Organic organization

From CEOpedia | Management online

The organisational structure refers to the management system of the organisation, which allows defining the functions of each management area of the company, as well as their hierarchy. An Organic Organisation is defined as an organisational structure in which all employees are on the same level. In this flat structure, interaction and communication are horizontal. Organic tissues are considered complex because they are difficult to form. According to Euroinnova, International Online Education.

History of the organic organization

Organic structures were proposed by Burns and Stalker in 1961 to explain the success of British electronics companies. Since then, Organic Organisation has become an integral part of non-bureaucratic organization theory. The main pillars on which the authors based themselves to develop this new organizational concept were the following [1]:

  • Constantly adapt and redefine personal tasks through interactions with others.
  • Encourages taking responsibility for solving problems, not being moved up or down the ladder.
  • Control, authority, and communication have a network structure.
  • Differences in knowledge needed to assign tasks in the network and move control, authority and, communication to new locations.
  • Giving information and advice, not instructions and decisions.
  • A reputation for commitment to the "spirit of technology" rather than loyalty and obedience.
  • Prestige of affiliations and experience outside the company.

Characteristics of the organic organization

The main characteristics of this organisational model are as follows [2]:

Organic models are very effective in a changing environment that requires a high level of creativity from each participant to provide solutions to complex problems. Through people's attitudes, leadership, and the use of new work processes, organizational structures can be implemented quickly to meet the challenges and opportunities that arise in the workplace. However, since there is no clear distinction between superior and subordinate, conflicts can arise. Moreover, it is a system that, while it can be very effective, can be characterized as ineffective in most cases.

In terms of employee management, it is an organization that bases its principles on teamwork and fostering group leadership. This means that different people are now empowered with leadership skills. It is a shared authority and not an individual one. Multidisciplinary teams have created that work together vertically and horizontally across the company. Mechanization in the production process is almost non-existent and informal communication between workers predominates. A great point of union is the cohesion that is generated by sharing the same values.

Decentralization is one of the fundamental pillars of this model. According to Rondinelli, Nellis, and Cheema (1984), decentralization can be defined as the transfer of responsibility for planning, management, procurement, and resource allocation from the top management of an organization and its agencies to different departments.

Advantages of the organic organization

The main advantages of organic structures are the following [3]:

  • Flexible perspective: Organisational flexibility is one of the main success factors for companies that want to be well positioned in the market. Adaptability to changes in the environment and the demands of external customers.
  • Specialised and efficient work: These are highly trained personnel who can perform different types of tasks if required by the company at any time. This structure is also committed to teamwork, dividing staff into efficient working groups. All assigned members work together to achieve common project objectives. Managers exercise only strategic control. This is a great relief for those in charge (such as managers) who have enough time for other important tasks.
  • Dealing with changing environments: This type of structure is characterized by a high level of solvability in the face of any inconvenience that the environment may present. This is due to the creation of working teams to adapt to the changing needs of the surrounding environment.
  • Decentralization:In this organization, authority is decentralized, with both top management and the lower levels of the structure participating in decision-making. Ideas and information are exchanged throughout the organizational structure, which makes for efficiency and fluidity. The decentralized system leads to a free flow of information among staff. Thanks to two-way communication channels, senior managers can provide guidance, information, and direction to their subordinates, who in turn can provide their perspective to their superiors.

Disadvantages of the organic organization

As might be expected, this structure also has several drawbacks:

  • High administrative costs:This leads to high administrative costs, which reduce the turnover of the organization. Furthermore, this structure is not feasible for organizations with limited funds.
  • Confusion and lack of coordination:In this model, many employees do not have a specific role withinthe organization, which can lead to controversy and uncertainty. As it is joint work, it is often not possible to carry out the chain successfully. If team members are not on the same page, it leads to a loss of efficiency that can affect the achievement of objectives. Moreover, when misunderstandings arise between members, the whole team suffers and it can quickly damage relationships.
  • Communication problems:Too much information can do more harm than good and lead to miscommunication if not checked in time. Sometimes a free exchange of views can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings that can cause problems in the organization. There can be communication problems between departments because each department has its own rules, and this can lead to conflict between the different units. In addition, there may be a disparity between the message you want to give to the other department and the message you receive, which can affect the final result.
  • Unpredictable workflow:In an organic organizational structure, you will not find a fixed or predetermined standard against which to measure the progress of your work. Moreover, the rules of the game are constantly changing to adapt to changing circumstances. This makes it difficult to predict future workflows and team progress.


  1. Travica, B. (1999) p.4
  2. López, J.J (2010). p.3
  3. Brume, M.J. (2019)

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Author: Mónica Guijarro,Gabriela Valera,Zaira Bancells