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Functional analysis of organizational designs

Nicolay Worren (School of Economics and Business, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Aas, Norway)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 7 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to describe an analytical approach – functional analysis – that can be used to evaluate the current design of an organization and identify alternative designs that may increase the ability to realize strategic and operational goals.


The approach described in this paper is based on key concepts in systems theory and axiomatic design theory (Suh, 1990, 2001). A brief case example is used to illustrate the practical application of the approach.


It is shown that functional analysis can be used to map the design of an organization and identify key design challenges (e.g. related to overlapping or conflicting functions).

Research limitations/implications

The case study that is described is considered to be a pilot application of the approach as it is based on a limited number of interviews.

Practical implications

This paper should be relevant for applied researchers, management consultants, project managers and others who are analyzing the current structure of an organization and/or are involved in re-designing an organization.

Social implications

Application of the functional approach may improve design processes and thereby enhance the effectiveness of social systems, including public and private sector organizations.


This paper describes how key concepts in systems theory and axiomatic design theory can provide the basis for a new framework for analyzing organization designs.



The author would like to thank Alexander Huun for his contribution to the case example in this article.


Worren, N. (2016), "Functional analysis of organizational designs", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 774-791.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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