Organizational Structure

Topics: Organization, Inverse relationship, Organizational studies Pages: 31 (8715 words) Published: August 7, 2013
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Review 1980, Vol.5, No. 1,49-64 Academyof Management

Structure Organization
A

Critical

and Performance: Review1

DAN R. DALTON Indiana University WILLIAM TODOR D. The Ohio State University MICHAELJ. SPENDOLINI GORDON J. FIELDING LYMANW. PORTER University of California- Irvine We examine the literature addressing the empiricalrelationships,if any, between organizationstructureand performance,and draw distinctions between "hard" and "soft" performancecriteria, subgroup versus organizationunitsof analysis, and "structuring" versus "structural" dimensionsof structure. Our concluding recommendationsfor futureresearch are offered not as the inevitableprescriptionbutratherin the interestof correcting markeddeficiencies and imbalances. Organization structure may be considered the anatomy of the organization, providing a foundation within which the organization functions. Organization structure is believed to affect the behavior of organization members. As Hall [1977] noted, this belief is based on a simple observation. Buildings have halls, stairways, entries, exits, walls, and roofs. The specific structure of a building is a major determinant of the activities of the people within it. Similarly, behavior in organizations is influenced by the organizing structure. The influence of this structure, while not as apparent as that of a building, is assumed to be pervasive. All organizations have structure. Hall suggested that structure has two basic functions, each of which is likely to affect individual behavior and organizational performance: "First, structures are 1We gratefully acknowledge the support received for the preparation of this paper from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (Contract No. CA-11-0016) and the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Irvine. ? 1980 by the Academyof Management 0363-7425

designed to minimize or at least regulate the influence of individualvariations on the organization," and "structure is the setting in which power is exercised ..., decisions are made ..., and ... the organization's activities are carried out" [p. 109]. Van de Ven [1976] highlighted the importance of structure both at the organization and subunit levels for the performance (efficiency, morale, and effectiveness) of organizations. Organization structure has been subject to recent journal review [Cummings & Berger, 1976; Ford & Slocum, 1977; James & Jones, 1976; Ouchi & Harris, 1974; Scott, 1975] and has been the topic of several recent books [Burack & Neghandhi, 1977; Galbraith, 1977; Khandwalla, 1977; Kilman, Pondy, & Slevin, 1976; MacKenzie, 1978; Melcher, 1976; Pfeffer, 1978]. However, the association between structural variables and performance - perhaps the single most important dependent variable in both the public and private sector - has been largely ignored. James and Jones, for instance, reviewed the conceptual relationships between organization structure and individual attitudes and behavior. Scott examined the effect of technology 49

This content downloaded from 41.13.52.46 on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 08:32:37 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

on selected structural variables. Ford and Slocum and Ouchi and Harris reviewed the structuralliterature with respect to technology and environment. Cummings and Berger conservatively estimated that within the last decade nearly 50 research studies examined the relations of organization structure to member's attitudes and behavior. Their review found performance to be considered as a dependent variable in only two cases: Farris [1969] and Ingham [1970]. Porter and Lawler's earlier [1965] exhaustive review was focused primarilyon attitude...
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