Framing Organizations A quick synopsis
Organizational problems require flexibility in how they are diagnosed, and how they are addressed. As clinicians know, some symptoms are actually far removed from the underlying medical problem.
Bolman & Deal describe four frames, or lenses, that can be used to analyze different aspects of organizations: • Structural Formal roles and relationships. Division of labor and coordination of individual activities • Human Resource The fit between people and the organization. How the organization meets individual needs • Symbolic Culture, ritual, ceremony. The meaning of actions events, promoting a common vision. What does it mean to be in that organization? • Political The allocation of power and scarce resources. Bargaining, negotiating, coalition building.
The structure can be identified by observing the division of tasks among workers in an organization, and determining who is in charge.
Although details of the human resource frame are often not available to the public (e.g. salaries, benefits), case studies usually provide the information necessary to use this approach.
Symbolic and cultural issues may not be obvious. For instance, symbolic items are sometimes not spoken of, and even treated as sacred, in an organization. We will see later how situations that involve symbolic issues can be especially dangerous to the leader who is not aware of the status of seemingly small tokens, and treats them in a dismissive manner.
The "politics" of an organization are not accessible to the casual observer, and typically only become clear once a person has worked there for a while.
Using the Frames • Image of the organization • Emphasis • Underlying assumptions • Path to organizational effectiveness • Potential issues • Central tensions • Possible intervention options