An organization’s structure is an important factor in how effectively it will operate. Some businesses are more suited to a hierarchical structure that adheres to rigid guidelines and procedures, while others benefit greatly from a structure that allows for free-flowing ideas and linear communication styles. The mechanistic organizational structure uses a top-down approach to management, while organic organizational structure uses a more flexible management style.
Mechanistic Organizational Structure
The mechanistic organizational structure is the most common business structure and is typically used in a manufacturing environment. This type of organizational structure is bureaucratic, which means it employs a highly centralized authority figure. A set of formal procedures, functions and processes are implemented throughout the organization under a mechanistic organizational structure.
In this type of organization, employees tend to work separately on their own tasks, which are handed down through a chain of command. Company-wide decisions are left to employees who reside at the top of the hierarchical chain and communication is passed from the top down. Written communication tends to dominate within this type of structure.
An organizational chart in the mechanistic organizational structure would typically include the Chief Executive Officer, executives, supervisors, managers and support personnel. Individual specialization is prominent among employees at every level within this structure. An organization is typically made of a network of positions based on an employee’s specialization within the company. Usually, each person handles one task within the network of business functions.
Within this structure, employees have little daily interaction with members of the structure’s upper executives. Those upper-level employees normally hold tight control over the employees below them, outlining processes and rules that must be adhered to throughout daily business operations.
Organic Organizational Structure
An organic organizational structure is a flat organization that allows for horizontal communications and interactions and is more suited to creative businesses. This type of organizational structure is decentralized, giving employees at all levels a chance to participate in business-related decision making.
Businesses with an organic structure often encourage group participation and the sharing of work responsibilities. Communication channels are open to employees, managers and business owners and contact between all levels of employees usually occurs on a regular basis. Lower-level employees tend to have more face-time with executives than in a mechanistic organization. The type of communication most often used in organic structures is verbal.
The flat nature of organic businesses allows this type of organizational structure to be more flexible to change if needed. Employees take part in a joint specialization based on the jobs at hand, providing expertise on a wide array of functions within the business. Status is tied to the perceived intelligence and aptitude of the employee rather than their position within the company. In an organic structure, the business is made up of a network of people or teams who work together in varying capacities to achieve the goals of the business.
Emily Hunsaker is a writer and marketing consultant with diverse employment background, ranging from journalism to nonprofit marketing. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Tulane University, in addition to an MBA from Southern Illinois University.