Thompson - Organization in Action

  1. Strategies for Studying Organizations
    • closed system - rational <-> opened system - natural
    • conceives complex organizations as open systems hence indeterminate and faced with uncertainty, same time as subject to criteria of rationality and hence needing determinateness and certainty
    • organizations exhibit three distinct levels of responsibility and control: technical, managerial and institutional
  2. Rationality in organizations
    • organizational rationality demands the logic of an open-system, involves three major activities:
      • input,
      • technological,
      • output activities
    • organizational rationality is some result of:
      • constraints which the organization must face,
      • contingences which the organization must meet,
      • variables which the organization can control
  3. Domains of organized actions
    • four major sectors of task environment:
      • customers (both distributors and users)
      • suppliers of material, labor, capital, equipment and work space,
      • competitors for both market and resources,
      • regulatory groups, including governmental agencies, unions and intern-firm associations
  4. Organizational design

  5. Technology and structure
    • three types of interdependence:
      • pooled
      • sequential
      • reciprocal
    • three types of coordinations:
      • coordination by standardization
      • coordination by plan
      • coordination by mutual adjustment
  6. Organizational rationality and structure
    • The more heterogeneous the task environment, the greater the constraints presented to the organization.
    • The more dynamic the task environment, the greater the contingencies presented to the organization.

  7. The assessment of organizations
    • organizations satisfice <-> organizations maximize
    • Traditionally in teh economic model, the utility is profit, and the assumption is that profit is maximized. - this works well in one dimensional sphere
  8. The Variable human
    • Actions in routinized jobs
    • Actions in jobs at contingent boundaries
    • Actions in intensive technology
    • Actions in the managerial technology
  9. Discretion and its exercise
    • individuals exercise discretion whenever they believe it is to their advantage to do so and seek to evade discretion on other occasions
    • where alternatives  perceived to have equal consequences or the organization, the individual will select the alternative which favors his sphere of action

  10. The control of complex organizations
    • decision strategies:
      • computational strategy
      • judgmental strategy - outcome preferences Certain -  cause/effect relationships Uncertain
      • compromise strategy
      • inspirational strategy
      • 10.1: The more numerous the areas in which the organization must rely on the judgmental decision strategy, the larger the dominant coalition.
      • 10.1a: The less perfect the core technology, the more likely it will be represented in the dominant coalition. 
      • 10.1b: The more heterogeneous the task environment, the larger the number of task-environment specialists in the dominant coalition.
  11. The administrative process

  12. Conclusion