Differences between mechanistic and organic organizations

A mechanistic organization, which is essentially a bureaucracy, is characterized by reliance on formal rules and regulations, centralization of decision making, narrowly defined job responsibilities, and a rigid hierarchy of authority, where the emphasis is on following procedures and rules. In contrast, an organic organization is characterized by low to moderate use of formal rules and regulations, decentralized and shared decision making, broadly defined job responsibilities, and a flexible authority structure with fewer levels in the hierarchy. The degree of job specialization is low; instead, a broad knowledge of many different jobs is required. Self-control is expected and there is an emphasis on reciprocal technological interdependence among employees. 
Impersonality is the extent to which organizations treat their employees, customers, and others according to objective, detached, and rigid characteristics. Managers in a highly mechanistic organization are likely to emphasize matter-of-fact (objective) indicators, such as test scores when making hiring, salary, and promotion decisions. Although managers may consider these factors in an organic organization, the emphasis is likely to be on the actual achievements and professional judgments of individuals rather than on rigid quantitative indicators. Rules are formal statements specifying acceptable and unacceptable behaviors and decisions by employees. 
Rules are an integral part of both mechanistic and organic organizations. In a mechanistic organization, the tendency is to create detailed, uniform rules to cover tasks and decisions whenever possible. In a mechanistic organization, the tendency is to accept the need for extensive rules and to formulate new rules in response to new situations. In an organic system, the tendency is to create rules only when necessary (e.g., safety rules to protect life and property). Procedures are preset sequences of steps that managers and employees must follow in performing tasks and dealing with problems. Procedures often comprise rules that are to be used in a particular sequence. 
They often proliferate in a mechanistic organization. Managers in organic systems usually know that rules and procedures can make the organization too rigid and thus dampen employee motivation, stymie innovation, and inhibit creativity. Employee input is likely to be sought on changes in current rules and procedures or on proposed rules and procedures when they are absolutely necessary. Employees at all levels are expected to question, evaluate, and make suggestions about such proposals, with an emphasis on collaboration and communication. While impersonality, extensive rules, and rigid procedures are thus typical of mechanistic organizations and normally quite alien to organic organizations, there are circumstances in which they are appropriate for both. 
In many cases, laws, court rulings, and regulatory agency decisions may recommend or even mandate that well-defined rules and procedures be developed and applied through a relatively impersonal process. Such recommendations and/or requirements often apply in the areas of anti-discrimination law, unionization, whistle blowing, and health and safety, among others.

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