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Knowledge Objectives. Describe the four characteristics common to all organizations. Explain dynamic equilibrium and equifinality in open-systems models. Explain the ways in which organizations learn and decline (fail to learn). What is an Organization?.

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Knowledge objectives
Knowledge Objectives

  • Describe the four characteristics common to all organizations.

  • Explain dynamic equilibrium and equifinality in open-systems models.

  • Explain the ways in which organizations learn and decline (fail to learn)

What is an organization
What is an Organization?

  • Common Characteristics of Organizations

    • Coordination of effort: multiplying individual contributions to achieve results greater than those possible by individuals working alone.

    • Common goal or purpose: having a focus to strive for something of mutual interest.

    • Division of labor: dividing tasks into specialized jobs that use human resources efficiently.

    • Hierarchy of authority: using a chain of command to control and direct the actions of others.


  • Max Weber’s Bureaucracy

    • The most rationally efficient form of organization

      • Division of labor

      • Hierarchy of authority

      • Framework of rules

      • Impersonal management

    • Problems with overly “bureaucratic” organizations

      • Slow

      • Insensitive

      • Inefficient


  • Open systems perspective

    • The organization’s principal goal is survival in an uncertain environment.

    • The organization is an open-system interacting with its environment.

    • The organization’s surrounding environment is composed of variables that are difficult to predict or control.


  • Characteristics of Open Systems

    • Interaction with the external environment through permeable boundaries.

    • Dynamic equilibrium in maintaining internal balances with help from the external environment.

    • Equifinality in achieving similar ends through different means.

    • Management of the Technical Core & Boundary Spanning units

Extending the systems model learning organizations
Extending the Systems Model: Learning Organizations

  • Learning Organization

    • An organization that is skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.

  • Stages of Organization Learning

    • Cognition (learning new concepts)

    • Behavior (developing new skills and abilities)

    • Performance (actually getting something done)

Learning organizations
Learning Organizations

  • Five Critical Learning Skills

    • Solving problems.

    • Experimenting.

    • Learning from organizational experience/history.

    • Learning from others.

    • Transferring and implementing.


  • Organizational Decline

    • The weakening of an organization by resource restrictions and/or mismanagement.

    • Sources of decline

      • Complacency/Simplification

      • Unsteady macroeconomic environment

      • Resource shortages

      • Global competition

    • Reactions to decline

      • Downsizing, demassing, reengineering


  • Characteristics of Organizational Decline

    • Decline Dilemmas

      • Exit of leaders from the organization.

      • Control that suppresses participation and morale.

      • Preference for short-term thinking and risk avoidance.

      • Intense conflict, preventing teamwork.

      • Strong resistance to change.

    • Counteracting Organizational Decline

      • Kaizen: the philosophy of continuous improvement.