannot force this outcome when technology is highly non-manageable.

B) The results were in the expected direction, but the magnitude of the partial correlations is ambiguous; actually, only a partial correlation very close to zero would have provided satisfying support for the social-class hypothesis. C) Task interdependence, and noise level is R = . 45. This might plausibly be the approximate degree of relationship observed by Woodward. Hence it was suggested that observed relationships between technology and structure may be due more to task interdependence than to routines. D) There was practically no differences ineffectiveness between the consonant and dissonant subgroups. s high, regardless of whether appreciativeness was consonant with manageability, or dissonant. Structure alone, then, had more of an impact on effectiveness than did the degree of consonance between structure and technology. F) The positive effects of a participative style of supervision were even more pronounced among routine groups than non-routine. G) It is reasonable to question whether the consonance hypothesis would receive support if consonance were considered in terms of the fit between appreciativeness and interdependence.

An analysis of subgroups? fails to provide such support. H) The findings of the present study were thus inconsistent with the conclusions of Proper (1967), Woodward (1965), and Bums and Stalker (1961) regarding consonance and effectiveness, at least insofar as the authoritative-consultative dimension of structure is concerned. L) Support the assumption that formal organization depends more on technical considerations than is generally realized, and that any tendency to divorce it further ought to be resisted. On the contrary, it is perhaps this prescription that ought to be resisted, at least when considering the participatory structure of decision making. Before following it, one should demand. Before following it, one should demand either much stronger evidence of a universal relationship between consonance and effectiveness, or hard evidence that assembly-line mass production is a special case in which movement toward organic structure cannot produce increased effectiveness.

Conclusion and Future Scope Based on the research work of Lawrence B Mohr, the primary conclusion which can be inferred is that technology is related to structure albeit in an indirect manner. Firstly we need to understand the complete aspects of the structure. Then we can associate the related technologies. In the present case participative supervision was elected as the dependent variable of interest because of its potential effect on the satisfaction and self fulfillment of employees and on organizational goal achievement. N the other hand the other aspects of technology are at least moderately related to appreciativeness. The present scope of the research is very limited because there was few assumptions and limitations. Some of the aspects which can be improved and make further research and analysis desirable are a) the technologies which are considered are restricted in nature b) the use of the work group rather than the organization as the unit of analysis and c) the personalization of social structure as the appreciativeness of supervisory role.

If technology is to affect structure, however it is not because of the exact word but one or more component dimensions such as routines and task interdependence. It is still theoretically more productive to consider it a special case rather than to consider it as an important general relationship between technology and structure. It is reasonable to propose that if manageability does not determine structural relations groups. Moreover there is some correctional evidence that the various elements of organic structure tend to occur together.

It is not at all clear that a determinant of the consultative dimension affects other important social structural dimensions as well. How ever the scope of the research is very limited because the best evidence presently available (Wage and Keen) indicates that the relationships between technology and such social structural aspects like internal social stratification, autonomy over work decisions, concentration of authority, impersonal control of workflow, role specialization and formalization of procedures are very weak for the most part and moderate at best.

Further research is needed in which several emissions of organizational technology and social structure are considered simultaneously and in which the number of organizational units included is sufficient to provide reliable results. The main point of such research must be to continue with the new and challenging task of exploring organizational structure. Since technology does not seem to be the main focus, it is advisable to consider other factors as well.