Kenneth D. Mackenzie (University of Kansas)

The International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1055-3185

Publication date: 1 April 1998


Given the immense variety of organizations and their purposes, is there some shared underlying reason for their existence? That is, is there a prime directive behind all of this variety? This paper argues that there is such a prime directive: to ensure the welfare of the commons. A commons is the organization, itself, and as such, it produces and yields resources shared by the members in a dynamic interplay of its characteristics. There is a commons‐level set of factors involving its environments, its strategic direction, its implementing commons processes, its resources and technologies, and the results it produces. There is also a member level set of factors involving the member's orientation to the commons, the member's position means of participation, and the results for the members. These eight characteristics must be consistent to ensure the welfare of the commons. These characteristics are continually in flux and the prime directive becomes, in practice, the attaining and sustaining of the dynamic congruency among them. Dynamic congruency implies specific sets of relationships that require balancing in the midst of change. Dynamic congruency can be employed to both assess and improve an organization. The expression of the prime directive has been evolving along with our understanding of organizations. Seeking to attain and sustain dynamic congruency provides a framework for ensuring the welfare of the commons.


Mackenzie, K. (1998), "THE PRIME DIRECTIVE FOR ORGANIZATIONS", The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 289-309.

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Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited

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