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Chapter 8

Psychology 2660A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Technostructure, Organizational Culture, Social System

Course Code
Natalie J Allen

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Chapter 8: Organizations and Organizational Change
Metaphor of equating an organization with a person except organizations don’t have defined
boundaries as we do with our skin
Three theories of organizations
Organizations collectivities of parts that cannot accomplish their goals as effectively if they operated
o A coordinated group of people who perform tasks to produce goods or services
Classical theory
o Classical theory of organizations describes the form and structures of organizations
o Four basic components to any organizations:
1. A system of differentiated activities a formal org emerges when these activities are
linked together
2. People perform tasks and exercise authority
3. Cooperation around a goal must exist among the people to achieve a unity of purpose
in pursuit of their common goals
4. Authority established through superior-subordinate relationships
o Functional principle the concept that organizations should be divided into units that perform
similar functions
Accounts for the grouping of work functions into units like production, sales, engineering,
finance, etc
Relates to the horizontal growth of the organizations the formation of new functional
units along the horizontal dimension
o Scalar principle concept that organizations are structured by a chain of command that grows
with increasing levels of authority
Deals with vertical growth; hierarchy
Unity of command each subordinate should be accountable to only one supervisor
o Line/Staff principle concept of differentiating organizational work into primary and support
Line functions org work that directly meets the major goals of an organization (like
manufacturing the product
Staff functions org work that supports line activities (like personnel and quality control)
o Span-of-Control principle refers to the number of subordinates a manager is responsible for
“Small” span-of-control = 2 subordinates tall organizations (many levels of hierarchy)
“Large” span-of-control = ~15 flat organizations
o There is little that is “psychological” about classical theory – influence from psychology came up
in neoclassical theory
Neoclassical theory
o Neoclassical theory describes psychological or behavioural issues associated with
o Originates in Hawthorne studies
o Problems with division of labour
Sense of alienation from highly repetitive work = work dissatisfaction = decreased
o Neoclassicists argued for a less rigid division of labour for more humanistic work in which
people derive a sense of value and meaning from their jobs
o Although the scalar principle prescribes formal lines of authority, in reality many sources
operating in an organization influence the individual
o The black and white distinction between line and staff functions aren’t so clear in practice
o Span of control is more complex than just picking a number it depends on the manager’s
ability and the intensity of the supervision
o Primary contribution of neoclassical theory = to reveal that the principles proposed by classical
theory were not universally applicable and simple
Didn’t reject classical theory, but proposed to help it fit into reality
Structural theory

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o Structure the arrangement of work functions within an organization designed to achieve
efficiency and control
o The 7 basic parts of an organization
1. Operating core those employees responsible for conducting the basic work duties
2. Strategic apex responsible for the overall success of entire org brain of the org
executive employees
3. Middle line those employees with the day-to-day authority for ensuring that the
overall goals are being carried out by the operating core mid-level bosses
4. Technostructure those employees who possess specific technical expertise
accounting, HR, IT, law
5. Support staff provides services tht aid the basic mission of the org mailroom,
switchboard, security, janitor
Technostructure and support staff = staff functions
Distinction: members of technostructure give advice support staff performs
6. Ideology a belief system that compels commitment to a particular value org
devotion to a specific mission with everything in pursuit of it high ideology = strong
internal cohesion
7. Politics opposite effect of ideology are the seeds of destruction within an org
the total org becomes an arena in which power plays at all levels are considered fair
game for enhancing one’s position – decreased likelihood of org fulfilling its primary
Components of social systems
Social system the human components of a work organization that influence the behaviour of
individuals and groups
o When a social system stops functioning, there is no identifiable structure
o Informal component of an organization
o Roles a set of expectations about appropriate behaviour in a position
o Five important aspects of roles
Impersonal position determines the expectations, not the person
Related to task behaviour
Can be hard to pin down who determines what’s expected?
Learned quickly and can produce major behaviour changes
Roles and jobs aren’t the same
o Role conflict the product of perceptual differences regarding the content of a person’s role or
the relative importance of its elements
o Role overload the conflict experienced in a role as a necessity to compromise either the
quantity or quality of performance
o Role differentiation the extent to which different roles are performed by employees in the
same subgroup
o Norms a set of shared group expectations about appropriate behaviour
o Unwritten rules that govern behaviour
o Important properties:
“oughtness”/”shouldness” – prescriptions for behaviour
Norms are more obvious for behaviour judged to be important for the group
Norms are enforced by the group
o 3-step process for developing and communicating norms
1. Define and communicate the norm explicitly or implicitly
2. Group must be able to monitor behaviour and judge whether the norm is followed
3. Group must be able to reward conformity and punish nonconformity
o Compliance is enforced by positive reinforcement or punishment (dirty look, snide remark)
o Nonconforming employee = deviant don’t conform to the groups expectations
o If rejected form the group = isolate
Organizational culture
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