Organizational Design – the Difference Between Mechanical and Organic Organization?

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Organizational designers use both mechanistic and organic organizations to create a structure for their business. The question at hand is, does either structure work? What are the differences between these two structures? How do they impact the organization? 

Let’s have a closer look.

Organizational structure, according to traditional models of organization, consists of four elements: 

Centralized and decentralized decision-making, with diffuse or distributed decision-making authority, a mixed staff of specialized and general employees, and a top-down management.

Based on this structure, the organizational style is usually described as either mechanistic or organic. Mechanistic structure is based on predetermined action loops like scheduling, ordering, executing, and feedback. Organic organization is based on diffuse decision-making, open feedback, and a high degree of personal autonomy.

There are many similarities between these two types of structures. 

For instance, both centralized decision-making and decentralized decision-making are characterized by a certain level of communication and involve multiple decision-making layers. Also, both organic and mechanistic organizations place great emphasis on planning, analysis, and implementation of activities. Additionally, both have certain features in common such as: maintaining records, providing specific feedback, providing flexibility in terms of changes, providing incentives for good performance, and sharing data. 

Organic organizations also have certain similarities like: providing personalized feedback, flexibility in terms of personnel, providing solutions to various problems, and providing flexibility in terms of scheduling. However, there are significant differences between these two organizational styles, especially in terms of goals.

The main objective of an organic organization is to serve the needs of its users. 

In other words, the main task of organic structures is to ensure that users get what they need, when they need it. Another difference between the two organizational structures is that, in a mechanical organization, the main focus is on products or services. Thus, the main focus of a mechanistic team is marketing the product or service. Meanwhile, a functional team focuses on the production of products and ensuring that users get what they need.

A good example of mechanistic organization is the construction industry.

Here, there are three distinct organizational structures that have been established to ensure that the construction process goes smoothly. First, there is the local team which is made up of people who directly supervise and manage the projects. Second is the regional team, which involves people from different areas of the construction business. Finally, there is the national team which involves all people responsible for the construction process, with the highest ranking person being the president.

The focus on the values, methods, and highly adaptable practices. 

Basically a very loose framework which is heavily focused on the development of the individual rather than on the production of something. This type of organization is highly decentralized. In other words, the members are empowered to make their own decisions rather than being supervised by a higher authority. This results in a much lower overhead cost, since no central administrative structure exists.

Both of the organizational structures are highly functional and efficient. 

However, there is a big difference between the two. With the former, the overall goal is to ensure that the job specialty is highly specialized within the company. With the latter, the focus is on making the job specialization tightly controlled through departmentalization. For example, a mechanical company may have a division for analytical jobs, another for process engineering jobs, another for manufacturing jobs, and so on.

So what is the difference?

Although both of these types of organization are highly functional, they differ in terms of the overall organizational goals that they set for themselves. The organic organization is focused on ensuring the quality of the product or service while the rigid organization is more focused on ensuring the profitability of the organization. In formal terms, the rigid organization tends to be more formal and structured while the organic organization tends to be more informal and flexible. Organizational style can also be seen as a broad range of approaches to organization that vary across various types of industries.

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