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Technology can be described as the advancement of skills, machinery, and equipment to enhance productivity in various sectors of the economy. Technological input refers to raw materials or information transformed into a more meaningful form. Technology can be used to improve all organizational departments. Its impact on production and manufacturing processes has profound effects on an economy because most machines are technologically operated, and their use involves technical knowledge and skills. The focus of this paper is to evaluate the impact of technology on organizational theories. The article will also establish the influence of organizational theories in several contexts. With effective skills and emerging opportunities, an organization or company can be able to succeed in the social, political, and economic sectors. Technology can enhance organizational efficiency by exploiting three mechanisms, which are the technical, internal, and external ones. The mechanisms enhance a technologically enabled environment. The technical approach employs technology to enhance efficiency and operational cost with a significant reduction of expenses. Joan Woodward’s theory explains that technologies are differentiated by operational difficulties.
According to her, the technical complexity affects the organizational model horizontally, vertically, or diagonally based on the structure of the organization. Charles Perror’s idea explains the prevailing disparities between regular and irregular results of resource variability and analyzability. James Thompson’s concept illustrates how the interdependence of roles influences the organizational hierarchy and technology. He engages the deeper aspects of technology and budgetary restructuring through a concept known as a specialism. Woodward, Perror, and Thompson employ three models to show the effect of technology on organizational design, which include technical complexity, task interdependence, and routine-complex tasks. All three models are essential in a successful contemporary organization. The organizational design is defined as the process of improving the growth of an organization by employing strategic measures of management. The staff of the organization evaluates the design to determine the strategies and possibilities of strengthening the organization and achieving its goals. It usually is formal as it brings together people, information, and technology within an organization.
Organizational designs are based on hierarchy and units dealing with similar responsibilities. The hierarchy outlines roles, missions, and chain of command in the organization. Authority can flow from upwards to downwards, assuming the vertical structure with other commands flowing across the organization, taking the horizontal model. The organizational design process begins with the establishment of a strategy. The strategy is made from precise and accurate ideas on the goals, mission, and vision of the organization. The strategy determines the objectives and the mission statement of the particular organization with an accurately administered strategic plan. An organizational structure is formed by the functions, operations, and positions of various members within the organization. The structure may be expressed visually by a chart, which shows multiple positions, roles, and responsibilities within an organization and their relationships. The chart defines the organization along departmental lines, and effective authority is structured for everyone to acknowledge.
Complexity theory by Joan Woodward
Technical complexity is equated to the nature of programs and control mechanisms in an organization. High technical challenges are usually experienced when management activities are programmed and predicted in advance. Low technical complexity depends on individual skill and not on machine power. The model differentiates technologies based on their technical complexity. Joan Woodward groups technology into three types, which are small, large, and continuous process models. She demonstrates that the difference in the size of structures in an organization can elevate complexity and advancement in technology. Joan is known for her famous contingency theory. The unit of production is composed of unified items in small portions. Mass or large scale production is based on large units and process production, which involves processing resources such as oil and refineries. Joan was born in 1961 and died in 1971but her theoretical contributions to knowledge are still subjects of scholarly studies in various fields of study. She argues in her theories that as one moves from unit to process production, there is an increase in managerial authority. She believes that an increase in the complexity of technology facilitates an increase in administrative and clerical personnel. For the first-line managers, the span of control increases as they move from unit to mass production. The span can also reduce the movement from mass to process production. In mass production, technology and design influence the output of a particular organization. Better design and efficient technology present an increase in production. Mass production enhances the nature of job designs with high specialization, low range, and market depth. Professor Joan argues that good organizational design is accomplished by high complexity, centralization, and formalization.
Woodward develops research which is employed in different fields in an organization. Technology is significantly advanced and can be improved by the use of robots, computerized tools, and machinery. Joan argues that technical complexity brings disparities in technologies. Complexity influences competition, which is then developed among various organizations, and each of them strives to be better, faster, and effective. A competitive organization creates standard products and services, and the benefit is enjoyed by the consumer who enjoys what is presented to him.
Routine and non-routine task model by Charles Perror
Charles Perror’s theories were focused on the structure of departments and their technologies. The theories were based on ideas outside the technical domain. Charles happened to challenge various organizations to think beyond the technical realm, with his concern being on task variability and analyzability. He displayed the need for each department, having a production process alongside a distinctive form of technology. He evoked units like human resource management, legal engineering, and finance in his examinations (Shettleworth, 2010).
Task variability and analyzability
Charles dealt with the challenge of problem analyzability and argued that the analysis of work problems involved the use of procedures and technical knowledge that was standardized. He argued that no analyzable problem would be solved by wisdom, intuition, or experience as opposed to other theories of management by Henry Fayol or Fredrick Taylor, which supported experience and intuition in management. Perror, in his research, concluded that various departments exploited different dimensions, and their differences were based on work outflow technology. Each department was expected to tackle a particular line of activities. Though these departments were limited, their roles were different and equally were the expected results. According to Perror, the process of organizational management and structure was dependent on workflow technology and the amount of work done. The technology applied determined the structure and managerial particulars in a given organization. Perror challenged managers to approach the task of departmental design to meet technological requirements. His theories were able to bring out the structural differences in various departments. Charles Perror’s theories proposed that the difference that occurred between routine and non-routine units of tasks was as a result of variations and analyses of tasks. He came up with four types of technologies to support his argument, which included craftwork, routine manufacturing, non-routine research, and engineering production (Jones, 2007). Technology, in this case, was employed in the three stages of production, which constituted value creation, input access, and output conversion. Input mechanisms used technical protocol and knowledge to improve the links between external stakeholders and society. They employed time management skills to improve efficiency. The output systems used technology in the distribution of resources to external stakeholders, which included quality assurance, sales, and marketing.
The systems theory by James Thompson
James Thompson is referred to as a system theorist due to his contribution to system technology. He insists on the need for effective input into the technical subsystem to earn an effective output (Jones, 2007). Effective outputs, according to him, are labor, raw materials, and markets. On the other hand, a probable output involves quality goods and services, profits, and waste minerals
James underscores the importance of departmental interdependence. In this case, each department is dependent on others, resources, and other requirements to make an accomplishment. Departments should not work without integrating others in the organizational hierarchy. This theory shows the importance of all departments in the organization. Little interdependence leads to minimal outcomes in interactions, needs, associations, consultation, and exchange of ideas and resources. The overall effect of little interdependence is minimal production output. With high interdependence, there is bound to be high exchange and interaction and, therefore, high productivity. Interdependency is grouped into three categories, and these include pooled reciprocal and sequential interdependencies. Pooled interdependency comprises of minimal interdependency among several units. In the pooled system, work never flows in units. Each unit contributes towards the organizational goals independently.
Pooled interdependency is employed in mediating technology, thus providing services, products, or links in the external market and environment. Sequential interdependence involves a case whereby one department output becomes another department’s input sequentially. The level of interdependence is higher than in the pooled system. Sequential systems are linked with long technologies. Horizontal mechanisms of integration are crucial in this system. Long linked technology is associated with big organizations that use sequential systems like assembly lines. For instance, manufacturers of heavy appliances, automobiles, food processing, and mechanical assemblies are associated with long linked technology (Hergenhahn, 2005). The long linked technology needs high coordination of the tasks to be effective. Reciprocal interdependence refers to the top interdependence level, which exists when the output of a single unit is used as input of another unit with the output of the second unit acting as input for the first single unit. This system occurs in structures with intensive technologies. Intensive technologies supply various products or services for a client’s demands. Due to its reciprocal nature, intensive technology requires high management needs. It is reciprocal when interdependent units work as a cluster in closely and well-coordinated groups. Thompson presents different ideas on structural priorities to justify the different interdependency levels. They include reduction of cost of coordination under the nationality norm, group system within an organization, integration of various groups in cases where reciprocal interdependence cannot fit into intragroup systems, grouping the units in which the organization is obliged to place interdependent units together in a localized and autonomous structure and coordination of the grouped the units homogenously to enable unit standardization.
The organizational model is comprised of activities like coordination, task allocation, and supervision aimed at a particular goal or achievement. Organizations are structured into different classes based on their objectives. The structures outline the method of operation and evaluation criterion of an organization. It can be formal or informal organization and may include the following types:
- The pre-bureaucratic structure, also known as an entrepreneurial structure which lacks standardization strategies and is found in smaller organizations dealing with little tasks.
- The bureaucratic structure that has some degree of standardization and is suited for complex and larger organizations.
- Post bureaucratic structure which constitutes efficient, cultural, and matrix styles of management.
- The functional structure that involves the performance of tasks by employees along with departmental specifications.
- Divisional structures also called product outfits that divide society into departments that engage in specific matters of the organization.
- Matrix structures that categorize workers according to the various roles that are played by them in an organization.
- Network structures that perform tasks that can be done cost-effectively and efficiently.
The concepts of technical complexity, task variability, analyzability, and independence used by Woodward, Perror, and Thompson employ an organizational structure with functional and network mechanisms running most of the organization. In the case of life insurance and solar technology companies, the organization has to be structured in a manner that befits its purpose (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). As for the type of organization displayed in a chart, the various roles played by different individuals are always outstanding, and one can identify them by observing the chart. In this case, formal and vertical communication becomes more pronounced, and the structure is mostly the network type due to the need for doing things efficiently and effectively. Most video game productions are small scale targeting a particular market. With different departments in the video industry, the organization can use the functional structure with various departments handling different tasks like video shooting, editing, and others. A drive through a coffee house happens to take the pre-bureaucratic structure based on its size. Standardization is mostly not an issue since it targets little markets, and it is mostly an activity that does not consume a lot of time.
Woodward, Charles, and Thompson have one goal in common, which is organizational change. Change is the ability to transform one form of structure or activity into another in an organization. Their theories suggest that an organization has to change in terms of technology by adopting effective designs and structures for the technological criterion involved.
The ability to embrace an effective design and structure places an organization in a better scope to adopt the various scientific and technological measures in the field of production (Given, 2008). Both small scale and large scale organizations are encouraged to improve their managerial capacity by embracing technology within their administrational structures. The ideas as propounded by the three theorists hence make a significant contribution to the need for technological integration in organizations.
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Glaser, B., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago, USA: Aldine Publishers.
Hergenhahn, B.R. (2005). An introduction to the history of psychology. Belmont, USA: Thomson Wadsworth.
Jones, G.R (2007). Organization theory, design and change 5th edition. New Jersey, USA: Pearson Education.
Shettleworth, S. J. (2010). Cognition, Evolution and Behavior (2nd Ed). New York, USA: Oxford University Press.