Designing Effective Organizations
1) Describe the four characteristics common to all organizations, explain the difference between closed and open systems, and contrast the military/mechanical, biological, and cognitive systems metaphors for organizations.
Four characteristics common to all organizations:
Kinicki, and Kreitner, (2009, p. 378, para 2) mentions that “according to Chester I Barnard’s classic definition, an organization is a system of consciously coordinated activities or forces of two or more persons.”
In above definition, term “consciously coordination” (2009, p. 378, para 2) mentions four common denominators / common characteristics of all organizations. These factors are referred as “organization’s structure” by organization theorists (2009, p. 378, para 2). They are as follows:
1) Coordination of efforts: “is achieved through formulation and enforcement of policies, rules, and regulation” (2009, p. 378, para 3).
2) A common goal: refers to “collective purpose” (2009, p. 396, para 1).
3) Division of labor: “occurs when the common goal is pursued by individuals performing different but related tasks” (2009, p. 378, para 3).
4) A hierarchy of authority: “is also called the chain of commands. [It] is a control mechanism dedicated to making sure [that] the right people do the right things at right time” (2009, p. 378, para 3).
Difference between closed and open systems:
According to Kinicki, and Kreitner, (2009, p. 381, para 3) “distinction between closed and open system is a matter of degree, because every system [in world] is partly closed and partly open.” Hence, “the role played by environment in functioning of system,” (2009, p. 381, para 3) decides the nature of system.
Closed systems: According to Kinicki, and Kreitner, (2009, p. 381, para 3) closed system “is a self-sufficient entity [and] It is closed to surrounding environment.” “[It] believes [in] rigorous planning and control [that] would eliminate environmental uncertainty” (2009, p. 381, para 4).
Example: “a battery powered clock is a relatively closed system, once battery is inserted, clock performs time-keeping function, [and once battery is dead, it stops functioning]” (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 3).
Open systems: According to Kinicki, and Kreitner, (2009, p. 381, para 3) “open system [is one which] depends on constant interaction with the environment for survival.” “Open system are capable of self-correction, adaptation, and growth [due to] homeostasis [/state of equilibrium], and feedback control” (2009, p. 381, para 3). Example: “Human body is highly open system because it is requires a constant supply of [vital elements for survival] from the environment [such as] oxygen [and] nutrients” (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 3).
Contrast the military/mechanical, biological, and cognitive systems metaphors for organizations:
Kinicki, and Kreitner, (2009, p. 381, para 4) mentions that “[looking back to history,] management theorists [considered] closed system thinking to characterize organizations [that are] either [like] machines or highly disciplined military units.” In other words military/mechanical systems metaphors for organization are like closed system, which “is a self-sufficient body that is closed to surrounding environment [and it] believed [in] rigorous planning and control [that] would eliminate environmental uncertainty, [so were] proved unrealistic” (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 3-4).
Indirectly Kinicki, and Kreitner, (2009, p. 381, 3-4) mentions Biological and cognitive metaphors for the organization as an open system. According to “general system theory, organization theorist suggested a more dynamic models of organization”(Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 4). They “linked [such] open system model organization to human bodies” (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 4). Such “organization [are like] living organisms that [can] transform inputs into various outputs, [whose] outer boundary is permeable, [and] people, information, capital, goods and services [can] move back and forth across the boundary” (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 4). Also “goals and values, technical, psychological, structural and managerial [aspects of such systems are] dependent on the others, feedback about things as sales, and customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction enables the organization to self-adjust and survive despite uncertainty and change, [meaning] organization is alive” (Kinicki, & Kreitner, 2009, p. 381, para 4).
Cognitive is a term referred in medical or psychological terminology as: cerebral / mental / intellectual / perceptive / understanding etc, which means being related to processes occurring in human mind. Though nothing is mentioned directly by author regarding this metaphor, but indirectly authors have tried to associate / link such organization with the human mind, that is capable of understanding / interpreting and learning from uncertain / ambiguous situations.
Kinicki, A., & Kreitner, R. (2009) Organizational behavior: Key concepts, skills and best practices (International 4th Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin. ISBN: 9780071285582