Lebenn - Rebooting the workforce    
NewIncredible offer for our exclusive subscribers!Read More
November 28, 2023

Attributes of Mechanistic and Organic Organizations

  • February 7, 2022
  • 5 min read
Attributes of Mechanistic and Organic Organizations

Organic and mechanized organizations are generally categorized in the same way. Both structures have the ability to grow in size and complexity. Organic organizations need help in maintaining the structure. On the other hand, the organizational structure in mechanized structure tends to be more solid and self-sustaining.

Organizations are made up of various levels, units, and functions. At the top level are the founder(s), managers and staff members. Different departments such as the marketing staff have different protocols. They are highly adaptive and can change with the circumstances. For example, the marketing department may opt to buy Twitter likes when they feel their engagement is lower than usual, and stop the process when they don’t need it anymore. These highly adaptive people possess a number of roles that they perform excellently. However, in case of organic organizations, the staff and the leaders are highly adaptive and do not have many roles to play. Thus, these individuals are less successful in changing with the times and become highly static.

The characteristics of a mechanistic organization are comparatively high degree of freedom, high degree of customization, relatively high degree of reliability and relatively high degree of productivity. These attributes are generally related to a relatively high degree of operator involvement. In case of organic structures, a relatively high degree of operator involvement tends to reduce the skill-set of the operators.

Organic organizations have a strong tendency to keep on changing with the changing times and this results in a relatively high degree of job specialization. A job specialty could be a field of specialization within a larger organizational structure. For example, we can say that one job specialization is medical record management while another job specialization could be manufacturing quality review or something else. Thus, keeping in view the various job specializations and keeping in view the experience of the employees, a person will naturally choose a specific organizational structure as per his skills and expertise.

Organic organizational systems are relatively high in flexibility and are less tightly controlled than their mechanical counterparts. They therefore tend to absorb minor shocks, are more adaptive and hence able to recover quickly from minor failures. Thus, a large part of the organization is loosely designed and loosely operated and this facilitates spontaneous emergence of new solutions, creativity and improvability. Moreover, they are cost effective and thus favor cost economy. On the other hand, mechanistic organizations are tightly controlled and usually cannot afford to take chances.

With respect to pricing, both the organizations can be profitable. However, the profit margins are lower in case of mechanistic structures. This is mainly because the organization is designed with a particular purpose in mind. Whereas, organic structures are designed with long term viability in mind and the costs associated with them are relatively higher.

Both these types of organizations are flexible and adaptable. They can change in response to external factors in an organic structure. However, it is important to note that flexible and adaptable organizations encounter fewer unexpected issues and have a better shot at survival. On the other hand, it is quite obvious that a mechanistic structure will not change as per the changing demands and thus may not survive very long.

While discussing the pros and cons of these two organizational structures, we should also mention the attributes of the two which are not generally found in the former but are present in the latter. The first main attribute of mechanistic organization is that it is rigid. This characteristic is not present in organic organizations and they do not adopt a very rigid organizational structure. Moreover, while being rigid they are flexible means that they can adapt themselves to the changing market conditions and so on.

Another important attribute of mechanistic structure is that it is tightly controlled. Organic organizations have no such constraints and they allow for plenty of room for flexibility and adaptability to a tightly controlled organization cannot do this. This constraint is not present in organic structures and results in a highly rigid organization.

The third attribute of a mechanistic organization is that it lacks flexibility and adaptability. Organic organizations are generally flexible and they readily accommodate any changes in the market conditions. Moreover, due to their work specialization their solutions and services become very specific and depend a lot on the nature of the industry they are engaged in. On the other hand, a tightly controlled organization has a very narrow scope of work and only a limited range of options and services available. Since the scope of work remains very much fixed the efficiency of this organization also remains relatively high.

The fourth attribute of mechanistic organization is that it is highly adaptive. Organic organizations have their strengths and their weaknesses, but they are generally more flexible and they are relatively less rigid. In organic organizations even a small change can lead to major changes since there is a lot of room for re-thinking, adaptation and revision. In contrast, the performance and output of mechanized organizations remain very much static and they are not able to change much in their strategy, their business process or their products in response to the market changes. Due to their rigid process and their specialization they are unable to make rapid changes in their strategies.