What are mechanistic and organic organizations? The concept of a ‘man-made’ organization has been around for a long time. Organizational behavior can be described using these two concepts. Basically, they are bureaucratic organizations.
Organic organizations operate very well in simple, stable environments. They can survive even a very large-scale crisis because they are not rigid. On the other hand, mechanistic structures cannot withstand drastic changes in their surroundings. For example, if an organization becomes highly rigid, it will not be able to adapt and respond to changing circumstances. If, for instance, a rigid organization were to discuss the possibility of using SpotifyStorm to boost metrics on a podcast that markets their products, this may be too much of a change for them. On the other hand, organic structures are flexible and they need to figure out themselves how they are supposed to perform in new circumstances.
In highly complex organizations, where change is a constant, decentralized decision-making processes are more applicable. These types of structures have the following general characteristics: they must be democratic, they must be open to multiple interpretations, they must provide flexibility, and they must foster flexibility. In addition, an organizational culture based on democracy allows the organization to adapt to sudden changes in its external environment. This allows the organization to respond quickly to changing circumstances and to avoid catastrophic shocks.
On the other hand, the highly centralized managerial style of operating a tightly integrated system with no room for creativity or flexibility can lead to disaster. A highly centralized decision-making structure may prevent chaos and cause inefficiency. It also may prevent meaningful social interactions. Therefore, highly specialized and rigid organizational structures are unsuitable for highly dynamic, open-ended systems like that of a society. Thus, it is evident that organic organizational structures are a much better choice than the former.
Organizational forms differ in the ways in which they allow for flexibility, in the ways they promote communication, in the ways in which they support constructive forms of conflict resolution, and in the ways in which they respond to sudden external environmental changes. In addition, organizations with flexible organizational structures are able to adapt more quickly to external conditions because they have greater ability to respond flexibly to these conditions. Finally, organic organizational designs and structure allow for more meaningful interaction. More meaningful interaction means that members can come up with innovative solutions to organizational problems and that such solutions can be tested in the open without fear of having negative consequences on other members.
The idea of creating a highly centralized and highly mechanistic organizational structure, on the other hand, implies a drastic decline in the nature of organizations. Such a drastic decline, in turn, means a drastic decline in the nature of work itself. If we were to compare the functions performed by centralized and flexible organizational designs, there is little doubt that the former would dominate. But even this would not mean that the benefits of organizational design, especially mechanistic organization, would outweigh the costs. Indeed, the benefits would likely be so great that the costs would pale into insignificance.
If we were to compare the benefits of the organization with those of a highly mechanistic and highly centralized organization, the obvious advantage would be that of the highly mechanistic structure. Why is this? Because centralized and rigid organization is highly flexible and highly rigid, and it is designed in a highly rigid and highly control environment. Organic organizations are not rigidly controlled and do not function according to a set of rigid organizational principles. Thus, the organic organization does not suffer from the shortcomings of a tightly controlled and highly mechanistic structure.
Further, organic organizations are able to adapt flexibly to changing external conditions, as is illustrated by the very fact that they face no barriers when it comes to the adaptation of their internal organizational structure. The existence of barriers gives rise to the so-called flexibility problem. On the other hand, the presence of a rigid and inflexible managerial system gives rise to the problems of the organization’s efficiency. Thus, the efficiency gap between highly mechanical and highly organic organizations and the gaps that exist between highly rigid and very flexible and adaptive managerial systems clearly demonstrate the qualitative differences between these two organizational structures.