Custom «Organizational Research» Sample Essay
Organizational structures have a significant influence on a company’s ability to achieve its objectives (Lunenburg, 2012). Essentially, they are vertical or horizontal; however, there are also other organizational structures that combine elements of two mentioned ones with the aim to achieve certain organizational objectives. Specifically, bureaucratic structures that are vertical in nature are some of the major organizational structures in practice (Jones, 2013). The following essay discusses bureaucratic structures in detail as illustrated in Xerox’s case study.
Bureaucratic organizational structures are ideally vertical formations with the well-known chain of commands and the flow of information that is skewed towards the top-down direction. Looking at Xerox’s organizational structure, one can identify various elements of bureaucratic structures. First, Xerox had a vertical flow of communication. Before the entry of Anne Mulcahy into the top leadership position of the company, the chain of information flow was from top to bottom (Jones, 2013). This led the organization to the loss of its innovativeness and the significant lag behind Japanese companies that rose and developed better and cheaper copiers thus having provided intense competition to Xerox. Second, Xerox had multiple layers of organizational management, which made it harder to make decisions rapidly. In particular, the need to obtain approval from various organizational managers made decision-making rather tedious exercise that resulted in Xerox slower addressing market dynamics as compared to its competitors. This ultimately led to numerous inefficiencies that slowed down Xerox’s research and development and finally caused the company’s loss of competitive edge in the market.
In modern organizational management, companies are opting to have flat organizational structures as to address organizational dynamics that are inherent in the business arena (Lunenburg, 2012). At this point, it is worth noting that it has become important for organizational management to address changes in the market with speed and quality. Looking at Xerox, one can acknowledge that the company’s bureaucratic organizational structure placed it as a disadvantage as compared to its Japanese competitors. To this effect, the organization found its products losing their competitive edge over the competitor’s products that were significantly cheaper and of higher quality. Furthermore, the advances in digital technology and information communication technology seemed to have taken Xerox by surprise (Jones, 2013). Although the company had high research and development costs, it was not creating products that related to the associated costs but ones that were uncompetitive in the global market.
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The new CEO came with an approach that sought to empower employees in such a manner that would encourage them to be more innovative and at the same time more productive. Interestingly, one of the first CEO’s moves was to engage with employees while thinking of innovative ideas that would have the potential to raise the overall organizational competitiveness. Due to such organizational restructuring move, the CEO was able to empower her employees to develop ingenious ideas such as customized products for clients who had specific requirements, for example, banks. Flatter organizations also reduce the time taken to make decisions thus enhancing the ability of the company to address market dynamics. This is critical for an organization operating in the sphere of information and communication technologies: the latter one is highly dynamic and, therefore, requires the organization to align its business processes with the immediate needs in the market. Lastly, flatter organizations encourage organizational commitment and ownership; this leads to team synergy that ultimately translates to organizational success.
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Looking at Xerox, various division structures were applied in the company’s practice. First, there are product structures designed according to the product range provided by the company. As such, research and development take place according to specific product needs. Ursula Burns was the head of manufacturing – the core functional division that was responsible for producing copiers. Under manufacturing division were various product divisions responsible for individual product lines. There was also geographical division whose scope was limited to the geographical operational locations of the company. Other divisions such as marketing and finance were functional by nature and responsible for providing specialized functional services for the company.
In conclusion, one should acknowledge that organizational design models and structures influence organizational development in various degrees. Thus, organizational management should apply an organization structure that is best aligned to enable it to achieve the objectives. Moreover, both vertical and flat organizational structures have a wide range of advantages and disadvantages. As such, organizational management should conduct an internal process audit that would inform it of the best approach to take. However, with the highly dynamic modern business environments, it is imperative that companies have in place the elements of horizontal structures that would enable them to address emerging issues in the shortest period of time. This shift in organizational structure perspective can be associated with the positive changes that Xerox experienced.
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