Design and form: Organizational

I. Palmer, Richard Dunford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary/reference book


Organization design refers to the formal structures, practices, and processes through which organizations seek to accomplish organizational goals. A functional design involves organizing by knowledge, skills, or processes. A divisional design involves organizing by product, customer, or geographic area. Variations on these designs include the hybrid model which combines elements of both, the matrix design where staff have dual reporting lines, the professional bureaucracy which utilizes predetermined ‘solutions’ to client problems, and the adhocracy which is designed to produce novel solutions to client problems. All of these designs involve the dual issues of differentiation, that is, how the total tasks of the organization are allocated to its component parts, and the issue of integration, which refers to the need for the differentiated parts to be coordinated. A strong theme in recent writings is the argument that most established organizational designs are unsuited to the demands of rapidly changing ‘hypercompetitive’ environments. While some writers advocate their replacement by flexible designs—described variously as network, virtual, intelligent, boundaryless, self-managing, or centerless—others suggest that these new forms should coexist with, not replace, traditional designs
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences
EditorsNeil J. Smelser, Paul B. Baltes
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9780080430768
ISBN (Print)0080430767
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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