Work Behavior and Structure
Organizational culture and organizational structure are two closely intertwined terms that are not entirely separable. These are two aspects have a significant bearing on the attitudes and behavior of individuals within the organization. By and large, organizational culture encompasses the collection of issues and small topics within the organization. Similarly, organizational structure refers to different infrastructural practices and methods that enable organizational culture to perform its functions effectively, efficiently, and consistently (Contreras, 2007). As such, organizational structure is critical in the creation and set up of organizational culture. Simply put, the operations of the organizational structure are directly tied to the manner of handling and management organizational culture operations. Organizational structure is essential in facilitating communication and increasing departmental coordination. Organizational is largely related to bureaucracy due the need for standardizing different operations, paperwork, and processes within the organization.
Organizational structure defines the manner of dividing, grouping, and coordinating tasks and as well, defines the criteria of controlling, coordinating, and motivating employees. This process entails key elements such as departmentalization, chain of command, and work specialization, span of control, formalization, centralization, and decentralization (Contreras, 2007). In order to bring a clear understanding of concepts relating to organizational culture and structure, the organizational culture (s) and culture (s) of a local company (Emirates Cooperative Society) and an international company (Nike) will be examined.
Emirates Cooperative Society
Emirates Cooperative Society (ECS) is an organization in the United Arab Emirates that was established and incorporated to deliver quality services to stakeholders and as well, to enhance the economic and social statuses of the UAE (Emirates Cooperative Society, 2011). Through its supermarket chains, the Emirates Cooperative Society has not only managed to lower prices of essential non-food and food items but also it provides pleasant shopping experience coupled with a wide variety of choices to all clients. ECS core values include achieving increasing financial results and performance, providing goods at competitive prices, delivering high quality customer service and care, and achieving dominance in the industry (Emirates Cooperative Society, 2011). The General Manager, Farid Al Shamandy, heads the management of ECS and the Board of directors consisting of seven (7) members provides the guidance.
Nike is leading company in the design, marketing, and distribution of athletic footwear, equipment, apparel, and accessories consisting of a range of sports and fitness activities (Datamonitor Report, 2011). Nike has international operations in the Americas, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Asia Pacific. The President and Chief Executive Officer (Mark G. Parker) is the highest-ranking employee in the company and comprises the Executive Board together with the Chairman, Philip H. Knight (Datamonitor Report, 2011). Under them are 11 directors of the non-executive board, and Senior Management officials comprising of 4 Presidents and 6 Vice Presidents.
Contrasts and Comparisons
The General Manager heads emirates Cooperative Society and hence, it exhibits a flat organizational structure. There are fewer management levels at ECS considering that the executive management consists of the general manager who is assisted by the board of directors. As such, it becomes easier for ECS to focus on the needs of customers while at the same time empowering employees. The act of cooperativeness also enables ECS to tap the creative talents of employees and enable them to realize the mission and vision objectives.
Nike is a large and complex organization with complex processes that calls for the need of a tall hierarchy to facilitate its management functions. The increased international presence necessitated the need for increased management levels and hence the tall structure.
The chain of command is longer at Nike as compared to the Chain of command at Emirates Cooperative Society. Equally, the Span of control at ECS is shorter than that at Nike because of the increased number of subordinates controlled by a manager at Nike.
Centralization is high at Emirates Cooperative Society due the concentration of decision making at the General Managers office. Similarly, decentralization is higher at Nike given that employees at different senior management positions can undertake decision-making processes.
In terms of work specialization, organizational tasks are highly subdivided at Nike as compared to the division of tasks at ECS. Jobs at Nike are also highly formalized (Standardized) while ECS has less formalization in terms of jobs.
Lastly, there is high departmentalization at both organizations due to the existence of different ways with which jobs can be grouped together. This includes the categorization of jobs based on geography, process, functions performed, or the different types of customers. At Nike, majority of these structures are combined.
The management and performance of any organization is highly influenced by the relationships between the organizational culture and structure. As earlier mentioned, Organizational culture and organizational structure are two closely intertwined terms that are not entirely separable and hence, the management of organizational structure determines the manner of controlling the behavior of cultures (Anne, Clinkscales, & Walker, 2003). For this reason, the relationship between these two terms influences the performance of the business in different ways including the following;
Reduced span of control and chain of commands minimizes the complexities associated with the management of employees and operations. The clear lines of responsibility and distinct management layers in tall organizational structures enables businesses to improve business operations. Equally tall structures can bring with them increased challenges to the organization. These challenges include complexities in communication lines and decision-making processes.
Flat organizational structures provide excellent opportunities for motivating employees and as well as promoting business visions and values. Organizations with flat organizational structures such as the Emirates Cooperative Society have high chances of adopting flexibilities in their operational activities without necessarily having to affect other operations within the company.
Strict and long chain of commands or span of control hampers the speed with which vital decisions can be made in many organizations.
Work specialization, standardization, and departmentalization enable many an organization to achieve efficiency and improved operational outcomes due to the division of work among various individuals. Work specialization enables employees to concentrate and horn their skills only those tasks that they have the requisite expertise. Standardization of tasks promotes equality in terms of tasks undertaken by employees irrespective of their location. Finally yet important, departmentalization assists organizations to categorize jobs into different categories to facilitate easier management and work specialization.
Although there are evident relationship between organizational culture and structure, some controversies exists that related to organizational culture. For instance, some critics argue that managers should be responsible for influencing the culture and effectiveness within an organization while others argue that the idea of a concept is of no importance to the company. According to Edger Schein’s model of organizational culture, surface manifestations, values, and basic assumptions are three that characterize organizational culture and the distinctions within these levels can only be achieved through visibility and accessibility. For instance, surface manifestations are evidenced at Nike through the eyes of Bill Bowerman from which Nike’s vision is derived.
Speaking of organizational structures, theories have been formulated to explain the different types of organizational structures. Organizational structures are described based on the manner of organizing tasks. Examples of organizational structures/theories include bureaucratic structures, divisional structures, functional theories, matrix structures, and hierarchical models. These theories/models are defined based on their compositions. Hence, it can be concluded that;
Organizational structures at Nike and Emirates Cooperative Society are defined based on job descriptions, tasks, and job standardization
Culture is determined by values, beliefs, and surface manifestations
Performance, results, and outcomes of operational activities is determined by the compositions and forms of organizational structure
The foundation and core objectives of any organizations will determine the work behavior and structure of the organization.
In light of the factors and concepts discussed above, it is undeniable that organizational culture and organizational structures play a significant role in determining the success and performance of many organizations. For this reason, the Managements of Nike and Emirates cooperative society should implement the following measures to attain success:
Identify key success factors and relate them to the organizational culture and structure. For instance, at Emirates Cooperative Society core values include achieving increasing financial results and performance, providing goods at competitive prices, delivering high quality customer service and care, and achieving dominance in the industry. Hence, the organizational culture should be person-centered, performance-centered, and task-centered.
At Nike, the organizational culture and structure should be flexible depending on the region of operation and the type of departmentalization. The needs of different organizational factors and structures should be balanced against the required objectives of that organization.
For both organizations, the organizational culture and structure adopted based on the most suitable framework that brings efficient results. This will entail examination of factors such as the chain of command, span of control, work specialization, departmentalization, and decentralization/centralization.
Anne, M. N., Clinkscales, M. J. Walker, F., R. 2003. Understanding organizations through
culture and structure: relational and other lessons from the African-American
Contreras, C. 2007. Organizational Structure and Culture: Promising Practices that lead to
cultural and Intellectual Diversity. University of Wisconsin
Datamonitor Report, 2011. Nike Inc. Company Profile. Datamonitor
Emirates Cooperative Society, 2011. The ECS Profile. (Online). Accessed on November 10,
2011 from http://www. emiratescoop. ae/