Effects Of Technology On The Organisations Structure Management Essay

This essay will investigate the effects of technology on the organisation’s structure in reference to Perrow’s Study. In fact, the way Perrow analyses organisations looking into jobs delivered within the business, their capability to influence these roles to deliver various tasks and the choice of outcomes accomplished (Perrow,1979). Perrow states that in order to better understand the variations in structure and the degree of bureaucratization, we must understand the need for structure. Tasks which are not well understood makes such units difficult to bureaucratise is an essential organisational concern in 3DNetworks during its transition to an organic structure due to vendor change eventually affects its future organisational strategic structure.

Finally, analysing Perrow’s prominence on the consequence of introducing a mixture of technologies into organisations (Perrow, 1986), in addition to Galbraith’s case that technology can be a main determinant of uncertainty in the organisation and will facilitate easier understanding to the developing structure of 3DNetworks (Robbins & Barnewell, 2006).

In short, in 3DNetworks Australia, both structural change and technological change are of equal importance, since structural change can affect technological change and the opposite is true. There is some limitations to certain arguments as well as being aware of the importance of its considerations by management personnel will aid in proving whether technology is the sole determinant of organisational structure or whether it is the only one of many factors.

During my early months into employment, 3DNetworks duties occupied are in selling a new telephone system, installing it and maintaining that system for number of years. Since 3Dnetworks were aligned with only one vendor this meant the same telephone system is deployed repetitively to businesses, creating ease of delivering systems for that one vendor. Such duties indicate a structure high in Centralisation and Formalisation, yet the most efficient structure was the mechanistic; task inconsistency and problem solving were low due to high predictability like referred by Perrow. He anticipated that task variability and problem analysability were positively correlated (Perrow, 1986). It is odd to find cases within 3DNetwork where duties such as installing a telephone system for the same vendor having few expectations experiencing problems which were not analysable carrying out that duty.

Moreover, Perrow highlights in his theory the causes why duties performed with Single Vendor were implicit, predictable, routine and repetitive. 3DNetworks with various facts that the delivery and installation procedures were delivered with repetitiveness and all the risks were anticipated and mitigated. With such an approach, centralised and formal structure was advantageous since it guaranteed reduced training hours, ensured more profit and efficiency (Perrow,1979). As it is clearly obvious in the past year in 3DNetworks, moving from a single vendor to a multivendor technology will eventually translate into moving to a new complex structure over the years to come since the roles are moving to non routine creating uncertainty. Perrow and Galbraith typologies are the perfect fit for 3DNetworks since they both deal with the routines of responsibilities. While Perrow analyses the effect of routines on the level of the people carrying the job out, Galbraith looks deeper into the impact of routineness on parts or the overall structure of the organisation. (Robbins & Barnell, 2006).

3DNetworks had to adapt, routinise and adjust to change with efforts given to management to reduce uncertainty in the future market than they are to allowing the organisation continually change and adjust in the interest of efficiency organisations deliberately or not, attempt to maximise the congruence between their technology and structure (taylor, 1990). This has resulted in a high level of formalisation in terms of standardising the tasks so that the presentation of 3DNetworks is uniform across not only Australia, but also across Asia-Pac. Therefore, many of the practices employees engage in routine and repetitive work for example; installing the telephone handsets. This portion of formalisation was vital for 3DNetworks since contracted employees reduced the need for highly skilled permanent ones who were only hired to carry a small range of duties like small office projects.

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3DNetworks are currently endeavouring to control the outside influences since the mechanistic organisation seeks to stabilise and routinise its own business processes to establish internal efficiency (Robbins & Barnell, 2006).

This shows the significance influence of technology in the determination of organisational structure. The way in which technology has promoted levels of standardising employee behaviour is through the explicit rules that specifically state what is expected and what is not (Robbins & Barnell, 2006).

Moreover, procedures that specify how to deliver, install and support a phone system simplifies job, training and increases efficiency. As defined in our textbook (Robbins & Barnell, 2006, p220), the result on one study that looked at 14 medium sized firms concentrating only on the two extreme cells-routine and non routine technologies and found support for Perrow’s predictions. Also, another study, covering 16 health and welfare agencies confirmed that organisations that do have diverse technologies and that the more routine the work that more likely it is that decision making will be centralised. These reassured Perrow’s predictions: “work that was high in routineness was associated with high formalisation”, as evident in 3DNetworks.

Furthermore, standardizing duties into process to simplify delivery of new phone systems will reflect at employee’s behaviour after clarifying the requirements and steps of how to install the new systems. Contingency theories like Perrow argue that most companies attempt to deal with influences on a routine, predictable basis. In 3DNetworks even though managers believe it is the best way to minimise the effects technology has on organisational structure, theorists who hold the natural perspective note that various influences are important and can have a beneficial effect on the organisational goals and hence the structure of organisations. In both cases, contingency theorists as well as those who hold natural perspective provide support for the ideology supporting technology as a major determinant of organisational structure. (Borgatti, 1996)

However, months into my employment organisational factors have altered 3DNetworks company structure. The Only one vendor strategy with “NORTEL Networks” which 3DNetworks was aligned with, declared bankruptcy. 3Dnetwroks realised the urgency to look at other alternative Vendors. The IT market is currently saturated and having to introduce new vendors means that 3DNetworks has to skill up its current employees while retaining its current level of competencies. While deciding on the number of additional new vendors to partner with and the strategy moving forward, the company witnessed a reign of high profile resignations that affected its operations. With these departures, 3DNetworks lost personnel of high calibre, systems knowledge which resulted in being non-routine. Such incident is a part in Perrow’s ways of how technology identifies the key aspects of structure. Eventually, it became apparent non-routine technologies require greater structural flexibility (Perrow,1986). This leads us to the following conclusion, that the effects of structure driving technological change are multi directional and 3DNetwork’s Not only does structural change drive technological change, but technological changes also have been driven by structural change. Since current staff are adopting new technologies, unexpected and no-routine duties, this push for structural change led to the emergence of an organic structure. So it is noticeable that technology is a major determinant of changes in structure, particularly for organisations like 3DNetworks.

3DNetworks is expected to be decentralised and delivering routine tasks became non-routine, such units became difficult to bureaucratise toward the end of the year. Moreover, differentiating the staff’s duties to be completed are increasing and this will make it more difficult for the current employees to coordinate these new activities into the divisions and more resources is needed to apply in order to coordinate these activities such as training on new Vendor technologies. The existence of a higher interaction amongst all members began to emerge and slowly lower levels of formalisation became obvious. More discretion will have to be given to current staff to help them adjust to the non routines jobs of the new Vendors. The low formalisation, according to Perrow derives from an inability to write rules about constantly set of problems (Perrow, 1979). 3DNetworks’s restructure reflects Perrow’s theory because current staff began performing new ways of phone installations that were unfamiliar and constant as they were performing many tasks normally completed previously by a selected team. Soon the levels of authority became blurred. Hence, our organisational structure changed, becoming more flexible and losing a high degree of its division of labour which led to an increase in the leniency and emergence of an organic structure. (Robbins & Barnwell,2006)

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In addition, many theories argued that becoming the non-routine organisation does not come for free. It comes at a significant price of long periods of personnel training, professional employees, confusion, wasted material and unpredictable outputs (Taylor,1990). The duties variability with multiple vendors’ strategy exerted pressure and consequences affecting performance across all staff in the 3DNetworks were obvious.

Galbraith indicates the importance of the link between duties and information. As duties are increasingly becoming uncertain, the new information required a sign off by internal stakeholders for the new various vendors to achieve the desired level of performance (Cyert& March,1992). When 3DNA was aligned with Nortel, the routine duties of selling, installing and supporting a telephone system was all straight forward with programs in place that facilitated ease of delivery. Galbraith proposes the structure followed by any organisation is dependent on the depth of the process information in place and has a direct impact on 3DNetworks change in structure. Due to task uncertainty arises the need to have process information as stated by Galbraith.

Current staff began engaging with new unfamiliar tasks for two new vendors introduced by management. This was a challenge for current staff to cope with the current level of work and absorb new tasks for two new vendors at the same time. Current staff had to be skilled up and certified to enable 3DNetworks engage with these vendors.

Galbraith also articulated that an organisation should adopt a structure that allowed it to process information appropriate to its needs at an acceptable level of organisational performance (Robbins & Barnwell, 2006). However, in 3DNetworks, staff were overwhelmed by the business process and the quantity of information they had to absorb in short notice and it seems like management in 3DNetworks had failed to plan to adopt with this situation and there were very few resources to assist with gaining the right information to complete the new tasks which lead to uncertainty. Once again, it was noticeable the influence of technology on determining organisational structure.

In Short, 3DNetworks management failed to recognise effectiveness of organisational structure and thus a more appropriate structure requires the voluntary cooperation of members and actions that promote a positive environment within the organisation. Where this is achieved, high formalisation could have existed .This may also been seen to be present as it is possible to predict the behaviour of organisation members in non- routine situations (Robbins & Barnwell,2006). Rather, they allowed low formalisation to emerge under the belief that high formalisation could not co-exist with non – routine tasks. The transition to reduced formalisation proved to improve interest in the job, however, the responsibility of having to complete non routine tasks not specified in the job description created confusion and job dissatisfaction. Hence, many more organisational problems that could have been avoided existed under the emergence of the newly adopted structure.

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On the Other hand, what managers must recognise is the limitations of the measures of technology which easily gets confused by the effects of structure (Borgatti,1996). For example an organisation may not have implemented a mechanistic model and people experienced much uncertainty in what would normally be considered routine tasks. This notion is evident in 3DNetworks presently, as the changing nature of the company has left contracted staff completing tasks that are normally completed by highly paid subject matter experts (SME) and thus seen as routine in the eyes of the managers. However, the departure of these managers has meant contracted staff are now carrying out these routine tasks with a high degree of uncertainty. This has however, ultimately led to the distinguishing finding which is that the effects of structure driving technological change are multi directional (Perrow,1986). Not only does structural change drive technological change, but in 3DNetwork’s example, technological changes also have driven structural change. As the adoption of new vendor oriented tasks, by contracted staff drove the changes in organisational structure (Borgatti, 1996). Thus, technology is a significant factor in the determination of organisational structure.

Structure and Conclusion:

The Conclusion summoned from this analysis to set future direction is the perception that companies are not the same, they vary to the type of tasks they engage in and thus differ in structure (Taylor,1990). Also the environment is not predictable and uncertain; Environmental uncertainty or “task predictability” is the basic independent variable influencing the design of the organization (Galbraith, 1970). In fact, it is suggested within 3DNetworks to align their management practises constantly according to their current environment with the suitable types of technologies. This will guarantee staff’s awareness of duties and the evolving structure, as this failed to be achieved presently and is acting destructively on the organisation. In turn, if these changes are adopted, 3DNetworks management may be in a better position to define more carefully the nature of their organisation and determine what types of management practises work and which are likely to fail.

Since routinisation strengthens predictability and centralisation, Perrow acknowledges that individuals will attempt to routinise all tasks over which they have authority because routinisation simplifies duties and increases efficiency. Perrow also argues the pros and cons of non routine and routine form of structures and believes that each carry equal benefits depending on the types of tasks performed. As there is no one best way to manage and to be effective, planning, controlling, organising and leading must be tailored to particular circumstances faced by organisations (Perrow, 1979). Therefore, considering such organisational challenges are important to alert management to Perrow’s argument and try to eliminate the idea in manager’s minds to execute routinization of tasks and structures in times of error.

After all, Perrow’s theories will always be a useful reference to understand the organisations structure and the ways technology effects reflect upon dealing with non routine and routine tasks. This will raise the importance of awareness of tasks among 3DNetworks management team and will ensure they can determine the arrangement of roles and the extent of goals that could be achieved with certain new technologies. This is also important as identifying a company’s goal is critical to understanding structure because goals affect structure

On the whole, the investigation above addresses organisational issues through the exploration of other contingency theories and pragmatic facts to conclude that technology might be one of the most significant independent variable in determining Organisational structure, but for sure is not the sole determinant of that structure.

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