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PowerPoint to accompany

Organisation Theory
CONCEPTS AND CASES

5e
Stephen Robbins Neil Barnwell

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

Chapter one

An overview

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

Aims of this lecture

Describe the discipline of organisation theory


Explain the systems perspective Describe the life cycle perspective Explain the approach of this book to organisation theory

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

What is an organisation?
An organisation is a consciously coordinated social entity, with a relatively identifiable boundary, which functions on a relatively continuous basis to achieve a common goal or set of goals

Every organisation has a structure. The structure may be described in terms of complexity, formalisation and centralisation

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

What is organisation design and organisational theory?


Organisation design refers to the process by which an organisations structure is determined

Organisation theory is the discipline which studies the structure and design of organisations
Organisation theory also includes study of areas such as organisation change, culture, growth and decline and gender

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

The biological metaphor


We use a metaphor when we compare something with which we may be unfamiliar with something we are familiar with Using metaphors, organisations have been compared to biological organisms The two most common metaphors are the organisation as a system and the organisation life cycle

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

The systems perspective


A system is a set of interrelated and interdependent parts arranged in a manner to produce a unified output, An open system has extensive environmental interaction. It is dependent upon the environment for its existence and must respond to environmental changes

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

The basic open system

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

Characteristics of an open system


Environmental awareness there is interdependence between the organisation and its environment Feedback the system adjusts to information from its environment Cyclical character the system consists of a cycle of events

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

Characteristics of a open system


continued:

Tendency towards growth without active intervention i.e. management, the system winds down and disintegrates Steady state resources are drawn from the environment to replace those used up in production Movement towards growth and expansion the more sophisticated the system, the more it is likely to grow and expand

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Characteristics of an open system


continued:

There is a balance between maintenance activities (those that provide stability and preserve the status quo) and adaptive activities (those that allow the system to adapt over time)

Equifinality there are different ways of reaching the same outcome even if the starting point and methods used are different

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Life cycle perspective


Organisations may be seen as moving through patterns of predictable change which move from establishment to dissolution This is called the organisations life cycle

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Life cycle perspective


continued:

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Life cycle perspective


continued:
Formation informal communication and ambiguous goals
Growth Emergence of a formal structure, growth of rules and regulations and an emphasis on efficiency Maturity diversified with a complex structure and decentralised decision making Decline centralisation, conflict and high employee turnover
Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Positivism
This subject takes a positivist approach
In doing this it assumes that research based upon scientific methodology can expand knowledge of organisations It also seeks to improve organisational effectiveness by identifying appropriate structures for organisations In doing this it develops normative theories

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Critical theory
In contrast, critical theory concentrates on organisations perceived shortcomings and deficiencies Post-modern approaches emphasise power differences and challenge the independence of scientific research and its claim to impartiality

Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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Discussion questions
What is the difference between an informal group and an organisation? What benefit does the use of metaphor provide for students of organisations? Apply each of the characteristics of an open system to an organisation you are familiar with. Why would organisations want to grow? Is organisation decline inevitable? Why would this book use a positivist approach? Does critical theory produce research which is of use to managers?
Robbins, Barnwell: Organisation Theory 5e 2007 Pearson Education Australia

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