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).
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.
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.
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.
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