Organizational Theory & Effects on Today’s Modern Workplace

Filed in: Business

Post Date: 2017-11-20

Numerous organizations over the past few decades have applied one or more the theories outline by Jørgen Lægaard in his book entitled Organizational Theory. Each theory has had an impact on different business models and how they conducted their organizational hierarchy and in the development of today’s organizational structures. By understanding the various Organizational Theory’s, companies have been able to determine what the pros and cons are to provide a more effective working model.

Brief Overview

Organizational Theory’s had historical contributions that were designed to answer the challenges companies faced when dealing with the management of staff within their organizations. As such we explore the theories of four influential individuals that provided their views on how to resolve the various problems.

History & Limitations of the Organizational Theories

            While each of the Organizational Theories had been developed to solve a problem in varied business models, each one provided some value to companies, however, they all had their own set of securitizations by employees and management.

Scientific Management was developed by Frederick W. Tayor, at the beginning of the 20th century, during the industrial revolution and was adopted by mass-producing companies. Henry Ford, known for manufacturing and putting a large number of cars, is an example a company that adopted this organizational theory.

The theory was based on the scientific analysis where each work process could be measured, thereby the output of work could be done with machine-like procedures. The technical procedures and functions were also seen in the service sector.

The Scientific Management Theory had been put under scrutiny, by both employees and managers, because it was felt that individuals disregarded their own common sense and judgment. Additionally, criticist believed that the methods resulted in the exploitation of workers, putting unnecessary pressures to perform the work faster.

Administrative Theory. Around the same time as the development of the Scientific Theory, Taylor Henri Fayol developed another approach called Administrative Theory. This process inverts the focus that the Scientific Management had and rather than technical concentrated more on rationalization.

His theory in the administrative approach had to overarch principals that included coordination and specialization. The coordination method used a pyramid-like hierarchy of members of the organization, where employees reported to one superior only, but a superior can have a set number of subordinates that the individual can handle. The specialization method used a distribution of activities distributed to a working group or departments. It was later criticized by some, arguing that the model was over-simplifying administrative functions.

Fayol developed 14 Principles of Management that had that significant influence on modern management. While much of the 14 principals are not widely used today, they can still provide guidance to today’s managers.

Bureaucracy Model. Was developed by Max Weber who had been described to be the father of sociology, and his theory was modeled by conditions in Western civilization. Weber’s approach differed from Taylor and Fayol in that his ideas encompassed a broader approach. He concluded that by understanding an organization and their structure, both the social and historical perspective can be utilized.

Weber’s Bureaucracy Model has been given a number of feature characteristics (Smriti Chand, 2014).  that include the following.

  1. The administrative class that is responsible for the maintaining and coordination of its members.
  2. Hierarchy, which is the basic feature of that establishes a hierarchy of positions in an organization.
  3. Division of Work denotes an organization that is divided on the basis of specialization to capitalize on the division of labor.
  4. Official Rules is the most basic and emphasized feature where rules are maintained to ensure uniformity and coordination are adhered to by individual members of the organization.
  5. Impersonal Relationship is a notable feature where relationships among individuals are governed by rules and positions are free from personal involvement.
  6. Official Record is characterized by the maintenance of the proper official record, where the decisions of the organization are formally recorded.

While there are many advantages to the

Theory of Administrative Behavior. Herbert Simon goal in this theory was to clarify characteristics Bureaucracy Model and explain their connection to rational behavior. Simon emphasized that in Weber’s theory it would be easy to criticize the rational model for its lack of realism.

Simon specified two individual views where the characteristics and needs were different. One of the individual types was called the Economic Man, who views included clear and constant objective, and full knowledge and information. The Administrative Man, on the other hand, had unclear objectives, with limited knowledge.

The Theory of Administrative Behavior according to Simon notated that individuals of an organization make decisions based on value-related components, where an individual situated lower in the hierarchy tend to base decisions on factual components.

What has been the Most Influential?

         While we all have our opinions on which theory is the most influential. My thought that the most influential theory is the Theory of Administrative behavior, by Herbert Simon.

The Bureaucracy Model, however, does have a lasting influential impact on our society and workforce. That said, I feel that many of its contributions have been adopted by the government and military organizations. The Administrative Behavior, however, in my view has had more impact on the working model practiced by large and small companies alike across the globe and has the flexibility to confirm the various needs of an organization.

From a historical perspective, I believe that its theories were gathered by the Bureaucracy Model and the Administrative Theory too and combined them with their best attributes that are widely used in today’s organizations. I can see much of its practices being utilized in my own work and in companies I have personally worked with historically.

What are your thoughts on the most influential?


            The concepts discussed have impacted the workforce over decades. Each theory having both positive and negative conclusions that ultimately was the basis of today’s current organizational theories. In researching the various theories, it was evident that each of the theories improved based on the short-comings of another method. By having a better understanding of these theories, we can have an idea of how our modern world has applied and will continue to evolve into the future.


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