Henry Mintzberg graduated from McGill University with a degree in mechanical engineering and holds a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been a Cleghorn professor of management studies at McGill since 1968. His early books include "The Structuring of Organizations: A Synthesis of the Research," published in 1979, and "Structure in 5's: Designing Effective Organizations," published in 1983. In these books he introduces his five types of organizational structure and how they influence the functioning of organizations. He has written 15 books and about 150 articles dealing with management and organizations.

Simple Structure

Also called the entrepreneurial organization, the simple structure is a vertically organized pyramid with vertical lines of authority. Its key characteristics are direct supervision of subordinates, organic organization according to functions and a lack of formal support structures. Authority is concentrated at the peak in the person of the CEO. Small and young organizations often fall into this category because it is the default structure that develops when the entrepreneur avoids formal restrictions.

Machine Bureaucracy

The machine bureaucracy gets its name from its high level of work standardization, making organizational units function together like the parts of a machine. Companies with mass-produced output use this form. Tasks are standardized and detailed in operating procedures that allow employees to carry out their work with a minimum of training. Lines of authority are formal, with some power residing in the groups that develop the policies and procedures that govern the company.

Professional Bureaucracy

The professional bureaucracy is bureaucratic without being centralized. It relies on highly qualified professionals to carry out the work with a high degree of independence. The organization achieves its coordination of functions by standardizing the skills and qualifications required to carry out the work of a particular position. The bureaucracy focuses on defining positions in terms of capabilities and making sure these mesh to allow the organization to function.

Divisionalized Form

Large organizations with diversified products create divisions to handle related activities. The advantage of this divisionalized organizational structure is that the divisions can act with a high degree of autonomy to address their particular situations, while the central part of the organization concentrates on the big picture. The existence of divisions also means that there is an inherent duplication of activities, with each division containing essential functions such as sales, human resources and accounting.


Formal organizational structures take time to adjust to changes. In industries that are changing rapidly or in project-based companies where projects are all different, such formal structures limit the required flexibility. The adhocracy adapts to whatever situation it encounters. Its characteristics include a lack of formal structure combined with a variety of highly skilled employees. The adhocracy forms teams to carry out work. Teams are self-organizing with matrix structures that allow effective vertical and horizontal sharing of authority based on competence and the particular situation.