Formal Theories of Organization

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  • Theories that focus on structural and managerial arrangements that are designed to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity. The typical elements include organizational centralization to strengthen control and coordination, division of labor to encourage specialization, and scientific approaches to determine the “one best way” to accomplish the organization's work.

    While many formal organization concepts emerged in the work of pioneers such as Frederick Taylor, Max Weber, and Luther Gulick in the 20th century, their ancestry is also recognizable in much earlier ecclesi astical and military hierarchical structures and emphasis on rules. In both early and later models, the elements serve the purposes of control and predictability.

    Formal models dominated the organizational theory literature during the 1920s and 1930s but soon faced challenges from two quarters. The earlier ...

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