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 According to Tran & Tian (2013) an organization is created by groups of individuals with the motive of attaining impacts that one individual cannot accomplish independently. In spite the fact that different theorists have defined organizations in different ways, virtually all definitions refer to some basic features, which include they are all made up of individuals and groups of individuals, they all work towards the same goal and exist independently of individuals who may come and go. Henry Mintzberg is a famous management theorist who developed a list of five basic organizational types. Mintzberg distinguished the different firms as an outcome of their combination of strategy, organizational structure and environmental power (Lunenburg, 2012). In this essay, we’ll also be looking at Taylor’s scientific management, which is the management of an organization in correspondence to the principles of efficiency obtained for the time and motion studies (Taylor, 1911).

 Mintzberg (1989) proposes that organizations can be separated from three fundamental dimensions: (1) the key part of the group, which is the part of the organization that involves crucial role in deciding the organizations success or collapse. It includes the strategic apex, operating core, middle line, technostructure and support staff. (2) The coordinating mechanism, that is, the strategy the firm uses to correlate its activities or projects. It includes the direct supervision, mutual adjustment and the standardization of work processes, outputs and skills. (3) The type of decentralization used, that is, the level to which the organization involves lower workers when making decisions. (4) Contingency factors. In respect to the four basic aspects, Mintzberg recommends that the approach an organization adopts and the level to which it uses that approach results in five structural configurations which include the simple structure, machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, divisionalized form and adhocracy (Mintzberg, 1989). Each of the five configurations depends on one of the five coordinating mechanisms and tends to support one of the five sections. The key thesis of this essay is to discuss more on Mintzberg’s five types of organizational structure, and how his work advances our understanding beyond scientific management.

The Elements of Structure

 As shown in the figure below, organizational structure can be outlined into five basic parts. The five basic parts according to Mintzberg (1980) include (A) The strategic apex, which consists of the top managers and their support staffs, their main roles is to layout the aims of the organizations and ensure that its objectives are compatible with its aims. B) The operating core, they consist of the workers that deal with the production of goods or delivery of services. C) The middle line, it consists of the middle and lower level management concerned with changing the objectives of the top managers (Strategic apex) into operational plans that workers can carry out. (D) Technostructure, As organizations grow and turn out to be more complex, they usually develop a different group of people, out of the formal line, who apply the analytic techniques to the plan of the structure. These analysts include the accountants, work schedulers and engineers. (E) Support staff members are those that provide indirect support to the organization; they include the mailroom, cafeteria and public relations.

Coordinating Mechanism

 The second fundamental dimension of an organization is the coordinating mechanism, which is the strategy the firm uses to correlate its activities or projects. According to Mintzberg (1980) and Lunenburg (2012), they suggest that coordination can be achieved through five fundamental ways, which are (A) Direct supervision, this is when one individual, usually a manager, gives particular requests to workers and then the manager organizes the work carried out by the workers. (B) Mutual adjustment, workers conveys casually with one another and organizes their job all by themselves. (C) Standardization of work processes, is when labor itself is organized or coordinated mainly by experts of the technostructure. (D) Standardization of output exists when the outcome of labor is identified. (E) Standardization of skills, exits when guidance on how to do the labor is identified.

The Type of Decentralization Used

 The third fundamental dimension of an organization in accordance to Mintzberg (1980) is the type of decentralization it employed, which is the level to which organizations involve lower workers when making decision. This includes the vertical decentralization, horizontal decentralization and selective decentralization. (A) Vertical decentralization is the distribution or circulation of power within the organizational group. (B) Horizontal decentralization is the level to which the opinions of lower workers (including the support staff) are considered in the organization. (C) Selective decentralization is a situation whereby the power to make decision is assigned to different groups within the organization.

Contingency Factors

In accordance to Mintzberg (1980), A contingency approach to management is based on the theory that management is dependent on some particular situations that include the production technology, environmental uncertainties and the size of the organization.

Simple Structure

 The Simple structure just like the term “simple” entails simplicity. The power to make decision is regularly centralised amongst the managers in the organisation, which makes the strategic apex its key part. It usually has few support staff, little or no technostructure, has a loose division of labor and a small middle line hierarchy (Mintzberg, 1980). Moreover, not all organisations work with simple organisational structure, especially large corporations that employ much staff, because they require different levels of management and hierarchy. This makes a simple organisational structure mainly for new organisations, small and entrepreneurial organisations that have no complex technostructure. The simple structure also has a direct level of communication throughout the organisation whereby the management has tight supervision over the staff hence; this makes such organisations to be efficient and flexible in delivery. In the simple structure, there is an informal flow of information within the chief executive director and other workers  (Mintzberg, 1980). Example of an organization that fits into the simple structure is a private school in which the proprietor directly relates to the principle and head teachers.

Machine bureaucracy

 This structure relies stiffly on resilient technostructure, which complements a high degree of work standardization therefore, making units of the organization tasked on functioning as a single compact unit, which makes machine bureaucracy dependent on the standardization of work processes for coordination (Mintzberg, 1980). It’s mainly detected in developed companies (Mintzberg, 1980). The chain of command in machine bureaucracy starts from the top to bottom; however, it carries levels of management with decision making very centralized; for example a car manufacturer will have the CEO, operations management, financial management, and sales management research, with all decisions coming centrally from the CEO. In machine bureaucracy, formal interaction is valued; thus, decision-making tends to follow the legal chain of power (Mintzberg, 1980). It can be found in large corporations that rely heavily on economies of scale, which are well matured, simple, settled and well established. However, because of the vigilant level of standardisation such corporations provide little or no attention to individuals; Mintzberg (1980) also observed that motivation can be difficult, and organisations can be unreceptive to the need for change. Examples of such organisations are large-scale manufacturers and governments.

Professional Bureaucracy

 According to Mintzberg (1980), the professional organisation is very bureaucratic and decentralized. Being similar to machine bureaucracy, professional bureaucracy, however, has a decentralised decision making process with a goal of providing high quality and specialised services to its clients; their similarities consist of the hierarchy levels within the corporation (Minztberg, 1980). Having said that professional organisations are decentralised in decision-making, this is due to the level of specialisation, professionalism and expertise of their employees that allow room for individual independence concerning the right course of action (Mintzberg, 1980). For example, a law firm will have the CEO and different levels of management but cannot influence the decision of a lawyer on how to handle a case in court. Therefore, individual specialist in the organisation, as well as associates from outside establishes planning within professional groups. Examples of corporations within the professional bureaucracy are hospitals, law firms and universities.

Divisional Form

Multi-Divisional Organisations structure different divisions to manage their different products and services, giving each division a management that is given autonomy to meet their targets while reporting to a central Headquarters. (Mintzberg, 1980). Putting into consideration Minztberg\'s statement one can identify that this form of organisational structure can be associated with large firms, multiple products and services in different locations, a multinational corporation is a typical example. However, the coordination of the firm is the responsibility of the headquarter; they have to adopt a strategy that will serve the interest of all its divisions while protecting their autonomy in order to avoid conflicts of interests between the divisions and the headquarter (Mintzberg, 1980). Divisionalism shares a few characteristics with machine bureaucracy; these include a simple environment for operations, large and mature company.


Mintzberg (1980) states that adhocracy is associated with advanced innovative and talented driven industries that are mainly project orientated. He added that standardization could not be a source of reliability for innovative firms to coordinate their activities. Therefore, adhocracy can be said to be the most applicable and suitable structure for innovative organisations which gives autonomy to employed professionals and specialists whose knowledge and finesse is of the highest level owed to excellent training, qualification and experience.

Taylor’s Scientific Management

 Frederick W. Taylor, the father of Scientific Management, was an American, he studied mechanical engineering, and he was an efficiency specialist and a management consultant. His main aim was to improve the productivity in organisations. Frederick W. Taylor is the writer of The Principles of Scientific Management, which was published in 1911. In his book, he presented the procedure of scientifically studying work to improve organizational and worker efficiency attained from experiments in methods of work and production, particularly from time and motion studies (Giannantonio and Hurley-Hanson, 2011). The standards underlying his presumptions added to a wide exhibit of management works within the twentieth century including assembly line production, scientific methods to determine the best way to do a job (including time and motion studies), clear division of task and responsibility between workers and managers, scientific selection, meaning managers should select and train workers, and production quotas and control (Giannantonio and Hurley-Hanson, 2011).

 One of the fundamental principles of scientific management is that it attempts scientific selection, selecting and training of industrial workers, in this way, the right person is chosen for the right kind of work (Giannantonio and Hurley-Hanson, 2011). Furthermore, it promotes the better use of assets through logical system, which eliminates wastage and inefficiency of every kind. Scientific management aims at higher profitability, and the workers get increased wages, Taylor proposed a differential motivating force arrangement for increased wages to productive workers. Scientific management restructured businesses because Taylor describes how to expand productivity by working smarter, not harder (Koumparoulis D, Solomos DK, 2012). It also brings about a cooperative relationship between workers and managers (Taylor, 1911).

 Nevertheless, despite the advantages of Taylor’s principles, he still has criticisms that individuals outlined. This brings us to how Minztberg’s organisational structure advances our understanding beyond scientific management. According to Akrani (2015), scientific management is only relevant for basic associations than for complex organizations that exist in the modern day. However, Minztberg addressed both basic and complex organisations. Complex organisations need structures like the divisional form; he discussed complexity both from the innovative and specialised perspective while simple structure can be used for basic organisations. Hence these structures give us an idea on how to tackle problems that occur in such organisations, and it provides us a better understanding of different organisations that exist in the modern day. Wagner‐Tsukamoto (2013) states how Taylor had a positive view about managers; he consistently described managers in a positive way and believed they are “heartily cooperative”. He overlooked ways to avoid communication problems amongst self-interested managers and workers, while Mintzberg tackled such issue in the sense that simple structure involves informal communication, this then aids better communication between managers and employees. It is also noted that decision-making always comes from above in scientific management while Mintzberg’s organisational structures have different structures with different centralisations and power coming from almost all key parts of the organisation. Division of labour is considered an important factor in the structure, however, Caldari, K. (2007) outlines the limitations of immoderate labor division amongst workers in scientific management, so he ignores innovation while Mintzberg’s adhocracy gives room for change. Caldari, K. (2007) added that independence is vital from an economic perspective, where workers can freely reveal their power and are not compelled to a particular task, this way, organisations become more free to face external changes and variations.


 All in all, we can tell that Taylor’s principles are based mostly on production efficiency, which makes it rather a risky barrier to development (Koumparoulis D, Solomos DK. 2012), while Mintzberg did not only consider ways to improve productivity, he was also considered on how to improve the organisational structuring, which advances our understanding and also makes it a contemporary stepping-stone to the work of management.


1. Akrani, G. (2015). Criticism of Taylor\'s Scientific Management - Limitations. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Nov. 2015].

2. Caldari, K. (2007). Alfred Marshall\'s critical analysis of scientific management. The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 14(1), pp. 55-78.

3. Giannantonio CM, Hurley-Hanson AE (2011) Frederick Winslow Taylor: Reflections on the Relevance of The Principles of Scientific Management 100 Years Later. Journal of Business and Management;17(1):7.

4. Koumparoulis D, Solomos DK. (2012) Taylor’s Scientific Management. Review Of General Management (2) pp. 149-159 [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015].

5. Lunenburg, F (2012) Organisational structure: ‘Mintzberg framework’. International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity, 14(1) pp 1-8

6. Mintzberg, H. (1980). Structure in fives: ‘Synthesis of the research on organizational design’, Management science 26(3) pp 322-341

7. Taylor, F. (1911). Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Winslow Taylor. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Nov. 2015].

8. Tran, Q. and Tian, Y. (2013). Organizational Structure: Influencing Factors and Impact on a Firm. AJIBM, 3(02), pp.229-236.

9. Wagner‐Tsukamoto, S. (2013). Scientific Management, In: SAGE Publications, Inc; 2013. Pp 677-682. Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2015].

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