The Relationship Between Organizational Culture And Organizational Structure
There is a ton of information out there on organizational culture and about every detail of it you can imagine. The relationship between organizational culture and organizational structure is an important theme that is often overlooked. The two can be difficult to clearly distinguish from one another, and even more so to clearly define within an institution. Organizational structure works within an organizational culture, but it is not completely separate. The two are very much intertwined.
Organizational culture is more of a larger picture, a more general term that refers to a large umbrella of smaller topics and issues within an organization. The structure refers to the infrastructure, and the various methods and practices within that infrastructure, that helps an organizational culture run with the efficiency and consistency that should be the hallmark of any healthy organizational structure, whether it is in a corporation, sports team, or any other set up that is large enough to create its own organizational culture.
This makes the structure an integral part of any organizational culture, but also narrows out a very specific segment of the culture as its own responsibility. Organizational structure will deal primarily with the set up of the culture. How management works, which specific responsibilities supervisors have, how a complaint is passed through the ranks-these are all issues within the organizational culture that are directly tied to how an organizational structure works. The structure is not limited to those three examples, but it would certainly include all of them.
Another common way to describe how structure works is to say that organizational structure is the way in which the interrelated groups within and organization are set up to allow them to function smoothly from a larger standpoint. The two main purposes of a successful organizational structure is to ensure effective communication between various parts of the company, as well as to increase coordination between different departments.
Some theorists have even broken down the concept of organizational structure into several categories to describe the phases which businesses go through as they grow in size and scope. The first is the pre-bureaucratic structure, which is mainly known for lacking a structure that standardizes tasks. This set up is great for small businesses, and ones that don't have many repeat scenarios, and therefore have to be adaptive.
The next level is bureaucratic, which is where there is larger organization which requires a degree of standardization in paperwork, processes, etc. While bureaucracy has a negative connotation, it can be a good thing in small doses, especially in tackling issues that will become recurring themes in larger businesses. There is also the post bureaucratic, which has a more nebulous definition and is seen as more of a theoretical term, but might be referred to more recent, cultural based models of leading.
As you can see, the relationship between organizational culture and organizational structure can be hard to tell apart, but in a fully healthy culture that is exactly what should be expected when all is functioning normally.