TECHNOLOGY AND STRUCTURE. TECHNOLOGY THEORISTS. Joan Woodward Charles Perrow James Thompson. Joan Woodward. In the early 1960’s Woodward demonstrated that organization structures adapt to their technology. In categorizing companies into three groups she
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In the early 1960’s Woodward demonstrated that
organization structures adapt to their technology.
In categorizing companies into three groups she
identified that production run sizes were linked
increasing levels of complexity and technological
Unit Production: The production of items in single units
and small batches
Mass Production: The production of large-batch
Process Production: The production of continuous
-process products such as oil and
Since the work of Woodward, there have been significant
advances in production technology, which include the use
of robots, numerically-controlled machine tools, and many applications of the computer to remote control of equipment.
These advances have been called by a variety of names
including: advanced manufacturing technology, agile
manufacturing, smart factories, and flexible manufacturing systems.
3.Integrated Information Networks (ERP): A
computerized system links all aspects of the
firm – accounting, marketing, purchasing,
inventory control, etc. The most common
are called Enterprise Resource Planning
programs. Most known are by SAP, People-
Soft and Oracle. Use a common database, and
allow managers to integrate their decision
making more effectively.
Structure Mass Production CIM
Span of control Wide Narrow
Hierarchical levels Many Few
Tasks Routine, repetitive Adaptive, craftlike
Specialization High Low
Decision Making Centralized Decentralized
Overall Bureaucratic, mechanistic Self-regulating,
Focus is on departmental technology
and departmental structure
(usually outside the technical core)
Each department has a production
process with a distinct technology
Includes units such as HRM, R&D,
legal, engineering, QC, finance, etc.
Task Variety: number of exceptions in the work.
Frequency of unexpected and novel events that occur
in the conversion process.
Problem Analyzability: degree to which work activities
and problem solving activities are analyzable.
Analyzable problems can be solved with procedures
and standardized technical knowledge. Non-analyzable
problems must be dealt with by wisdom, experience
Interdependence mean the extent to which departments
depend on each other for resources or materials to
accomplish their tasks.
Low interdependence means the departments can do
their work independently of each other and have little
need for interaction, consultation or exchange of materials.
High interdependence means the departments must
constantly exchange resources.
Pooled interdependence is the lowest form of
interdependence among departments. In this form,
work does not flow between units. Each contributes
to the common good of the organization, but does
its work independently.
Examples: McDonald’s restaurants, branch banks,
independent sales units based upon
territory or product lines.
Pooled interdependence is associated with organizations
employing a Mediating Technology. A Mediating
Technology provides products or services that mediate
or link clients from the external environment and, in
doing so, allows each department to work independently.
Banks, brokerage houses, real estate offices all mediate
between buyers and sellers, but the offices work
independently within the organization.
To achieve coordination, mediating technologies rely on
both a measure of categorization and a degree of
standardization. Organizations with mediating technologies
are, in general, moderatelyflexible to changing product
demands and typically cope with uncertainty by increasing
the number of units served. Since mediating technology
combines the outputs of different units by using
predetermined categories and standard rules and procedures,
it is usually less costly than long-linked technology which
requires a certain amount of planning (scheduling) across
several tasks to ensure proper work flow.
Sequential interdependence exists when the outputs of one
department become the inputs of another in serial form.
This is a higher level of interdependence than pooled
relationships. The preceding unit must complete its tasks
correctly in order that the latter unit may successfully
complete its tasks. It creates a higher need for horizontal
Sequential interdependence is associated with Long-Linked
Long-linked technology is usually associated with large
organizations that utilize sequential task organization,
such as assembly lines to accomplish their tasks.
Examples include the manufacture of automobiles,
heavy appliances, mechanical assemblies, some food
preparation processes, etc.
Long-linked technologies require high levels of
coordination between tasks to be efficient.
In long-linked technology procedures to complete a unit
of work are highly uniform and must be performed in a
specified serial order.
Organizations based upon long-linked technology
generally achieve coordination through planning
(scheduling) and typically seek to offset significant
environmental uncertainty through vertical integration.
Reciprocal interdependence is the highest level of inter-
dependence. Reciprocal interdependence exits when the
output of one unit serves as the input for a second unit,
and the output of the second unit serves as the input for
the first unit.
Reciprocal interdependence occurs in organizations with
Intensive technologies provide a variety of products or
services in combination to the client. A new product
development company is an example, where design,
engineering, manufacturing and marketing all must
work combine all their resources to suit a customer’s
Intensive technology, because of its reciprocal inter-
dependencies, requires the highest level of management
requirements. Reciprocally interdependent units work
together intimately and must be closely coordinated;
thus, a horizontal structure is appropriate.
Intensive technology coordination requires high levels of
horizontal communication and adjustment. Managers
from multiple departments are often involved in face-to-
Intensive technologies secure coordination through mutual
adjustment. They generally increase their tolerance for
uncertainty by ensuring the availability of a variety of
specialized services and skills in order to be prepared for
any contingency. Intensive technologies are typically the
most expensive to coordinate.
1B. In the absence of reciprocal interdependence,
organizations subject to rationality norms seek to
place sequentially interdependent positions tangent
to one another, in a common group which is (a)
localized and (b) conditionally autonomous.
1C. In the absence of reciprocal and sequential
interdependence, organizations subject to norms of
rationality seek to group positions homogeneously
to facilitate coordination by standardization.
2. When reciprocal interdependence cannot be confined to
intra-group activities, organizations subject to rationality
norms seek to link the groups involved into a second-
order group, as localized and conditionally autonomous
3. After grouping units to minimize coordination by mutual
adjustment, organizations under rationality norms seek to
place sequentially interdependent groups tangent to one
another, in a cluster which is localized and conditionally
4. After grouping units to solve problems of reciprocal
and sequential interdependence, organizations under
norms of rationality seek to cluster groups into
homogeneous units to facilitate coordination by
4A. When higher-priority coordination requirements
prevent the clustering of similar positions or groups,
organizations seek to blanket homogeneous positions
under rules which cut across group boundaries, and
to blanket similar groups under rules which cross
4B. When organizations employ standardization, which
cuts across multiple groups, they also develop
liaison positions linking the several groups and the
4C. Organizations with sequential interdependence not
contained by departmentalization rely on committees
to accomplish the remaining coordination.
4D. Organizations with reciprocal interdependence not
contained by departmentalization rely on task-force
or project groups to accomplish the remaining
2.The next priority is given to sequentially interdependent
units or tasks. Once reciprocal relationships are taken
care of, or not present, sequentially interdependent units
or tasks should be grouped together under a common
superior, and as physically close to one another as
If a common superior, or physical proximity, is not
possible the interdependence should be coordinated
through committees or task-forces.
3.The final priority should be given to pooled inter-
dependencies. If the interdependence cannot be
handled by forming homogeneous groups under a
common superior or close physical proximity,
standardization across units should be implemented
with liaison individuals to handle required cross-
communication between the units.
Woodward Mass, Process Unit
Perrow Routine, Craft,
Thompson Long-linked, Intensive