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The central messages of the article are threefold. First, a summary of research testing the perception that cross‐functional organization designs provide key advantages…
The central messages of the article are threefold. First, a summary of research testing the perception that cross‐functional organization designs provide key advantages and differentiators for firms in today's hypercompetitive business climate. Second, includes a multifaceted “body of evidence” (e.g. multiple data sources, a range of industries, and various levels of management). Third, pragmatic recommendations regarding how to advance elusive cross‐functional organization design constructs, which today's executives are increasingly seeking to implement.
The article addresses several key questions – are organizations today more like cross‐functional “symphonies” or do they still resemble the traditional, functional, manufacturing model? Are cross‐functional organizations really more effective than functional organizations? And, if cross‐functional organizations are more effective, why aren't they more prevalent? To answer these questions, information from three key sources was assembled to test a body of evidence: first, a Business Schools Programs Review: a comparison of “functional” versus “cross‐functional” business school programs, that included 61 schools offering Masters of Business Administration degrees, located across the USA; second, a scan of the business literature available from five key online sources; and third, a management survey that included 212 total respondents from 37 different industries.
The evidence presented supports five key conclusions: “Functionality” is still the prevailing organization design. Business schools are not functionally focused, but corporate training is. Functionality dominates the management literature. More managers manage functionally. Cross‐functional organizations appear to have several performance advantages over functional organizations.
The key limitation of the current research, and implication for future research, is that cross‐functional and functional organizational financial performance comparisons were not conducted. Financial performance comparisons should be addressed by future research.
The article provides a set of 12 pragmatic recommendations regarding how to implement cross‐functional organization design structures.
The content of the article is useful to executives and managers for several reasons, including: pragmatic recommendations regarding how to implement cross‐functional organization design structures, which today's executives are increasingly seeking to employ. Multifaceted evidence highlighting the differences between functional and cross‐functional structures. Research confirming the assumption that cross‐functional organization designs provide a key differentiator for firms in today's hypercompetitive business climate. Broad application to companies across multiple industries. An overview of available organization design literature and case examples.
Over the past few years, mathematical and computational models of organizations have attracted a great deal of interest in various fields of scientific research (see Lin &…
Over the past few years, mathematical and computational models of organizations have attracted a great deal of interest in various fields of scientific research (see Lin & Carley, 1993 for review). The mathematical models have focused on the problem of quantifying the structural (mis)match between organizations and their tasks. The notion of structural congruence has been generalized from the problem of optimizing distributed decision-making in structured decision networks (Pete, Pattipati, Levchuk, & Kleinman, 1998) to the multi-objective optimization problem of designing optimal organizational structures to complete a mission, while minimizing a set of criteria (Levchuk, Pattipati, Curry, & Shakeri, 1996, 1997, 1998). As computational models of decision-making in organizations began to emerge (see Carley & Svoboda, 1996; Carley, 1998; Vincke, 1992), the study of social networks (SSN) continued to focus on examining a network structure and its impact on individual, group, and organizational behavior (Wellman & Berkowitz, 1988). Most models, developed under the SSN, combined formal and informal structures when representing organizations as architectures (e.g., see Levitt et al., 1994; Carley & Svoboda, 1996). In addition, a large number of measures of structure and of the individual positions within the structure have been developed (Roberts, 1979; Scott, 1981; Wasserman & Faust, 1994; Wellman, 1991).
For various reasons many organisations are currently introducing the new ways of working (NWW). By now, this occurs on such a large scale, that it becomes relevant to…
For various reasons many organisations are currently introducing the new ways of working (NWW). By now, this occurs on such a large scale, that it becomes relevant to investigate whether the new way of working leads to the best way of working: are the measurements taken by NWW really resulting in pursued outcomes? NWW claims to make working more effective, efficient but also more enjoyable for the organisation as well as the employee (Bijl, 2007). In practice, it seems that more pragmatically reasons lead to changes in the way of working. In many cases this concerns the elimination of fixed workplaces, combined with the possibility to work from home or elsewhere, facilitation of working with new ICT, and establishing an organisational culture which aims at employee autonomy and goal attainment.
To answer the question whether the NWW approach offers sufficient tools to provide effective solutions for occurring objectives, we compare NWW with a scientifically established construct regarding work design: Sociotechnical systems (STS) (Kuipers et al., 2010). We chose STS not only because it is a comprehensive approach to work design (all aspects of managing and organising are addressed), but also because the ambition is similar to NWW. STS considers, next to the ‘quality of the organisation’ (which is central to most work design approaches), also the ‘quality of work’ and ‘quality of employment relationships’ as outcome criteria. With incorporating the latter two, STS distinguishes itself from many other work design approaches and fits to the philosophy of NWW as mentioned above. Important foundations for the NWW approach are the quality of work as well as the willingness to organise teamwork.
The comparison of NWW and STS reveals as most important finding that the NWW approach misses a coherent theoretical foundation for the design of organisations. NWW focuses on loose aspects of organisations, like workspace, work design, management, organisational culture and competences. This is also evident in the scientific research focused on NWW: many studies examine the impact of a specific measure (e.g. introduction of flexible workspaces) on specific aspects of the organisation (e.g. social cohesion). Due to the lack of a work design approach no framework exists to test whether the introduction of NWW fits to the organisation and how work is organised and divided. It is our statement that NWW can only be effective once a good theoretical foundation is provided for NWW and once a clear work design approach is deducted.
Simultaneously, the NWW practices provide so many relevant practical experiences on skills and information underlining the potential of STS. Currently, STS mostly is focused on work in industrial organisations. STS and NWW have the potential to mutually extend each other, while tools may be developed with which new ways of working lead to the best way of working for organisations.
We argue that in order to address the contemporary challenges that organizations and societies are facing, the field of organization development (OD) requires frameworks…
We argue that in order to address the contemporary challenges that organizations and societies are facing, the field of organization development (OD) requires frameworks and skills to focus on the eco-system as the level of analysis. In a world that has become economically, socially, and technologically highly connected, approaches that foster the optimization of specific actors in the eco-system, such as individual corporations, result in sub-optimization of the sustainability of the natural and social system because there is insufficient offset to the ego-centric purposes of the focal organization. We discuss the need for OD to broaden focus to deal with technological advances that enable new ways of organizing at the eco-system level, and to deal with the challenges to sustainable development. Case examples from healthcare and the agri-foods industry illustrate the kinds of development approaches that are required for the development of healthy eco-systems. We do not suggest fundamental changes in the identity of the field of organizational development. In fact, we demonstrate the need to dig deeply into the open systems and socio-technical roots of the field, and to translate the traditional values and approaches of OD to continue to be relevant in today’s dynamic interdependent world.
In this paper we extend established concepts of product and process architectures to propose a concept of organization architecture that defines the essential features of…
In this paper we extend established concepts of product and process architectures to propose a concept of organization architecture that defines the essential features of the system design of an organization needed to achieve an effective strategic alignment of an organization with its competitive and/or cooperative environment. Adopting a work process view of organization, we draw on concepts of product and process architectures to elaborate fundamental elements in the design of an organization architecture. We suggest that organization architectures may be designed to support four basic types of change in organization resources, capabilities, and coordination, which we characterize as convergence, reconfiguration, absorptive integration, and architectural transformation. We also suggest the kinds of strategic flexibilities that an organization must have to create and implement each type of organization architecture. We identify four basic types of strategic environments and consider the kinds of changes in resources, capabilities, and coordination that need to be designed into an organization's architecture to maintain effective strategic alignment with its type of environment. We then propose a typology that identifies four basic ways in which organizational architectures may be effectively aligned with strategic environments. Extending the reasoning underlying the proposed alignments of organization architectures with strategic environments, we propose a strategic principle of architectural isomorphism, which holds that maintaining effective strategic alignment of an organization with its environment requires achieving isomorphism across a firm's product, process, and organization architectures. We conclude by considering some implications of the analyses undertaken here for competence theory, general and mid-range strategy theory, and organization theory.
Health-care systems currently face great challenges, including an increasing elderly population. To respond to this problem, a hospital emergency department, three…
Health-care systems currently face great challenges, including an increasing elderly population. To respond to this problem, a hospital emergency department, three municipalities, and self-employed general practitioners in Denmark decided to collaborate with the aim of reorganizing treatment of elderly acute ill patients. By establishing a small-scale collaborative community and through an action research process, we show, how to jointly explore and develop a new organization design for in-home hospital treatment that enables the health professionals to collaborate in new ways, and at the same time to investigate and improve this cocreation process and codesign of knowledge among multiple different stakeholders.
The authors argue that organization design needs to play a more active role in the explanation of differential performance and outline a set of ideas for achieving this…
The authors argue that organization design needs to play a more active role in the explanation of differential performance and outline a set of ideas for achieving this both in theoretical and empirical research. Firms are heterogeneous in terms of (1) how well they do things, capturing persistent productivity differences, and (2) how they do things – and both reflect firms’ organization design choices. Both types of heterogeneity can be persistent, and are interdependent, although they have typically been studied separately. The authors propose a simple formal framework – the “aggregation function framework” – that aligns organization design thinking with the emphasis on performance heterogeneity among firms that is characteristic of the strategy field. This framework allows for a more precise identification of how exactly organization design may contribute to persistent performance differences, and therefore what exactly are the assumptions that strategy and organization design scholars need to be attentive to.
Images and ideals of organization design have changed dramatically in the past decade in response to the need for a redirection in the purpose and strategy as well as…
Images and ideals of organization design have changed dramatically in the past decade in response to the need for a redirection in the purpose and strategy as well as leadership styles following the global economy, new brave networked world, emerging new forms of organizing, and social innovations. This chapter is an invitation to explore a new genre of organization design and organizing as if life matters. It is a call to embrace organizations designed to affirm, nurture, and sustain life. The chapter discusses two key questions: “What Gives Life to Human Organizing” and “What Are We Designing.” The first part aims to uncover what gives life to human organizing through an exploration of nine principles of appreciative organizing. The second part aims to expand what we mean when we talk about organization design through an examination of six fundamental structures that seem to be at play in organized action.
For at least three decades, inter-organizational collaboration (IOC) has attracted scholarly attention and many studies have unveiled its inner dynamics. More recently…
For at least three decades, inter-organizational collaboration (IOC) has attracted scholarly attention and many studies have unveiled its inner dynamics. More recently, new phenomena have appeared in the changing landscape of IOC, affecting the way in which organizations are open to interact with, and rely upon, other actors that may be standalone entities as well as representatives of other organizations. These actors operate “betwixt and between” the organizational core and its external environment(s), populating a liminal space located at the organization’s boundary in which activities take place according to non-proprietary and non-employment logics. The authors focus on the forms of collaboration, which blur the lines between organizations, calling into question the fundamental label of crowd-focused IOCs. The authors consider two forms: crowd-open and crowd-based organizations. The authors show the organizational design impact of openness spans from the mere scalability associated with organizational growth to the phenomena of reshaping formalization and standardization of roles and processes, and self-organizing over time.