According to L.A. Allen "Organizing is the process of identifying and grouping the work to be performed, defining and delegating responsibility and authority, and establishing relationships for the purpose of enabling people to work most effectively together in accomplishing objectives.³  According to Stephen P. Robbins and Mary Coulter, µorganizing¶ is ³determining what tasks are to be done, who is to do them, how the tasks are to be grouped, who reports to whom, and where decisions are to be made.´  

Organizing is a management function involving assigning duties, grouping tasks, delegating authority and responsibility and allocating resources to carry out a specific plan in an efficient manner.

Benefits of Organizing 

The process of organizing helps an individual develop a clear picture of the tasks he or she is expected to accomplish. Organizing creates channels of communication and thus supports decision-making and control. The process of organizing helps maintain the logical flow of work activities. By so doing, it helps individuals and workgroups to easily accomplish their tasks. Organizing helps an organization make efficient use of its resources and avoid conflict and duplication of effort. Organizing coordinates activities that are diverse in nature and helps build harmonious relationships among members involved in those activities.

Principles of organization 

Unity of command: To ensure the smooth flow of authority in the organization, each individual has to report to a single superior. This approach helps managers to avoid the possibility of conflicting orders. For instance, worker A reports to Manager I, worker B reports to Manager II etc., and managers review their subordinates' performance individually, i.e., Manager I reviews the work of worker A only. Hierarchy of authority :The aim of this principle is to ensure the pursuit of organizational goals by the employees in a coordinated manner. If an organization contains a well-defined line of authority, it becomes easier for the employees to coordinate and contribute their efforts, in achieving organizational goals.   

Authority and responsibility: Authority is defined as the right to get work done through subordinates, whereas responsibility is the obligation of an individual to accomplish the assigned work. When a manager delegates authority, commensurate responsibility must also be expected in return. Conversely, when an individual is held responsible for accomplishing a particular task, adequate authority to complete the task should also be given to him or her. Delegation of Authority: A superior has the right to get tasks accomplished by his subordinates, but the responsibility for getting the task done still lies with the superior. For instance, the top-level can delegate research activity (data collection) to the marketing department, but the authority (data analysis, interpretation and final decision) shall continue to rest with the top level only.

Formal Vs informal organization  

Formal organization: A formal organization is a group of people working together cooperatively, under authority, towards goals that mutually benefit the participants and the organization. Informal organization: describes the pattern of behavior and interaction, that stems from personal, rather than official relationships. In other words, informal organizations are created by the group members themselves, with the purpose of accomplishing goals that may or may not be relevant to the organization. 

An informal organization lays emphasis on people and their relationships, whereas a formal organization lays emphasis on official positions in terms of authority and responsibility. Therefore, in an informal organization, µpower¶ is associated with a person. But in a formal organization, µpower¶ is associated with a position, since, a person has it only when he or she occupies that position. In other words, in informal organizations, power is purely personal in origin, while in formal organizations, power is institutional in origin.

Formal Vs Informal organization
Basis of Comparison General nature Major concepts Primary focus Source of leader power Guidelines for behavior Sources of control Formal Organization Official Authority and responsibility Position Delegated by management Rules Rewards and penalties Informal Organization Unofficial Power and politics Person Delegated by management Norms Sanctions  

To study the total organization (which includes both formal and informal organizations), George Homans developed a model based on three concepts: activities, interactions, and sentiments. Activities include all that an individual actually does; interactions refers to an individual¶s personal and social relationships with others; and sentiments refer to an individual¶s emotional reaction to various organizational issues. In a formal organization, the manager establishes the relationships between his subordinates, asks them to follow orders, and directs them to perform the tasks in a specified manner and work as a team. The subordinates are expected to possess certain sentiments about the organization, the manager, and the work. But, informal relationships develop spontaneously, supplementing or modifying the formal relationships established by the management. For example, an informal relationship may be established among people who may have lunch together. Informal relationships can help a company attain organizational goals as people may  

find it easier to seek help from someone they know even if they are from a different department, than from a person whom they know only at a formal level. There is no official chain of command in the informal organization, since power is not determined by the management but is determined by one¶s relations with other members of the group. Since informal power depends on interpersonal relationships, it does not remain consistent like formal power. Further, since people¶s sentiments cannot be controlled by management, informal organizations cannot be controlled by management as precisely as formal organizations.  

Even as the formal organization grows to an immense size, informal groups tend to remain small and stay restricted to personal relationships. Though small in size, a large number of groups operate within an organization. Informal groups need not be restricted to people within the organization ± they may have external members as well. However, due to their small size and instability, informal organizations cannot be a substitute for the formal set-up. They only supplement it. A formal organization defines jobs clearly and specifies the authority relationships and job responsibilities of individuals. On the other hand, an informal organization is a network of personal and social relationships that are not necessitated by the formal organization.   

A formal organization is established by the management and is official in nature, whereas an informal organization is not officially recognized by the management. Informal organizations are formed as people interact with one another in an organization. In a formal organization, the focus is on the position held by a person within the organization and his authority and responsibilities. On the other hand, in an informal organization, the focus is on people and their relationships with each other. In a formal organization, power is derived from the position held by an individual. In other words, the power in a formal organization is delegated by the management. In an informal organization, power is purely personal in origin.  

Behavior in a formal organization is governed by rules and regulations. In an informal organization, however, group norms decide the appropriate behavior of its members. In a formal organization, control is exerted through rewards and punishments. In an informal organization, control over behavior of members is exercised through norms and sanctions. Formal organizations grow in size over time. However, informal organizations tend to remain small in order to allow their members to maintain personal relationships with one another.


Organizations are growing in terms of size and geographical coverage, thereby increasing the workload of executives. To cope up with this workload, managers should delegate routine activities to their subordinates. Delegation of such activities would leave managers free to handle key strategic issues. The span of control refers to the number of subordinates a superior can supervise efficiently and effectively. According to Kathryn M. Bartol and David C. Martin, ³The span of management or span of control is the number of subordinates who report directly to a specific manager.´  

The span of control is a very important principle that emphasizes the need for coordination among the subordinates working under a particular manager. A manager can effectively manage usually four to eight subordinates at the upper levels, and eight to fifteen subordinates at the lower levels. According to the British consultant, Lyndall Urwick, the ideal number of subordinates for a higher level executive should be four while the number of subordinates for an executive at the lower level may be eight or twelve. Others are of the view that a manager can manage twenty to thirty subordinates. None of these studies indicated the actual span of control.

Tall Versus Flat Structure 

The span of management has a direct effect on the number of hierarchical levels in an organization. A tall structure comprises many hierarchical levels with narrow spans of control. Example: GE is the classic example of a tall structure, since it consists of several hierarchal levels.

Disadvantages of tall structure 
Firstly, as the number of levels increase, the effort and

expenditure involved in managing them also increases. Extra costs are incurred on hiring additional managers and staff for their assistance, and for coordinating departmental activities. These costs are referred to as overheads and are a burden to the organization. Thus, having a large number of levels is an expensive affair.

Tall Structure  

It is much more difficult to communicate the objectives, policies, plans and procedures in organizations with a tall structure. This is because of omission and misinterpretation of messages while they are being transmitted from one level to the other levels of the organization. Numerous departments and levels make the planning and controlling tasks complicated. A plan made at the top level may appear to be definite and complete, but as the plan is subdivided at lower levels, it may lose its clarity. The controlling task also becomes difficult due to additional levels and managers.  

Due to these disadvantages, many organizations opt for downsizing. According to Bartol and Martin, ³Downsizing is the process of significantly reducing the layers of middle management, increasing the span of control, and shrinking the size of the workforce for purposes of improving its efficiency and effectiveness.´ Another term, which is synonymously used with downsizing is ³restructuring´. ³Restructuring is the process of making a major change in the organizational structure that often involves reducing management levels.´ Restructuring involves decreasing an organization¶s workforce. For instance, Ford Motor Company cut down its management levels after it realized that it was managing 12 levels of hierarchy as compared to 7 layers at Toyota. Ford realized that they were bearing administrative overheads. Once Ford opted for reduction in organizational levels, Toyota also followed suit and reduced its management levels further.

Flat structure
A flat structure has a wide span of control and fewer hierarchical levels. In a flat structure, tasks are highly inter-related. One of the early management writers, V.A.Graicunas tried to analyze the increase in the number of interactions and relationships by increasing the number of subordinates under a particular manager. He stated that a manager should not only consider direct one-to-one relationships with his or her subordinates but should also recognize the importance of crossrelationships among the subordinates and interactions between groups of two or more subordinates. For instance, a manager who supervises three people under him interacts with them at three levels: firstly with each person as an individual, secondly with all three subordinates as a group and with three different groups of two employees each.

Organization Structure with Spans/Flat Structures

Factors Determining an Effective Span
However, the most important factor for determining an effective span of management is the manager¶s ability to reduce the time he or she spends with subordinates. This depends on the competence of the manager and nature of the task to be completed. The principle of the span of management states that there is a limit to the number of subordinates a manager can effectively supervise, but the exact number will depend on the impact of underlying factors. 

Trained subordinates
Well-trained subordinates perform their tasks efficiently without requiring much guidance from their superior. Thus, well-trained subordinates reduce the number of contacts needed and save the manager¶s time. For such employees, the manager only needs to provide broad guidelines for a particular task and he can therefore manage a large number of subordinates.  

Clarity of delegation of authority The main reason why a manager is overburdened with time-consuming contacts with subordinates is because tasks have not been organized properly and delegation of authority is not clear. A well-trained subordinate can perform a task without taking much of the manager¶s time, provided the manager delegates authority clearly. On the other hand, if the task is not clearly defined or if the subordinate does not have sufficient authority to perform the task, the manager may have to spend a considerable time supervising the subordinate¶s efforts. Clarity of plans Much of what a subordinate is expected to do depends on the plans that are to be implemented. Therefore, plans should be well-defined, workable, and the authority required to implement them should be appropriately delegated. This will enable the subordinate to clearly understand what is expected of him or her. This will save the superior¶s time and allow him to implement the plan efficiently. 

The supervisor should also ensure that these policies are understood by the subordinates. This helps to reduce the time taken up by superior-subordinate contacts. Use of objective standards Managers should get adequate feedback from their subordinates to find out if the subordinates have understood the plans and are following them. This feedback may be obtained either by personal observation or through objective standards. Welldesigned objective standards show if there has been any deviation from the plans. They help a manager avoid time-consuming contacts and pay attention to those aspects that are very important for the successful implementation of plans. 

Communication techniques
The span of management is also influenced by the effectiveness of the communication techniques used. If managers had to convey every plan, instruction and order personally to subordinates, they would have no time to do their own work. Therefore, some managers use administrative staff or assistants to communicate with key subordinates. The number of subordinates under a manager can be increased if the manager is able to communicate plans and instructions in a clear and concise manner. A superior who can express himself well would make a subordinate¶s job easier by eliminating the need for the subordinate to seek further clarifications. But if he is not able to do so, the subordinate may seek more meetings with the superior to clear his or her doubts. As a result, the manager may spend a disproportionate amount of time with the subordinate. Recent technological advances have made it possible to get tasks done with fewer subordinates. Most modern offices are equipped with fax, teleconferencing, Internet and networking facilities. These modes of communication help save the manager¶s time and enhance his span of control.  

Amount of personal contact needed In many situations, face-to-face meetings are essential. This is because such situations cannot be handled only through written reports, planning documents, memoranda, policy statements and the like. Personal contact helps clarify the doubts of subordinates, encourages them to share their ideas with their superiors, and boosts their morale. Personal interaction between the manager and subordinates is essential when a subordinate¶s performance has to be appraised, when a problem has to be communicated. Personnel matters such as grievance procedures, performance appraisals and such require the superior to spend time on one-to-one interactions with subordinates.