Organization Theories for Administering
Paul M. Mascareñas
Emporia State University-
Organization Theory Reflective Essay
The areas of Organization Theory that left an impression were the levels at which organization theory is explained and applied. The textbook succinctly traces the origins of organization theory before it was considered a science or theory to be defined, applied, and extrapolated. In various instances of any organization therein lies the crux of organization theory. The course explains the abstract concept that the organism breathes, exists, and ultimately affects an environment or is itself affected by its surroundings.
The paper hopes to illustrate how the study of organization theory, from its inception before terms were designated to explain administrative practices to contemporary applications of theories and how that affects and is affected by culture, structure, technology, and other environmental components. Organizations and the theories that help to explain their role are sometimes universal in their purpose when described within the elements of organization theory. There are distinctions and mitigating factors that change the appearance and purpose of any organization, however, to illustrate these similarities and disparities, a final group organization project helped to solidify difficult and abstract concepts to a more attainable understanding of the theories that explain the organization.
Author’s Wren, Bedlam, and Breeze (2002) traced the foundation of Henri Fayol’s administrative theory and its application to the mining industry in the beginning of the twentieth century. The article offers a deeper look into the organization and all of its subsystems; understanding the most important element of the organization is the people that work on not only the floors and offices of the structure but in the mines as well. To understand the organization is important to us as a society and as individuals; for many, our vocation defines us. The author’s utilize text from Fayol’s address to the International Mining and Metallurgical Congress in 1900, when he noted the importance of recognizing the true resource of an organization, “…We must try and master ourselves, to discover and apply the laws which will make the organization and running of administrative machinery as perfect as possible” (Wren, et al., 2002). Before making a change in an organization, one must understand the human element within that organization.
Since that time, organizations in every field, e.g., business, military, education, and even how people unite and organize by ethnicity, has evolved and changed immensely. A people’s movement can also be classified as an organization. For example, The Civil Rights Movement or the Chicano Movement ultimately is an organization that collected members unto itself, although spread throughout the United States, congealed around a particular mission, vision, and goal to affect change in their environment. Many of the basic tenets of organization theory are applicable in a number of these seemingly disparate organizations.
It is safe to assume that a movement as organization has the basic tenets of a physical structure. The Civil Rights Movement as organization may have a physical headquarters in which it conducts its business. Though it may manifest under a particular banner for example, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP) or REFORMA for the Latino population, that an organization and the theory of organization manifests and is understood. The dynamics of this organizational culture has numerous artifacts, symbols, norms, values, assumptions, heroes, myths, and stories. Some of these artifacts are denoted in history as cruel and unfair treatment i.e., slavery or the symbols of this organization may be the Civil War. Norms and values are important in the culture of many Latino and African-American families and is the source of strength in the organization. Heroes abound in these organizations for example, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Cesar Chavez. Other heroes and stories that accompany the Women’s Movement for example are Margaret Sanger or Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
The human as organization is as complex and diverse as any edifice housing a myriad of offices. The study of organization theory attempts to dissect every aspect of an organization in its environment and what kind of environment it creates internally; the organization within the organization. By studying such a multi-faceted organism as the individual, those who study organization theory have an enormous wealth of information in which to test hypotheses. The person faces varying degrees of choices within their organization in which to carry out directives and implement administrative responsibility. This infinite study can apply to various theories or components that affect the employee/employer relationship and organization/environment relationship.
The theories within the textbook help to link the relationship between the person and their environment. People exposed to technology according to Woodward’s typology, explains how technology affects the position of the workforce. Just as Fayol’s observation in the mining industry helped his organizational structure perform more efficiently, Woodward could surmise the increased effectiveness of the organization as the exposure to “core technology” was significant. Technology is just one of the elements that Woodward’s theory addresses. Whether a hospital, business, or library, access to technology and using it can help increase production, make tasks once difficult and expensive, easy and cost-effective. This example helps to illustrate the relationship of an organization and its modernist approach to technology (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006).
From the linear technology of an assembly line to the office organism with the cubicle environment, theories of organization are applicable and can connect actions, reactions, and relationships. The hospital is an excellent example of an organization as an organism that exemplifies a finely tuned machine, utilizing various components to ultimately serve humans. The human resource theory applies to their mission and relationship to the environment in which they serve (Hatch & Cunliffe, 2006).
To understand the variables that affects an organization from within to the external environment has proven to be one of the most impressionable aspects of the study of organization theory and how group projects ultimately illustrate the underpinnings of organization theory. Theories and the components of the social structure of an organization aided my understanding of the organization in its surroundings and to the persons working in that organization.
Group projects encompassed the traditional building and employee relationship to the fictitious organization. Each one successfully explained the goals, objectives, and mission of their unique organization. Organizational charts helped to dissect the inner-workings of their particular group. The success of the group project, in my opinion, was how each group applied an organization theory to a scenario or in their environmental components. All structures varied in their appearance and in their role to serve a community, but the dynamics of the organization remained fluid and observable within the science of organization theory.
Hatch, M.J. & Cunliffe, A.L. (2006). Organization theory: Modern, symbolic, and postmodern perspectives (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Wren, D.A., Bedeian, A.G., & Breeze, J.D. (2002). The foundations of Henri Fayol’s administrative theory. Management Decision, 40(9), 906-918.