Organizational Functions and Structures

How do organizational functions affect organizational structures?

An organization is a group of people who work in a coordinated effort to meet some defined objectives. Organizations vary in terms of their objectives, functions, scope of operations, resource base, and philosophies behind their formation or establishment.

Organizations, therefore, have various functions, both to themselves and to their clients or customers. Organizational functions include the things done by the organization to whom, when, and why. Organizational functions may be broadly categorized into profit-making, nonprofit-making, and service delivery functions. An organization may perform one or all of these functions depending on its reasons for existence (Murray, Poole & Jones, 2006.pp.45-49).

Organizational structure refers to the chain of command in an organization and who takes what directives from whom, when, and why. An organizational structure is vital for the proper functioning of the organization because it determines how decisions are made regarding various issues touching on policy and public relations (Thompson, 2003).

Organizational functions affect the organizational structure in that the nature of the functions played by an organization determines who should have the final word on how, when, and where to perform the organizational functions. For example, if an organization plays the function of making profits, the decisions on the competition strategy are left to technocrats, who have the final say on which way to go.

On the other hand, if an organization plays the function of delivering some services to people, it may carry out a baseline survey in the form of needs assessment to address the problem from the beneficiaries’ perspective, not from the organizations’ perspective. In this case, decisions are implemented from the bottom-up wards, unlike in the first example where the decisions are executed from the top downwards (Thompson, 2003).

One of the functions of the organization where I work is to provide credit services to customers. The functions of the organization affect its structure in that decisions are made from the top going downwards, meaning that each and every employee takes orders from his or her immediate senior on how to discharge duties. The junior employees are supposed to look for customers to apply for credit, but the final decision on whether the applicants would get the loans or not lies with the top management, not the junior employees.

What are the different types of organizational structures?

There are various organizational structures that are based on the objectives of an organization. The most common organizational structures are bureaucracies. These are based on Weber’s idea of bureaucracy as a way of managing organizations. The bureaucratic structures are characterized by strict chains of command, clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each employee, and recruitment based on merit (Thompson, 2003).

Another form is the post-bureaucratic organizational structure, which includes matrix structures and Total Quality Management. These structures are formed on weber’s bureaucratic ideology but leave out the irrational aspects of an ideal bureaucracy. There is a lot of flexibility in these structures in terms of task performance, meeting deadlines, utilization of resources, and time management. In other words, post-bureaucratic organizational structures de-emphasize the idea of centralization of decision making on some minor issues relating to organizations’ functions but instead empowers employees with the freedom to make various decisions to make their work more efficient, effective, and enjoyable (Thompson, 2003).

I think the most effective organizational structure is the post-bureaucratic because it makes organizations to be efficient and effective, unlike the bureaucratic structure, which is characterized by inefficiency, especially when it comes to making minor decisions. Organizations can determine if they are structured most efficiently and effectively if they meet their objectives efficiently and effectively without delays in decision making caused by rigidity in organizational chains of command. In such organizations, employees are free to be creative and innovative and are encouraged to work in groups, which simplifies work due to group synergy (Thompson, 2003).


Murray, P., Poole, D., & Jones, G. (2006).Contemporary issues in Management and Organizational Behavior. Farmington Hills, MI: Cengage Learning. pp.45-49.

Thompson, J.D. (2003). Organizations in Action: Social Science Bases of Administrative Theory Classics in Organization and Management Series. Chicago, IL: Transaction Publishers.