Home > Free Essays > Business > Organizational Management > Organizational Culture and Physical Structure

Organizational Culture and Physical Structure Essay

Exclusively available on IvyPanda Available only on IvyPanda
Updated: Dec 15th, 2021


The modern world has seen growth in technology and major advancements in all sectors of the economy. The world turned has into a global village as businesses run across borders with an aim of increasing customer base. This has led to different people joining hands with a common purpose and objectives to achieve. As a result, different organizations have been formed to consolidate the efforts of different people in attaining certain set targets. According to Hatch and Cunliffe (2006, p. 2), an organization is a social arrangement that aims at attaining certain goals agreed upon by the members. It has set procedures to regulate its performance and coverage extent that distinguishes it from the environment. The business dictionary defines an organization as a social unit of various people who are managed and arranged in a systematic manner with an aim of achieving certain needs or collective goals and which is continuous in the provision of its services or goods. Organizations are studied by scholars from different fields of social sciences including the following; sociology, anthropology, social and industrial psychology, political science, engineering among others. Therefore, a study of organization is a broad area that involves the application of different theories to explain the different concepts used (Robbins, & Barnwell, 2006, p.6). During the late 19th century, there were various social changes taking place and as a result, various scholars of that time postulated different theories of organization. A theory is a coherent group of general prepositions that are used as general principles to offer an explanation to a class of phenomena (American Heritage Dictionary, 2005, para. 6). Hatch and Cunliffe suggest that organizational theories encapsulate the history of human ideas and enhance flexibility and dynamism of students which is helpful in times of complexity and rapid change. The early theorists include the following; Emile Durkheim who is the founder of Structural Functionalism and was more concer5ned with social integration and division of labor. Karl Marx did a lot of studies on organizations through analysis of capitalistic class relations through consideration of exploitation of laborers by their employers. He viewed employers as the owners of means of production who exploited workers to maximize profits and get the benefits (Brown & Morgan, 1979, p.49). Max Weber was able to identify the strengths and limitations of rationality and bureaucracy and their effects on organizational behavior. This essay looks at how Modern, Symbolic-Interpretive, and Post-Modern perspectives of organizations encourage certain ways of thinking and speaking in an organizational setup.


According to Griswold (2001, p.230), ontology is a philosophical study that involves gaining knowledge on the nature of being, the existence of a given phenomenon or a reality about something, and the categorization of the being and the relations between these categories. In organizational studies, there is a need to generate knowledge on organizations through the application of theories and the collection and analysis of different data concerning organizational structure. Ontology, therefore, looks at objectivism of the existence of an organization (Winograd 1987, p. 203). It intends to give insight into the existence of an objective reality about organizations that are much independent of our knowledge of it. It considers the organization as a complex phenomenon that exists (being) and is at times beyond human conceptualization (Weber 1987, p. 42. According to Mintzberg (1983, p. 61), informal analysis of organization structure is categorized into five basic configurations. These are communication aspects, shared goals, authority, position, and work process. The different parts of the organization are separated by the distinct roles that they play to achieve the coordination of the above-mentioned categories. According to Hassard and Pym (1990, p. 88), language in the bureaucratic system does not act as a medium of transferring information but as a tool for social interaction and control. In recent times, Robbins and Barnwell (2006, p. 79) have come up with a different way of modeling organizations. Under this method, organizations are composed of social actors whose behaviors are intentional depending on motivations, wants beliefs, and strategies that are in place as per pre-existing norms.


According to BonJour (2000, p. 2), epistemology is a branch of philosophy that involves the study of nature and the scope of knowledge. Its aim is to inform people about knowledge. The criterion it uses is that of discriminating good from bad knowledge, checking for validity, rationality and differentiating scientific concepts from pseudoscientific. Positivist epistemology takes the line that one can actually discover true happenings in an organization by categorization and taking of scientific data on people’s behavior and the systems that are in place (Winograd 1987, p.30). in organizational studies, it explains how we acquire organizational knowledge, what is considered to be organizational knowledge, and gives insight on how we understand that what we know is the reality. In epistemology-positivism, the truth is discovered through conceptualization or use of theories and testing of our logic against the reality found in the objective world.

Modernist, symbolic-interpretive, and post-modernist theorists

The application of ontology and epistemology has given insight into the choice of organization theory in which to apply. The goal of this theory is to find out the truthful information that governs organizations. These truths are accurate accounts of the organizational properties like the powers and laws of the organization and the events in which the management deals with when we act (Hatch, 1997, p.20). The use of these truths avoids any distraction by speculations and lies from other people not belonging to the organization. It is based on statistical methods that discover the correspondence between the hypothesis and empirical reality in the world. All the data dealt in are facts that can be confirmed (Schneider, 27). Modernist’s believe in a stable and inherent self that can be known objectively.

Symbolic-interpretive theory intends to arrive at context that is specific and relative statements of the logic organizational reality. This theory is used in interpretation of perceptions of organizational life and highlights the fluid, diverse and subjective aspects of organizational activity and decision making (Foucault 55). There is a constant debate on methodologies between modernists and the symbolic interpretive because of their differences in assumptions. Modernists view the subjectivity to undermine scientific rigor while interpretive say it’s a requisite for the study of meaning. This theory uses qualitative approaches to research through inductive process where a theory is developed from observation and interpretation. The major difference is the ontological assumption of objectivity and subjectivity. These differences in assumptions make the two kinds of theorists have different definitions of organizational concepts. The fact that they use different research methods only adds to the separation (Foucault 55)

Post-modern perspective also has a different take of the situation. It rejects the distinction between truth and untruth noting that truthfulness is a personal opinion guided by their complex social and organizational pressures. It rejects rationality of human reasoning and the search for ultimate meanings by people. This theory is constructed on reflexivity on questioning the assumptions that forms our interpretation and knowledge of organizations. It applies deconstruction in that it reads and re-reads texts using different contextual framework and audiences with the intention of uncovering multiple interpretations and meanings (Robbins & Barnwell 129).

This theory deconstructs the assumptions that underlie organizational forms and their practices, their management theory and ideologies and their implications of power within the organizations. The theorists flit between the possible philosophical positions when viewed from other perspective. They adamantly avoid taking stands, even temporary philosophical issues. This is because of the belief that taking sides will be beneficial to some kinds of knowledge over others which is contrary to post modern ethics. Postmodernists trace their ethical foundations to the French post structural philosophers, namely to Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Foucault argument makes all forms of knowledge important. Supporting other forms of knowledge is therefore significant but makes the non supported pieces to be ignored. Derrida observed the relation and thought about a present for of binary intelligence of one or zero. It leads only to right or wrong with no intermediates. Therefore the development together with usage of knowledge frequently power plays that should be avoided in order to protect the powerless. They commit themselves to uncover and challenge all kinds of power so as to expose the source of domination. This is through decrying of the more privileged and channeling of more effort to the marginalized ones (Robbins & Barnwell 129).


An organizational structure is the stable patterns of social behavior in an organization that provides routinised and institutionalized social behaviors that enable and constrain individual action and is the product of that action. The physical structure involves the following elements; the organizational geography, its layout in terms of accessibility, privacy and proximity and landscaping of the organization, its design and the décor.

The modernists are of the view that the organizational structure influences the organizational efficiencies and that organizations are seen to be stable and fixed entities. They aim at identifying universal goals that govern the organizations and to identify how the organizational structures are managed so as to improve efficiency in the organizations. They believe that physical structures can influence how information and communication flows and the coordination and the relationships between different members of the organization.

The symbolic interpretive approach view organizational structure as being in a fluid state and being continually reconstructed and authority roles are negotiated. According to Hatch and Cunliffe (2006, 127), “routines preserve and transfer organizational knowledge and capabilities so that work can be successfully accomplished and coordinated.” Organizational structure is formed when groups of people share ideas, values and goals in a coordinated capacity under conditions that allow them to learn and develop new practices together.

Post-modern approaches are of the position that physical structures are material expressions of embedded power relations. It also sees physical structures as being used by those in positions of power to maintain authority over others (Hatch & Cunliffe, 23). Finally, this approach intends to redesign the organizational space and its layout so as to increase efficiency. The physical structure of an organisation should be open-planned as opposed to fragmented & differentiated space.


An organization is a social arrangement that aims at attaining certain goals agreed upon by the members. It has set procedures to regulate its performance and coverage extent that distinguishes it from the environment. Many theories have been proposed to explain organizations. A theory is a coherent group of general prepositions that are used as general principles to offer an explanation to a class of phenomena. The major theories are modernism, symbolic and post modern approaches. It is of significance to comprehend the differences in the applications of the perspectives since they are not only crucial to creation of theories but also to practice it is organization. If a person takes the objectivist stance then organizations are formal structures with an internal order, natural laws governing its operation, and obligations that must be fulfilled out in a pre determined manner. By organizational members, one can manage their organization and uniquely act toward achieving our dreams. Similarly, if one takes the subjectivist stance, then organizations appear have no objective structure, but are continually constructed and maintained by people on the inside. Trying to make sense of what is going on, one is able to manage their organization differently and amicable than to assume the postmodern perspective. Maintain skepticism put forward by the idea that knowledge is truly anything more than just a pure ploy to gain power. It is important to know the underlying assumptions made when applying your theories since each set of ontological and epistemological assumptions have exercises. At different influence along the way, you design and manage your organization safely.


Allison, G., 1971. The essence of decision: Explaining the Cuban missile crisis. New York: Longman.

American Heritage Dictionary 2009. Ontology. Web.

BonJour, L. 2002. Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Brown, B, &. Morgan, G.1979. Sociological paradigms and organizational analysis. London: Heinemann.

Clegg, S., Kornberger, M. & Pitsis. 2005. Managing Organizations: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. London: Sage

Daft, R.L. 2007. Understanding the Theory and Design of Organizations. Mason: Thomson South-western.

Hassard, J, & Pym, D., 1990, The theory and philosophy of organizations: Critical issues and new perspectives. London: Routledge

Hatch, M. J, & Cunliffe, A. L., 2006, Organization Theory, 2nd edition, Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Foucault, M., 1977, Power/knowledge (ed. Colin Gordon). New York: Pantheon.

Goodrich, J. 2000. Strategic Planning at the Multnomah County Library: The Past as Prologue. OLA Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 3.

Griswold, C. 2001. Platonic Writings/ Platonic Readings. Penn State Press.

Hatch, M. J., 1997, Organization Theory: Modern Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.

Miller, G. 1956. The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, Vol. 101, No. 2, pp. 343-352.

Mintzberg, H., 1983, Structure in Fives – Designing Effective Organizations, New York: Prentice Hall Inc.

Mylopoulos, J., 1994, From E-R to “A-R” – Modeling strategic actor

Relationships for business process reengineering, 13-th Int. Conf. on the Entity-relationship Approach, Manchester, UK: Routledge.

Robbins, J, & Barnwell, G. 1989. A speech-act-based office modeling approach. ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.126-152.

Robbins, S. & Barnwell, N. 2006.Organisation Theory: Concepts and Cases. 5th edition. Austraria, Sydney: Pearson Education.

Scott, W. R., 1992, Organizations: Rational, natural, and open systems (3rd edition.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Schneider, A., 1993, Culture and enchantment. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Weber, M., 1987, Economy and Society. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California: Press.

Winograd, T., 1987, A language/action perspective on the design of cooperative work, Human Computer Interaction 3, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

This essay on Organizational Culture and Physical Structure was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Essay sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

801 certified writers online

Cite This paper
Select a referencing style:


IvyPanda. (2021, December 15). Organizational Culture and Physical Structure. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-culture-and-physical-structure/


IvyPanda. (2021, December 15). Organizational Culture and Physical Structure. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-culture-and-physical-structure/

Work Cited

"Organizational Culture and Physical Structure." IvyPanda, 15 Dec. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-culture-and-physical-structure/.

1. IvyPanda. "Organizational Culture and Physical Structure." December 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-culture-and-physical-structure/.


IvyPanda. "Organizational Culture and Physical Structure." December 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-culture-and-physical-structure/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Organizational Culture and Physical Structure." December 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/organizational-culture-and-physical-structure/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Organizational Culture and Physical Structure'. 15 December.

Powered by CiteTotal, essay referencing tool
More related papers