Classics of Organization Theory essay

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Organization theory is a collection of knowledge derived from the distinct school of thoughts. It is a technical aspect of how organizations are managed. Exploration findings on these theories aid in building problem-solving framework.

Summary of Shafritz and Ott Readings

The summary of organization theory can be better laid down by dividing it into three parts, namely; the traditional organization theory, neo-classical theory, system/contingency, and the political systems theory.

Classical Organization Theory

This theory revolves around bureaucracy and power management. Bureaucratically organization control is exercising power, on the basis of knowledge and possessed skills. (Max 1947) Power has been expressed within an organization by means of control. However, it should be noted that there exists a fundamental difference between the power and authority. Shafrtz and Otto define power as the relationship between two persons, where one can impose without the other having an option over the matter at hand.

This theory looks at the authority from charismatic, traditional to rational or legal authority perspective.

Neo-classical Theory of Organization

Neoclassical theorist came up with this theory to counteract the limitation of classical theory. Many of them claimed that the latter was too authoritarian for any good. Many found it to be an avenue for addressing inherent problems of the classical picture of an organization. Neo-classical addresses the demerits of rigidity and excess conformity to the rules and power say. It is pro-creativity personnel growth and motivated workforce. It is more concerned with the welfare of workers than firm financial incentives. (Jay and Otto 1998)

Neoclassical school of thoughts, as put to practice in the Western Electric Plant, where working environment was manipulated to check the effect it had on the workforce and the levels of their production. Research shows that a friendly working environment contributed positively to the level of output. (Uris 1986)

Contingency/System Organization Theory

The best way to organize it is dependent on the environmental nature of organization feature and locality. (Jay 1973) It is an expansion on system design. Contingency theorist believes that the principles are based on the hypothesis that the organization internal features are guided by the environment demands. All that the organization does is just adapting environmental changes and volatility affects to the organizational and internal affairs.

To cope with these environmental changes, organization makes provisions for the specialized department, sometimes referred to subunits that may be structured differently. The more the environmental confrontations, the more the differentiations they are in any organization.

Furthermore, higher differentiation calls for complex coordination of activities in the organizational setting, and hence, the more resources needed employment.

It is of the notable importance that the inherent inter-subunit conflicts result from these organization subdivisions. Conflicts arise from communication barriers and ambiguity surrounding the goals and job specialization. (Jay 1973)

Principles of Organization


By definition, hierarchy is a global employment of subordination relation on an organizational set up. It is one of the fundamental principles of organization. Some literal work refers to it as scalar chain of command. Hierarchy takes a pyramid shape whereby the flow of command flows from top to bottom. Scalar chain is concerned with classification of duties and tasks according to authority degree. If authoritative positions increase, the scalar chain tends to expand vertically. But an increase in functionality leads to horizontal widening. Henri Fayol defines as a right to get things done through giving orders and having them to be executed. Coordination rests in a job position or office, and not in a person. This organizational concept is bureaucratic in nature. It provides legitimacy in running of an organization. Hierarchical structure assumes authority to exist. In this case, authority comes from either formal or the position. These powers stream from institutionalization to the administrator. (Uris 1986) From the above analysis, two things emerge; power and authority. While power is the capacity to influence a second individual to execute a certain task, authority, on the other hand, is a right that has been institutionalized and vests in superior personnel.

Unity of Command

In its simplest meaning, unity of command is where the employees get orders from one individual at any time. With unity of command, an organization experiences no conflicts, and it gives a foundation for the fixation of duties and responsibilities.

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