essay/assignment/paper代写-A Synthesis of the Research on Organization Design


Structure in 5’s: A Synthesis of the Research on Organization Design

Author(s): Henry Mintzberg

Source: Management Science, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Mar., 1980), pp. 322-

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Vol. 26, No. 3, March 1980
Printed in U.S.A.
The elements of organizational structuring-which show a curious tendency to appear in
five's-suggest a typology of five basic configurations: Simple Structure, Machine Bureau-
cracy, Professional Bureaucracy, Divisionalized Form, and Adhocracy.
The elements include (1) five basic parts of the organization-the operating core, strategic
apex, middle line, technostructure, and support staff; (2) five basic mechanisms of coor-
dination-mutual adjustment, direct supervision, and the standardization of work processes,
outputs, and skills; (3) the design parameters-job specialization, behavior formalization,
training and indoctrination, unit grouping, unit size, action planning and performance control
systems, liaison devices (such as integrating managers, teams, task forces, and matrix
structure), vertical decentralization (delegation to line managers), and horizontal decentraliza-
tion (power sharing by nonmanagers); and (4) the contingency factors-age and size,
technical system, environment, and power.
Each of the five configurations relies on one of the five coordinating mechanism and tends
to favor one of the five parts. In Simple Structure, the key part is the strategic apex, which
coordinates by direct supervision; the structure is minimally elaborated and highly centra-
lized; it is associated with simple, dynamic environments and strong leaders, and tends to be
found in smaller, younger organizations or those facing severe crises. The Machine Bureau-
cracy coordinates primarily by the imposition of work standards from the technostructure;
jobs are- highly specialized and formalized, units functional and very large (at the operating
level), power centralized vertically at the strategic apex with limited horizontal decentraliza-
tion to the technostructure; this structure tends to be found in simple, stable environments,
and is often associated with older, larger organizations, sometimes externally controlled, and
mass production technical systems. The Professional Bureaucracy relies on the standardiza-
tion of skills in its operating core for coordination; jobs are highly specialized but minimally
formalized, training is extensive and grouping is on a concurrent functional and market basis,
with large sized operating units, and decentralization is extensive in both the vertical and
horizontal dimensions; this structure is typically found in complex but stable environments,
with technical systems that are simple and non-regulating. In the Divisionalized Form, a good
deal of power is delegated to market-based units in the middle line (limited vertical
decentralization), whose efforts are coordinated by the standardization of outputs, through
the extensive use of performance control systems; such structures are typically found in very
large, mature organizations, above all operating in diversified markets. Adhocracy coordi-
nates primarily by mutual adjustment among all of its parts, calling especially for the
collaboration of its support staff; jobs are specialized, involving extensive training but little
formalization, units are small and combine functional and market bases in matrix structures,
liaison devices are used extensively, and the structure is decentralized selectively in both the
vertical and horizontal dimensions; these structures are found in complex, dynamic environ-
ments, and are often associated with highly sophisticated and automated technical systems.
In conclusion, it is claimed that the effective Organization will favor some sort of
configuration-some type of a logically consistent clustering of its elements-as it searches
for harmony in its internal processes and consonance with its environment. But some
organizations will inevitably be driven to hybrid structures as they react to contradictory
pressures or while they effect a transition from one configuration to another, and here too it is
believed that the typology of five can serve as a diagnostic tool in organizational design.

*Accepted by Arie Y. Lewin; received May 16, 1979. This paper has been with the author 3 months for 1 revision. tMcGill University. 322 0025-1909/80/2603/0322$01. Copyright ?) 1980, The Institute of Management Sciences

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  1. Introduction Five is no ordinary digit. "It is the sign of union, the nuptial number according to the Pythagoreans; also the number of the center, of harmony and of equilibrium." The Dictionnaire des Symboles goes on to tell us that five is the "symbol of man…
likewise of the universe .., the symbol of divine will that seeks only order and
perfection." To the ancient Chinese, five was the essence of the universal laws, there
being "five colors, five flavors, five tones, five metals, five viscera, five planets, five
orients, five regions of space, of course five senses," not to mention "the five colors of
the rainbow."1I
In an attempt to make some sense out of the large and varied research literature on
organizational structuring, that number five kept coming up. First it seemed most
logical to isolate five basic parts of the organization, second to distinguish five basic
mechanisms of coordination in the organization, and third to identify five fundamental
types of decentralization. When the literature pointed strongly to five basic ‘
'configurations" of structure-five pure or "ideal" types-and when a logical corre-
spondence between all of these quintets was found, the historic harmony of the "fives"
seemed to be confirmed.
This paper begins with a description of the elements found in the literature which
appear to be most important in understanding the structuring of organizations. The
tendency in the literature has been to deal with these elements analytically rather than
in terms of synthesis, typically to study the relationships between pairs of them in
cross-sectional studies. The premise that underlies this paper is that organizational
structuring can better be understood through the combination of groups of elements
into ideal or pure types, which we call configurations. This paper presents a typology of
five basic configurations suggested in the research on organizational structuring.
  1. The Elements of Structure
To understand structure, it seems useful to delineate first the basic parts of
organizations and the basic mechanisms organizations use to coordinate their work. In
the context of these, it is then appropriate to turn to the means organizations have at
their command to design structures-what we call the design parameters. And these
can then be analyzed in terms of the contingency factors that influence their choice.
The Basic Parts of the Organization
As shown in Figure 1, the organization can be described in terms of five basic parts:
* The operating core includes all those employees who themselves produce the basic
products and services of the organization, or directly support their production.
* The strategic apex consists of the top general managers of the organization, and
their personal staff.
* The middle line comprises those managers who sit in a direct line of formal
authority between the people of the strategic apex and of the operating core.
* The technostructure consists of those analysts, out of the formal "line" structure,
who apply analytic techniques to the design and maintenance of the structure and to
the adaptation of the organization to its environment (e.g., accountants, work schedul-
ers, long-range planners).

‘ Quotes from Dictionnaire des Symboles, sous la direction de Jean Chevalier avec la collaboration de Alain Gheerbrant (Editions Robert Laffont, 1969), p. 208; author’s translation from the French.

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* The support staff includes those groups that provide indirect support to the rest of
the organization (e.g., in the typical manufacturing firm, legal counsel, public relations,
payroll, cafeteria).
Sttegic Apex
Middle Support
Operating Core
FIGURE 1. The Five Basic Parts of the Organization.
Two points should be noted about this view of the organization. First, a distinction
is maintained between "line" and "staff". This is not meant to ignore the criticisms of
this classical notion, but simply to allow for the validity of the distinction in certain

kinds of structures. And second, two kinds of staff are in fact distinguished, only one of which-the techno-structure-"advises" in the usual sense identified with staff. The support staff may advise, but its prime role is to provide special services to the

organization. This part is seldom distinguished in the literature, despite the fact that a

glance at the "organigram" (organizational chart) of most large organizations shows it

to be an important component in sheer numbers alone.
The Coordinating Mechanisms
Organizational structuring, of course, focuses on the division of labor of an organi-
zational mission into a number of distinct tasks, and then the coordination of all of
these tasks to accomplish that mission in a unified way. The literature suggests that
this coordination can be effected in at least five basic ways:
* In direct supervision, one individual (typically a manager) gives specific orders to
others and thereby coordinates their work.
* In the standardization of work processes, the work is coordinated by the imposition
(typically by analysts of the technostructure) of standards to guide the doing of the
work itself-work orders, rules and regulations, etc.
* In the standardization of outputs, the work is coordinated by the imposition
(again, often by the analysts of the technostructure) of standard performance measures
or specifications concerning the outputs of the work.
* In the standardization of skills, the work is coordinated by the internalization by
individuals of standard skills and knowledge, usually before they begin to do the work.
* And in mutual adjustment, individuals coordinate their owil work, by communi-
cating informally with each other.
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The Design Parameters The literature on organizational structuring focuses on a number of mechanisms organizations are able to use to design their structures-in effect, the levers they can turn to effect the division of labor and coordination. Among the most commonly researched are the nine discussed below.

  • Job specialization, the chief parameter for determining the division of labor, concerns the number of tasks and the breadth of each in a given position (horizontal job specialization) and the incumbent’s control over these tasks (vertical job specializa- tion). Highly specialized jobs in both horizontal and vertical senses usually fall into the category called unskilled, those specialized horizontally but "enlarged" vertically are usually referred to as professional.
  • Behavior formalization is the design parameter by which work processes are standardized, through rules, procedures, policy manuals, job descriptions, work in- structions, and so on. Hickson [29] has pointed out that this one parameter of organizational design has dominated the writings on management throughout this century. It is typically the unskilled jobs that are the most highly formalized. Structures
that rely on standardization for coordination (whether of work process or otherwise)
are generally referred to as bureaucratic; those that rely on direct supervision or mutual
adjustment, as organic.
* Training and indoctrination is the design parameter by which skills and knowledge
are standardized, through extensive educational programs, usually outside the organi-
zation and before the individual begins his job (particularly in the case of training).
This is a key design parameter in all work that is professional.
Two design parameters are associated with the design of the superstructure:
* Unit grouping, the design parameter by which direct supervision is most impor-
tantly effected (and one used also to influence mutual adjustment), deals with the
bases by which positions are clustered into units and units into ever more comprehen-
sive units, until all are clustered together under the strategic apex. The various possible
bases for grouping-by skill, knowledge, work process, business function, product,
service client, place-can be consolidated into two basic ones: by function, that is, by
the means the organization uses to produce its products and services, and by market,
that is, by ends, by the characteristics of the ultimate markets the organization serves.
* Unit size (usually called span of control) deals with the number of positions, or
subunits, that are grouped into a single unit. The literature suggests that the greater the
reliance on standardization for coordination (whether by work process, output, or
skill), the larger the size of the unit, simply because there is less need for direct
supervision, so more positions or units can be grouped under a single manager; it also
suggests that a reliance on mutual adjustment keeps unit size small, because informal
communication requires a small work group (Ouchi and Dowling [42]; Filley et al.,
[20, pp. 417-418]).
Two design parameters are associated with the design of lateral linkages to flesh out
the superstructure:
* Planning and control systems constitute the design parameter by which outputs are
standardized in the organization. These systems may be considered to be two types.
Action planning focuses on the predetermination of the outputs of specific decisions or
actions, for example, that holes be drilled with two centimeter diameters or that new
products be introduced in September. Performance control focusses on the after-the-
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fact measurement of performance of all the decisions or actions of a given position or unit over a given period of time, for example, of the sales growth of a division in the first quarter of the year.

  • The liaison devices are the means by which the organization encourages mutual adjustment across units. As Galbraith [23] has shown, these can be placed along a rough continuum of increasing elaboration and formality, from liaison positions and then task forces and standing committees, which establish informational connections across units, through integrating managers who are given some (limited) measure of formal authority over the decisions of the units they connect, to fully developed matrix structures which sacrifice the classical principle of unity of command in favor of the joint responsibility of two or more managers or units over the making of certain decisions. Finally, there are the parameters associated with the design of the decision making system, generally referred to as ones of decentralization (which we define as the extent
to which power over decision making in the organization is dispersed among its
members). We find it convenient to divide these into two groups:
* Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which formal decision making
power is "delegated" down to the chain of line authority.
* Horizontal decentralization refers to the extent to which power flows informally
outside this chain of line authority (that is, to analysts, support staffers, and operators
in the operating core).2 Combining these two design parameters with two other types
Type A: Type B: Type C;
Vertical and Horizontal Limited Horizontal Limited Vertical Centralization Decentralization Decentralization
(Selective) (Parallel)
Type D: Type E:
Selective Vertical and Vertical and Horizontal
Horizontal Decent ization Decentralization
*The inflated size of the shaded parts indicates their special power in decision making, not their size.
FIGURE 2. The Five Types of Decentralization.
2A third use of the term decentralization relates to the physical dispersal of services. Since this has nothing
to do with the dispersal of decision making power per se, it is not considered here to be a type of
decentralization. The term "concentration" is used instead, and is associated with unit grouping (i.e., the
determination of where the support units are grouped).
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of decentralization-selective, in which power is dispersed to different places for
different decision processes, and parallel, in which power over various decisions is
dispersed to the same place-yields five different kinds of decentralization, shown
symbolically on Figure 2. In vertical and horizontal centralization, formal and informal
power remains primarily at the strategic apex. In limited horizontal decentralization,
informal power flows selectively to the analysts of the technostructure who play major
roles in standardizing everyone else's work, while formal power remains at the strategic
apex. In limited vertical decentralization, much formal power is delegated in parallel to.
the managers of market-based line units, usually called "divisions". (As shown in
Figure 2, some horizontal decentralization takes place here as well, to the analysts who
design the performance control systems used to monitor the results of these divisions.)
In horizontal and vertical decentralization, power flows, largely in parallel, all the way
down the line of authority and then out at the bottom to the operators of the operating
core. And in selective decentralization (horizontal and vertical), decision making power
is diffused widely in the organization, to "work constellations" at various levels and
containing various mixtures of line managers and staff and operating specialists.
The Contingency Factors
The thrust of research on organizational structuring in the last twenty years has been
toward assessing the effects of various so-called contingency factors on these design
parameters. This research has been based on what might be called the congruence

hypothesis, that effective structuring requires a close fit between contingency factor and design parameter, more specifically, that structure must reflect situation. Four sets of contingency factors have received the most attention.

  • Age and Size have both been shown in the research to have important effects on
structure. In particular, the older and/or the larger an organization, the more forma-
lized its behavior (Inkson et al. [34]; Samuel and Mannheim [54]; Pugh et al. [48]; Udy
[64]). Moreover it has been found that the larger the organization, the larger the size of
its average unit (Dale [14]; Blau and Schoenherr [2]) and the more elaborate its
structure, that is, the more specialized its tasks, the more differentiated its units, and
the more developed its administrative component of middle line and technostructure
(Blau et al. [3]; Reimann [51]; Pugh et al. [48]). Finally, Stinchcombe [60] has shown
that the structure of an organization often reflects the age of founding of its industry.
* Technical System has also been found to affect certain design parameters signifi-
cantly. For one thing, the more regulating the technical system-in other words, the
more it controls the work of the operators-the more formalized is their work and the
more bureaucratic is the structure of the operating core (Woodward [67]; Pugh et al.
[48]; Hickson et al. [30]; Inkson et al. [34]; Child and Mansfield [11]). And the more

sophisticated the technical system-that is, the more difficult it is to understand-the more elaborate the administrative structure, specifically, the larger and more profes- sional the support staff, the greater the selective decentralization (of technical decisions to that staff), and the greater the use of liaison devices (to coordinate the work of that staff) (Woodward [67]; Khandwalla [37]; Udy [63]; Hunt [33]; Hickson et al. [30]). Finally Woodward [67] has shown how the automation of the work of the operating

core tends to transform a bureaucratic administrative structure into an organic one.
* Environment is another major contingency factor discussed in the literature.
Dynamic environments have been identified with organic structures (Duncan [17];
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Burns and Stalker [5]; Burns [4]; Harvey [27]; Lawrence and Lorsch [41]), and complex environments with decentralized ones (Hage and Aiken [25]; Pennings [43]3). However, laboratory evidence suggests that hostile environments might lead organiza- tions to centralize their structures temporarily (Hamblin [26]). And disparaties in the environment appear to encourage selective decentralization to differentiated work

constellations (Hlavacek and Thompson [311; Khandwalla [36]; Lawrence and Lorsch

[41]). Finally, there is a good deal of evidence that diversification of the organization’s markets encourage the use of market bases for grouping at high levels, assuming favorable economies of scale (Chandler [6]; Wrigley [68]; Rumelt [53]; Channon [8]; Dyas and Thanheiser [18]).

  • Power factors have also been shown to have selective effects on structure. Most importantly, external control of organizations appears to increase formalization and centralization (Samuel and Mannheim [54]; Heydebrand [28]; Holdaway et al. [32]; Pugh et al. [50]; Reimann [51]; Pondy [47]). The need for power of the various members can influence the distribution of decision making authority, especially in the case of a chief executive whose strong need for power tends to increase centralization (Dill [16]). And fashion has been shown to have an influence on structure, sometimes driving organizations to favor inappropriate though fashionable structures (Woodward [67]; Lawrence and Lorsch [41]; Rumelt [53]; Franko [22]; Child and Keiser [10]; Azuni and McMillan [1]).
  1. The Configurations of Structure The congruence hypothesis related organizational effectiveness to the fit between a given design parameter and a given contingency factor. But a second hypothesis is also possible-what can be called the configuration hypothesis-that effective structuring
requires an internal consistency among the design parameters. In fact, Khandwalla
[35] supports this in his research with the finding that while no single structural
variable correlated significantly with performance, when he split his sample of firms
into high and low performers, eleven relationships between various structural variables

held only for the high performers, eight for both groups, and only two for the low

performers alone.
In fact, we can combine our two hypotheses to propose a third, combined one, that
we can call the extended configuration hypothesis: effective structuring requires a
consistency among the design parameters and the contingency factors. In other words,

we can search for natural clusters or configurations of the design parameters together with the contingency factors. Implicit in this hypothesis is the notion that the two sets

of factors merge into interactive systems, that the design parameters "cause" the
so-called contingency factors just as much as the contingency factors influence the
choice of design parameters. An organization may become more bureaucratic as it

grows, but bureaucracies also have a habit of trying to grow larger; dynamic environ-

ments may call for organic structures, but organizations with organic structures also
seek out dynamic environments, where they can outmaneuver the bureaucracies. Our

3Pennings found few correlations between the environmental variables and the design parameters he measured in his study of stock brokerage offices. One important exception was complexity, which showed some significant correlations with measures that amount to decentralization. But because Pennings made no conceptual distinction between his environmental variables-he viewed them all as "characterized by uncertainty" (p. 394)-instead of concluding support for this hypothesis, he instead rejected the congruency assumption altogether.

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sets of elements provide us with enough detail to begin to speculate about what some of those configurations might be. Let us return to that number five. It must surely be more than coincidental that we have five coordinating mechanisms, five parts of the organization, five kinds of decentralization. In fact, in searching for ways to combine our various elements into configurations, five of these too emerged as most obvious. And this naturally led to a consideration of the correspondences among all these quintets. In fact, these proved to be obvious ones. It turned out that in each configuration a different coordinating mechanism dominated, a different part of the organization was key, and a different one of the five types of decentralization was used.4 This can be explained by considering the organization as being pulled in five different directions, by each of its parts. Most organizations experience all five of these pulls; however, to the extent that conditions favor one over the others, the organization is drawn to structure itself as one of the configurations.

  • The strategic apex exerts a pull for centralization, by which it can retain control over decision making. This it achieves when direct supervision is relied upon for coordination. To the extent that conditions favor this pull, the configuration called Simple Structure emerges.
  • The technostructure exerts its pull for standardization-notably for that of work processes, the tightest form-because the design of the standards is its raison d’etre. This amounts to a pull for limited horizontal decentralization. To the extent that conditions favor this pull, the organization structures itself as a Machine Bureaucracy.
  • In contrast, the members of the operating core seek to minimize the influence of
the administrators-managers as well as analysts-over their work. That is, they
promote horizontal and vertical decentralization. When they succeed, they work
relatively autonomously, achieving whatever coordination is necessary through the
standardization of skills. Thus, the operators exert a pull for professionalism, that is,
for a reliance on outside training that enhances their skills. To the extent that
conditions favor this pull, the organization structures itself as a Professional Bureau-
* The managers of the middle line also seek autonomy but must achieve it in a
very different way-by drawing power down from the strategic apex and, if necessary,
up from the operating core, to concentrate it in their own units. In effect, they favor
limited vertical decentralization. As a result, they exert a pull to Balkanize the
structure, to split it into market-based units which can control their own decisions,
coordination being restricted to the standardization of their outputs. To the extent that
conditions favor this pull, the Divisionalized Form results.
* Finally, the support staff gains the most influence in the organization not when it
is autonomous but when its collaboration is called for in decision making, owing to its
expertise. This happens when the organization is structured into work constellations to
which power is decentralized selectively and which are free to coordinate within and
between themselves by mutual adjustment. To the extent that conditions favor this pull
to collaborate, the organization adopts the Adhocracy configuration.
4At the risk of stretching my credibility, I would like to point out that this neat correspondence was not
fabricated. Only after deciding on the five structural configurations was I struck by the correspondence with
the five coordinating mechanisms and the five organizational parts. Slight modification in the typology of
five kinds of decentralization (which rendered it more logical) was, however, suggested by the five
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These five configurations consititute a typology of "ideal" or "pure" types. The

central purpose of this article is to present this typology, and in so doing to make the

case that it brings together the various elements of structuring discussed in the
Elements of the Five Structural Configurations
Machine Professional Divisionalized
Simple Structure Bureaucracy Bureaucracy Form Adhocracy
Key coordinating Standardization Standardization Standardization
mechanism: Direct Supervision of work of skills of outputs Mutual Adjustment
Design parameters:
of jobs:
-horizontal low high high some (between HQ high
-vertical high high low some and divisions) low
Training low low high some (for division high
Indoctrination low low high (retraining) some managers) varies
Formalization of low high low high (within low
behavior divisions)
organic organic bureaucratic bureaucratic bureaucratic organic
Grouping usually functional usually functional functional and market functional and
market market
Unit Size large large (at bottom, large (at bottom, large (between small
narrow elsewhere) narrow elsewhere) HQ and divisions) (throughout)
Planning and little action planning little perf. control limited action pl.
control systems (esp. in Adm. Ad.)
Liaison devices few few some in few many throughout
Decentralization centralization limited horizontal horizontal and limited vertical selective
decentralization vertical decentral- decentralization decentralization
Contingency factors:
Age (typically) young old varies old young (Op. Ad.)
Size (typically) small large varies very large varies
Technical system
-regulation low high low high low
-complexity low low low low low/high
-automated no no no no no/often
-complexity low low high low high
-dynamism high low low low high
(sometimes hostile) (diversified (sometimes
markets) disparate)
-focus strategic apex technostructure, professional middle line experts
often external operators
-fashionable no no yes yes especially
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literature and also encompasses many of the major findings of the research.5 As such,
it is hoped that the typology will be viewed as a framework useful for comprehending
and analyzing the behavior of organizations. Table 1 shows how the various elements
we have been discussing are incorporated into the typology of the five configurations.
The remainder of this article is devoted to a description of the five configurations.
The Simple Structure
As shown in Figure 3, the Simple Structure is characterized, above all, by what it is
not-elaborated. Typically it has little or no technostructure, few support staffers, a
loose division of labor, minimal differentiation among its units, and a small middle
line hierarchy. Little of its behavior is formalized, and it makes minimal use of
planning, training, or the liaison devices. It is, above all, organic. Its coordination is
effected largely by direct supervision. Specifically, power over all important decisions
tends to be centralized in the hands of the chief executive officer. Thus, the strategic
apex emerges as the key part of the structure; indeed, the structure often consists of
little more than a one-person strategic apex and an organic operating core. Grouping
into units if it exists at all-more often than not is on a loose functional basis.
Likewise, communication flows informally in this structure, most of it between the
chief executive and everyone else. Likewise, decision making is informal, with the
centralization of power allowing for rapid response.
Above all, the environment of the Simple Structure tends to be at one and the same
time simple and dynamic. A simple environment can be comprehended by a single
individual, and so allows decision making to be controlled by that individual. And a
dynamic environment means organic structure: because the future state of the environ-
ment cannot be predicted, the organization cannot effect coordination by standardiza-
tion. Another condition common to Simple Structure is a technical system that is
neither sophisticated nor regulating. A sophisticated one would require an elaborate
support structure, to which power over technical decisions would have to be delegated,
while a regulating one would call for bureaucratization of the operating core. Young
FIGURE 3. The Simple Structure.

5This typology is also consistent with a number of those presented in the literature. For example, Simple Structure followed by Machine Bureaucracy followed by Divisionalized Form corresponds to various "stages of growth" theories (Starbuck [49]; Filley and House [20]; Chandler [6]; Scott [55]; Whyte [66]), while Perrow’s [44] four basic types of organizations correspond to our Simple Structure in a simple, dynamic environment, Machine Bureaucracy in a simple, stable one, Professional Bureaucracy in a complex, stable environment, and Adhocracy in a complex, dynamic one. Segal [56] and Van de Ven [65] each present typologies of three structures that correspond to three of ours, as do two of those of Lawrence and Lorsch [41] and Pugh et al. [49].

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organizations and small organizations also tend to use the Simple Structure, because they have not yet had the time, or yet reached the scale of operations, required for bureaucratization. Finally extreme hostility in their environments force most organiza- tions to use the Simple Structure, no matter how they are normally organized. To deal with crises, organizations tend to centralize at the top temporarily, and to suspend their standard operating procedures. The classic case of the Simple Structure is,, of course, the entrepreneurial firm. The firm is aggressive and often innovative, continually searching for risky environments where the bureaucracies hesitate to operate. But it is also careful to remain in a market niche that its entrepreneur can fully comprehend. Entrepreneurial firms are usually

small, so that they can remain organic and their entrepreneurs can retain tight control.
Also they are often young, in part because the attrition rate among entrepreneurial
firms is so high, and in part because those that survive tend to make the transition to
bureaucracy as they age. Inside the structure, all revolves around the entrepreneur. Its
goals are his goals, its strategy his vision of its place in the world. Most entrepreneurs
loathe bureaucratic procedures as impositions on their flexibility. Their unpredictable
maneuvering keeps their structures lean, flexible, organic.
Khandwalla [38] found this structural form in his research on Canadian companies.
Pugh et al. [49] also allude to this form in what they call "implicity structured
organizations", while Woodward [67] describes such a structure among the smaller
unit production and single purpose process firms.
The Machine Bureaucracy
A second clear configuration of the design parameters has held up consistently in
the research: highly specialized, routine operating tasks, very formalized procedures
and large-sized units in the operating core, reliance on the functional basis for
grouping tasks throughout the structure, little use made of training and of the liaison
devices, relatively centralized power for decision making with some use of action
planning systems, and an elaborate administrative structure with a sharp distinction
between line and staff. This is the structure Woodward [67] found in the mass

production firms, Burns and Stalker [5] in the textile industry, Crozier [13] in the

tobacco monopoly, Lawrence and Lorsch [41] in the container firm; it is the structure
the Aston group (Pugh et al., [49]) referred to as "workflow bureaucracy".
Despite its sharp distinction between line and staff, because the machine bureau-
cracy depends above all on standardization of work processes for coordination, the
technostructure-which houses the many analysts who do the standardizing-emerges
as the key part of the structure. Consequently, these analysts develop some informal
power, with the result that the organization can be described as having limited

horizontal decentralization. The analysts gain their power largely at the expense of the operators, whose work they formalize to a high degree, and of the first-line managers,

who would otherwise supervise the operators directly. But the emphasis on standard-
ization extends well above the operating core, and with it follows the analysts’
influence. Rules and regulations-an obsession with control-permeate the entire
structure; formal communication is favored at all levels; decision making tends to
follow the formal chain of authority. Only at the strategic apex are the different
functional responsibilities brought together; therefore, only at that level can the major
decisions be made, hence the centralization of the structure in the vertical dimension.
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The Machine Bureaucracy is typically associated with environments that are both simple and stable. The work of complex environments cannot be rationalized into simple operating tasks, while that of dynamic environments cannot be predicted, made repetitive, and so standardized. Thus the Machine Bureaucracy responds to a simple, stable environment, and in turn seeks to insure that its environment remains both simple and stable. In fact, this helps to explain the large size of the support staff in the Machine Bureaucracy, as shown in Figure 4. To ensure stability, the Machine Bureaucracy prefers to make rather than buy-to supply own support services wher- ever possible so that it can closely control them. In addition, the Machine Bureaucracy is typically found in the mature organization, large enough to have the scale of operations that allows for repetititon and standardization, and old enough to have been able to settle on the standards it wishes to use. Machine Bureaucracies also tend

to be identified with regulating technical systems, since these routinize work and so

enable that work to be standardized. But it is not typically found with sophisticated or automated technical systems because, as noted earlier, one disperses power to the support staff and the other calls for organic structure in administration, thereby

driving the organization to a different configuration. Finally, the Machine Bureau-

cracy is often associated with external control. As noted earlier, the greater the external control of an organization, the more its structure tends to be centralized and

formalized, the two prime design parameters of the Machine Bureaucracy.

Typical examples of organizations drawn to the Machine Bureaucracy configuration are mass production firms, service firms with simple, repetitive work such as insurance and telephone companies, government agencies with similar work such as post offices

and tax collection departments, and organizations that have special needs for safety,

such as airlines and fire departments.

FIGURE 4. The Machine Bureaucracy.
The Professional Bureaucracy
Organizations can be bureaucratic without being centralized, that is their behavior
can be standardized by a coordinating mechanism that allows for decentralization.
That coordinating mechanism is the standardization of skills, a reliance on which gives
rise to the configuration called Professional Bureaucracy, found typically in school
systems, social work agencies, accounting firms, and craft manufacturing firms. The
organization hires highly trained specialists called professionals-in its operating
core, and then gives them considerable autonomy in their work. In other words, they
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work relatively freely not only of the administrative hierarchy but also of their own colleagues. Much of the necessary coordination is achieved by design by the stan- dard skills that predetermine behavior. And this autonomy in the operating core means that the operating units are typically very large, as shown in Figure 5, and that the structure is decentralized in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions. In other words, much of the formal and informal power of the Professional Bureaucracy rests in its operating core, clearly its key part. Not only do the professionals control their

own work, but they also tend to maintain collective control of the administrative
apparatus of the organization. Managers of the middle line, in order to have power in

the Professional Bureaucracy, must be professionals themselves, and must maintain the

support of the professional operators. Moreover, they typically share the administra-

tive tasks with the operating professionals. At the administrative level, however, in contrast with the operating level, tasks require a good deal of mutual adjustment, achieved in large part through standing committees, task forces, and other liaison devices.

The technostructure is minimal in this configuration, because the complex work of
the operating professionals cannot easily be formalized, or its outputs standardized by
action planning and performance control systems. The support staff is, however, highly
elaborated, as shown in Figure 5, but largely to carry out the simpler, more routine

work and to back-up the high-priced professionals in general. As a result, the support staff tend to work in a machine bureaucratic pocket off to one side of the Professional Bureaucracy. For the support staff of these organizations, there is no democracy, only the oligarchy of the professionals. Finally, a curious feature of this configuration is

that it uses the functional and market bases for grouping concurrently in its operating
core. That is, clients are categorized and served in terms of functional specialties-
chemistry students by the chemistry department in the university, cardiac patients by

the cardiac department in the hospital. The Professional Bureaucracy typically appears in conjunction with an environment that is both complex and stable. Complexity demands the use of skills and knowledge

that can be learned only in extensive training programs, while stability ensures that
these skills settle down to become the standard operating procedures of the organiza-

tion. Age and size are not important factors in this configuration: the organization tends to use the same standard skills no matter how small or young it is because its professionals bring these skills with them when they first join the organization. So unlike the Machine Bureaucracy, which must design its own standards, in the Profes-

FIGURE 5. The Professional Bureaucracy.
61t is interesting to note that in Simon's [57, p. 30] criticism in Administrative Behavior of the ambiguities
in the classical distinction between grouping by process and by purpose, all of his examples are drawn from
professional work.
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sional Bureaucracy no time is lost and no scale of operations is required to establish
standards. Technical system is of importance in this configuration only for what it is
not neither regulating, or sophisticated, nor automated. Any one of these characteris-
tics would destroy individual operator autonomy in favor of administrative or peer
group influence, and so drive the organization to a different configuration. Finally,
fashion is a factor, simply because it has proven to the advantage of all kinds of
operator groups to have their work defined as professional; this enables them to
demand influence and autonomy in the organization. For this reason, Professional
Bureaucracy is a highly fashionable structure today.
The Divisionalized Form
The Divisionalized Form is not so much a complete structure as the superimposition
of one structure on others. This structure can be described as a market-based one, with
a central headquarters overseeing a set of divisions, each charged with serving its own
markets. In this way there need be little interdependence between the divisions
(beyond that Thompson [62] refers to as the "pooled" type), and little in the way of
close coordination. Each division is thus given a good deal of autonomy. The result is
the limited, parallel form of vertical decentralization,7 with the middle line emerging as
the key part of the organization. Moreover, without the need for close coordination, a
large number of divisions can report up to the one central headquarters. The main
concern of that headquarters then becomes to find a mechanism to coordinate the
goals of the divisions with its own, without sacrificing divisional autonomy. And that it
does by standardizing the outputs of the divisions specifically, by relying on perfor-
mance control systems to impose performance standards on the divisions and then
monitor their results. Hence Figure 6 shows a small headquarters technostructure,
which is charged with designing and operating the performance control system. Also
shown is a small headquarters support staff. Included here are those units that serve all
of the divisions (e.g., legal counsel), with other support units dispersed to the divisions
serve their particular needs (e.g., industrial relations).
Finally there arises the question of what structure is found in the divisions them-
selves. Although in principle the Divisionalized Form is supposed to work with any
kind of structure in the divisions, in fact there is reason to believe, as illustrated in
Figure 7, that the divisions are driven to use the Machine Bureaucracy. The Division-
alized Form requires the establishment for each division of clearly defined perfor-
FIGURE 6. The Divisionalized Form.

7"Limited" means that the equating of divisionalization with "decentralization", as is done in so much of the literature, is simply not correct. In fact, as Perrow [45, p. 38] points out, the most famous example of divisionalization-that of General Motors in the 1920s-was clearly one of the relative centralization of the structure.

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mance standards, the existence of which depend on two major assumptions. First, each

division must be treated as a single integrated system with a single, consistent set of
goals. In other words, while the divisions may be loosely coupled with each other, the
assumption is that each is tightly coupled within. Second, those goals must be
operational ones, in other words, lend themselves to quantitative measures of perfor-
mance control. And these two assumptions hold only in one configuration, the one
that is both bureaucratic (i.e., operates in a stable enough environment to be able to
establish performance standards) and integrated, in other words, in Machine Bureau-
cracy. Moreover, as noted earlier, external control drives organizations toward Ma-
chine Bureaucracy; here the headquarters constitutes external control of the divisions.
I/ \

1 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

FIGURE 7. The Adhocracy.
One factor above all encourages the use of the Divisionalized Form-market
diversity, specifically, that of products and services. (Diversity only in region or client
leads, as Channon [9] has shown, to an incomplete form of divisionalization, with
certain "critical" functions concentrated at headquarters, as in the case of purchasing
in a regionally diversified retailing chain.) But by the same token, it has also been
found that divisionalization encourages further diversification (Rumelt [53, pp. 76-77];
Fouraker and Stopford [21]), headquarters being encouraged to do so by the ease with
which it can add divisions and by the pressures from the corps of aggressive general
managers trained in the middle lines of such structures. Otherwise, as befits a structure
that houses Machine Bureaucracies, the Divisionalized Form shares many of their
conditions-an environment that is neither very complex nor very dynamic, and an
organization that is typically large and mature. In effect, the Divisionalized Form is
the common structural response to an integrated Machine Bureaucracy that has
diversified its product or service lines horizontally (i.e., in conglomerate fashion).
The Divisionalized Form is very fashionable in industry, found in pure or partial
form among the vast majority of America’s largest corporations, the notable excep-
tions being those with giant economies of scale in their traditional businesses (Wrigley
[68]; Rumelt [53]). It is also found outside the sphere of business (in the form of
multiverities, conglomerate unions, and government itself), but often in impure form
due to the difficulty of developing relevant performance measures.
The Adhocracy
Sophisticated innovation requires a fifth and very different structural configuration,
one that is able to fuse experts drawn from different specialties into smoothly
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functioning project teams. Adhocracy is such a configuration, consisting of organic

structure with little formalization of behavior; extensive horizontal job specialization

based on formal training; a tendency to group the professional specialists in functional units for housekeeping purposes but to deploy them in small market-based teams to do their project work; a reliance on the liaison devices to encourage mutual adjustment-

the key coordinating mechanism-within and between these teams; and selective

decentralization to these teams, which are located at various places in the organization

and involve various mixtures of line managers and staff and operating experts. Of all

the configurations, Adhocracy shows the least reverance for the classical principles of

management. It gives quasi-formal authority to staff personnel, thereby blurring the
line-staff distinction, and it relies extensively on matrix structure, combining functional

and market bases for grouping concurrently and thereby dispensing with the principle of unity of command.

Adhocracies may be divided into two main types. In the Operating Adhocracy, the
innovation is carried out directly on behalf of the clients, as in the case of consulting

firms, advertising agencies, and film companies. In effect, there corresponds to every Professional Bureaucracy an Operating Adhocracy that does similar work but with a broader orientation. For the consulting firm that seeks to pigeonhole each client

problem into the most relevant standard skill within its given repertoire, there exists
another that treats that problem as a unique challenge requiring a creative solution.
The former, because of its standardization, can allow its professional operators to work
on their own; the latter, in order to achieve innovation, must group its professionals in
multidisciplinary teams so as to encourage mutual adjustment. In the Operating
Adhocracy, the administrative and operating work tend to blend into a single effort. In
other words, ad hoc project work does not allow a sharp differentiation of the planning
and design of the work from its actual execution.
In the Administrative Adhocracy, the project work serves the organization itself, as in
the case of chemical firms and space agencies. And here the administrative and
operating components are sharply differentiated: in fact, the operating core is typically
truncated from the rest of the organization-set up as a separate structure, contracted
out, or automated- so that the administrative component is free to function as an
Figure 7 shows both types of Adhocracies, with the blurring of the line-staff
distinction in both cases and the truncation of the operating core (indicated by dotted
lines), or else, in the case of the Operating Adhocracy, its inclusion in the mass of
activities in the administrative center. The figure also shows a partial blurring of the
strategic apex with the rest of the structure. This is because in project work, strategy is
not imposed from above. Rather, it emerges from the stream of ad hoc decisions made
for all the projects. Hence everyone who is involved in the project work and in the
Adhocracy that can mean everyone in the organization-is involved in strategy
making. The key role of the support staff should be underlined here, especially in the
Administative Adhocracy which houses many of its experts in that staff.
Adhocracy is clearly positioned in environments that are both dynamic and com-
plex. These are the ones that demand sophisticated innovation, the kind of innovation
that calls for organic structure with a good deal of decentralization. Disparate forces in
the environment, by encouraging selective decentralization to differentiated work
constellations, as noted earlier, also encourage use of Adhocracy, notably the Adminis-
trative kind. Age-or at least youth-is another condition associated with Adhocracy,
because time encourages an organization to bureaucratize, for example, by settling on
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the set of skills it performs best and so converting itself from an Operating Adhocracy into a Professional Bureaucracy. Moreover, because Operating Adhocracies in particu- lar are such vulnerable structures-they can never be sure where their next project will come from-they tend to be very young on average: many of them either die early or else shift to bureaucratic configurations to escape the uncertainty. Adhocracies of the Administrative kind are also associated with technical systems

that are sophisticated and automated. Sophistication requires that power over deci-
sions concerning the technical system be given to specialists in the support staff,
thereby creating selective decentralization to a work constellation that makes heavy
use of the liaison devices. And automation in the operating core transforms a
bureacratic administrative structure into an organic one, because it frees the organiza-
tion of the need to control operators by technocratic standards. The standards are
built right into the machines. In effect, the support staff, being charged with the
selection and engineering of the automated equipment, takes over the function of
designing the work of the operating core. The result is the Adhocracy configuration.
Finally, fashion is an important factor, because every characteristic of Adhocracy is
very much in vogue today-emphasis on expertise, organic and matrix structure, teams
and task forces, decentralization without power concentration, sophisticated and
automated technical systems, youth, and complex, dynamic environments. In fact,
perhaps the best support for Stinchcombe's claim, cited earlier, that structure reflects
the age of founding of the industry, comes from the observation that while Adhocracy
seems to be used in few industries that were fully developed before World War Two, it
is found extensively in virtually every one that developed since that time. Thus, it is
described by Lawrence and Lorsch [41] in plastics companies, by Chandler and Sayles
[7] in NASA, by Woodward [67] in modern process production, and by Galbraith [23]
in the Boeing Company. Adhocracy seems clearly to be the structure of our age.
  1. Beyond Five
Our five configurations have been referred to repeatedly in this article as ideal or
pure types. The question then arises as to where-or whether-they can be found. It is
clear that each configuration is a simplification, understating the true complexity of all
but the simplest organizational structures. In that sense, every sentence in our
description of the configurations has been an overstatement (including this one!). And
yet our reading of the research literature suggests that in many cases one of the five
pulls discussed earlier dominates the other four in an organization, with the result that
its structure is drawn toward one of the configurations. It is presumably its search for
harmony in structure and situation that causes an organization to favor one of the
pure types.
Other structures of course emerge differently. Some appear to be in transition from
one pure type to another, in response to a changed situation. Others exhibit structures
that can be described as hybrids of the configurations, perhaps because different forces
pull them toward different pure types. The symphony orchestra, for example, seems to
use a combination of Simple Structure and Professional Bureaucracy: it hires highly
trained musicians and relies largely on their standardized skills to produce its music,
yet it also requires a strong, sometimes autocratic, leader to weld them into a tightly
coordinated unit. Other hybrids seem to be dysfunctional, as in the case of the
organization that no sooner gives its middle managers autonomy subject to perfor-
mance control, as in the Divisionalized Form, than it takes it away by direct
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supervision, as in the Simple Structure. School systems, police forces, and the like are
often forced to centralize power inappropriately because of the external controls
imposed upon them. Would-be Professional Bureaucracies become Machine Bureau-
cracies, to the regret of operator and client alike.
The point to be emphasized is not that the five configurations represent some hard
and fast typology but that together as a set they represent a conceptual framework
which can be used to help us comprehend organizational behavior-how structures
emerge, how and why they change over time, why certain pathologies plague organiza-
tional design.
Finally ...
Is there a sixth structural configuration? Well, the rainbow still has only five colors.
But the planets turned out to number more than five. We even seem to be on the verge
of recognizing a sixth sense. So why not a sixth configuration. As long, of course, as it
maintains the harmony of the theory: it must have its own unique coordinating
mechanism, and a new, sixth part of the organization must dominate it.
We do, in fact, have a candidate for that sixth configuration. It relies for coordina-
tion on socialization-in effect, the standardization of norms; it uses indoctrination as
its main design parameter; and its dominant part is ideology, a sixth part, in fact, of
every organization, representing a pull toward a sense of mission. Perhaps the Mission-
ary Configuration will emerge as the fashionable structure of the post-adhocratic age.
8In fact, various sources I consulted referred to five, six, and seven colors. I even tried to count, but there
was considerable ambiguity in the sample of one I managed to collect. In any event, the rainbow almost
certainly has the same number of colors it always did.
9This paper draws on The Structuring of Organizations: A Synthesis of the Research (Prentice-Hall, 1979).
The author wishes to express his appreciation to Andy Van de Ven who commented extensively and very
helpfully on an earlier version of this paper, and to Arie Lewin, because hard working editors seldom get the
recognition they deserve.
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