Types of Organizations
Flat versus Tall Organizations
By definition, a small business is typically a flat, centralized organization. The founder/owner is the boss and makes all the critical decisions. However, as the personnel count grows, the firm’s structure typically expands either horizontally (flat) or vertically (tall).
Centralized versus Decentralized Organizations
Communication is essential to disseminate information throughout organizations and can take place at many levels. There are two communication models that are utilized: centralized and decentralized. Again, each style can be effective depending on the environment and each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Flat organizations follow the decentralized approach, or organic system. There are fewer levels of management which creates an environment for faster growth and response between all levels. Organizations that follow this type of structure have wider spans of supervisory control and have more horizontal communication.
More decisions are made at the middle levels of the organization. They are less bureaucratic and less structured. Externally, the organization as a whole becomes more adaptable to its market and can quickly react to changes. Internally, the organization as a whole encourages more participation between all levels of the organization. As a result, all levels have the potential of working more closely together which enhances a closer working environment with better communication and creativity.
A tall structure is a more formal, bureaucratic organization or mechanistic system. In this environment, multiple levels of management control decision making processes and employees within the organization. When numerous levels become involved in daily operations, decision-making tends to be more impersonal.
Since this type of structure has more levels, the division of labor is much more specialized. Departments can become more compartmentalized, which increases the communication within them, but does not lend itself to communication with other departments
Centralized organizations require communications flow through a central person or location. Single leaders are prominent and have a great deal of decision-making power. These persons have access to more information and can therefore exercise a great deal of influence over group members by controlling the flow of critical information.
One disadvantage to centralized communication is that as the organization grows, the amount of information can overwhelm the central hub (person or department) that processes this information. One advantage to the centralized approach is that it encourages standardized processes that typically result in cost savings and better quality control.
Decentralized organizations tend to utilize many channels of information flow, allowing for more open communication between group members. This model is more conducive to solving complex problems.
One of the major advantages to decentralized communication is that problems and processes can be solved and changed in a timely manner. Also, the needs of customers and employees are more easily and quickly met because fewer levels of management are involved.
A major disadvantage to a decentralized organization is that departments can easily lose sight of the organization's common mission. To ensure organizations stay on task, upper management should maintain open lines of communication with local management.
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