Distinguish Between Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict Essay

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Distinguish Between Functional and Dysfunctional Conflict

Echanistic and organic organizations are opposite ends of a continuum of organizational structure possibilities. Mechanistic organizations are efficient, rigid, predictable, and standardized organizations.

Specifically, m
echanistic organizations are
charac
terized by a rigid hierarchy; high levels of formalization; a heavy reliance on rules, poli
cies, and procedures; vertical specialization; centralized decision making; downward
communication flows; and narrowly defined tasks. In contrast, organic organizati ons are
flexible, adaptable, and team directed.
In particular, o
rganic organizations are
characterized by weak or multiple hierarchies; low levels of formalization; loose rules, policies, and procedures; horizontal specialization; decentralized decision ma king;
communication flows in all directions; and fluidity of tasks adaptable to changing conditions.
Some writers have called attention to the incongruency between bureaucratic and professional norms
(Crozier
& Friedberg,
2010; Etzioni

Halevy, 2010)
.
Specifically,
they argue that occupants of hierarchical positions frequently do not have the technical competence to make decisions about issues that i
nvolve professional knowledge.
That is,
there is a basic conflict in educational organizations between au thority based on
bureaucracy and authority based on professional norms
(Abbott & Caracheo, 1988).
Others support the notion that bureaucratic orientations and professional attitudes need not conflict if teachers are provided with sufficient autonomy to car ry out their jobs
(Hoy
& Sweetland, 2000)
.
We can conclude from this research that most schools have both bureaucratic and professional characteristics that are often
incompatible but need not be.
Jerald Hage
(1965)
suggests an axiomatic theory of organiz
ations that provides a framework for
defining two ideal types of organizations:
mechanistic
(bureaucratic) and
organic
(professional).
His theory identifies eight key variables found in sc
hools and other
organizations.
These key
organizational
variables
are arranged in a means

ends
relationship and are interrelated in seven basic propositions. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCHOLARLY ACADEMIC INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY 2
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Eight Organizational Variables
Complexity, centralization, formalization, and stratification are the four variables that constitute the organizational
means
by
which school
s
are str
uctured to achieve
objectives.
Adaptiveness, production, efficiency, and job satisfaction are the four variables that represent categories for sorting organizational ends
. Let’s examine each
one more closely
.
Complexity
Complexity
,
or specialization, refers to the number of occupational specialties included in an organization and the length
of training required of each.
Person
specialization and task specialization distinguish the degree of specialization. A teacher who is an expert
in English literature is a person specialist, whereas one who teaches eleventh

grade
English is a task specialist.
The greater the number of person specialists
and the longer the period of training required to achieve person specialization (or degree held
), the more complex the organization.
Centralization
Centralization
, or hierarchy of authority, refers to the number of role incumbents who participate in decision making and the number of areas in which they participate. The lower the proportion of rol
e incumbents who participate and the fewer the decision
areas in which they participate, the more centralized the organization. Formalization
Formalization
, or standardization, refers to the proportion of codified jobs and the range of variation that is
tolerated within the
parameters defining the jobs.
The higher the
propo
rtion of codified jobs in organization
s and the lesser range of variation allowed, the
more formalize
d
the organization.
Stratification
Stratification
, or status system, refers to the
difference in status between highe
r
and lower levels in the organization’s hierarchy.
Differentials in salary, prestige,
privileges, and mobility usually m
easure this status difference.
The greater the disparity
in rewards between the top and bottom statu
s levels and the lower the rates of mobility
between them, the more stratified the organization.
Adaptiveness
Adaptiveness
, or
flexibility, refers to the use of
professional
knowledge
and
techniques
in
the
instruction
of
students
and
the
ability
of
a
school
to
res
pond
to
FRED C. LUNENBURG
______________________________________________________________________________
_______ 3
environmental demands.
The more advanced the knowledge base, instructional
techniques, and environmental response, the more adaptive the organization. Production
Production
refers to the quantity
and quality of output.
Some organization
s are
more concerned with quantity and less concerned
with quality, and vice versa.
This
variable is difficult to measure because of the dichotomy
between quantity and quality.
For example, some universities are “deg
ree mills”; that is, they award a large number of
degrees each year with little concern for quality. Other institutions are less concerned about increasing the quantity of degrees awarded and more concerned about the quality of the pr
oduct (the
knowledge
acquired by the
degree recipient).
T
he greater the emphasis
on quantity
, not quality
of output
,
the more productive the organization.
Efficiency
Efficiency
, or cost, refers to financial as well as human resources and the amount of idle resources.
For example, class size ratio
s of one teacher to 30
students are
more
ef
f
icient than
one

to

ten ratio
s
.
The lower the cost per unit of production, the more
efficient the organization.
Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction
, or morale, refers to t
he amount o
f importance an organization
places on its human resources.
Measures of job satisfaction include feelings of well

being, absent
eeism, turnover, and the like.
The higher the morale and the lower the
absenteeism and turnover, the higher the job satisfaction
in the organization.
Seven Organizational Propositions
Central to Hage’s axiomatic theory are seven propositions, which have been drawn from the classic works of
Max
Weber
(1947)
,
Chester
Barnard
(1964)
,
Charles
Perrow, 1972,
and
Victor
Thompson
(1961)
.
The major theme permeating Hage’s theory
is the concept of functional strains, namely that max
imizing one organizational

means
variable minimizes another.
The eight key variables are relat
ed in fairly predictable ways.
For instance, high centralization r
esults in high production and formalization, high
formalization in turn results in high efficiency, high stratification results in low job satisfaction and adaptiveness and high production, and high complexity results in low centralization. These ideas ar

e expressed in seven propositions:

The higher the centralization, the higher the production.

The higher the formalization, the higher the efficiency.

The higher the centralization, the higher the formalization. 
The higher the stratification, the higher th
e production.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCHOLARLY ACADEMIC INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY 4
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___________________________________

The higher the stratification, the lower the job satisfaction. 
The higher the stratification, the lower the adaptiveness.

The higher the complexity, the lower the centralization.
Two Ideal Types
: Mechanistic

Organic
The interrelationship
of the eight key variables in seven basic propositions was
used to define two ideal type
s of organizations, as Table 1
indicates
. Mechanistic and
organic concepts are organizational extremes that represent pure types not necessarily f
ound in real li
fe.
No
organization
is completely mechanistic (bureaucratic) nor
comp
letely organic (professional).
Most organizations
fall somewhere between these two
extremes.
Table 1
Characteristics of Mechanistic and Organic Organizational Forms Mechanistic
Organization
Organic
Organization
(Bureaucratic)
(Professional)
________________________________________________________________________ Low complexity
High complexity
High centralization
Low
c
entralization
High formalization
Low
formalization
High stratification
Low stratification
Low adaptiveness
High adaptiveness
High production
Low production
High efficiency
Low efficiency
Low job satisfaction
High job satisfaction
_____________________________________________________
___________________
Bureaucratic

type schools tend to have a hierarchical structure of control, authority, and communication with little shared decision making (high centralization). Each functional role requires precise definitions of rights and obligat ions and technical

methods (high formalization).
These schools emphasize status differences between
hierarchical levels in the organization (high stratification); and an emphasis on quantity, not quality, of output at least cost is prevalent
(high producti on, high efficiency). There
is little emphasis on professional expertise in both subject –
matter knowledge and
instructional methodology (low complexity). As well, there is little responsiveness to changing needs of students, society, and subject matter (
low adaptiveness); and human
resources are of little importance (low job satisfaction).
The ideal professional

type school is characterized by high complexity,
adaptiveness, and job satisfaction. That is, school administrators respect the professional kno
wledge of teachers, respond readily to the changing needs of the school and society, and consider the intrinsic satisfaction of teachers to be an important school outcome. Furthermore, centralization is low because administrators encourage teacher partici pation

FRED C. LUNENBURG
_____________________________________________________________________________________ 5
in decision making and delegate considerable authority and responsibility to teachers in the operation of the school.
A network structure of control, authorit
y, and communication
prevails.
School administrators adjust and continually redefine task
s and avo
id always
“going by the book.”
The organization deemphasizes status differences among the
occupants of the many positions in the hierarchy and adopts a colle gial, egalitarian
orientation.
Low efficiency and productivity also characterize the ideal
professional
school.
School administrators in the professional

type school are not as concerned with
the quantity of output as they are with the quality of outcomes. Professional –
type schools
are probably more expensive to operate than bureaucratic

type
schools because
professional

school administrators tend to deemphasize quantity of output at least cost. Such schools tend to be less efficient but more effective.
Each ideal type of school has advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, there are limits on
how much a school administrator can emphasize one variable over another. For example, if there is no codification of jobs (formalization), then a condition of normlessness prevails, which will likely result in low job satis faction among faculty

members.
If schools do not respond to the knowledge explosion, technological innovations, and the changing needs of students and society, schools are apt to fail in the face of an ever

changing environment. Conversely, too high a change rate is likely to result in
increased costs involved in implementing new programs and techniques. Limits exist on each of the eight variables, beyond
which a school dare not more.
Hage
(1965)
expresses it this way: “Production imposes limits on complexity,
centralization, formaliza
tion, stratification, adaptiveness, efficiency, and job satisfaction” (p. 307).
In
other words, extremes in any variable result in the loss of production, even in a school that has the means to maximize this end.
All the relationships specified in the sev
en
propositions are curvilinear.
For
instance, if centralization becomes too high, production drops; if stratification becomes too low, job satisfaction falls. Therefore, exceeding the limits on any variable results in a reversal of the hypothesized

relationships specified in the seven propositions. According to Hage
(1965)
, “t
hese represent important qualifi
cations to the axiomatic theory

(p.
307).
The tension between the mechanistic (bureaucratic) and organic (professional) model is constantly ne
gotiated betwee
n teachers and administrators.
Sometimes it is
resolved in favor of professionals, and sometimes it is resolved in favor of administrators (Bacharach, Reeves, & Guerard, 2000)
.
Implications for Practice
Because schools are fragile
political coalitions, each decision must be considered
strategically, examining its implications for all the major stakeholders (Lunenburg &
Ornstein, 2012).
Thus, school administrators must examine several strategic questions before a professional

school
orientation can be effectively implemented
(Conley &
Bacharach, 1990)
.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCHOLARLY ACADEMIC INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY 6
__________________________________________________
___________________________________
1.
In which decisions will professional teachers become involved? There appears to be general
agreement
among the major stakeholders that teachers should be more
involved in making decisions. However, we need to specify the areas in which teachers will play larger ro
l
es in decision making.
2.
Who will make what decisions in the school?
How much influence should teachers
have with respect to decisions affecting other
parties in the school

students,
teachers, support staff, principals, central office administrators, school board
members? The roles of these stakeholders may need to be clarified or redefined in a professional

school structure.
3.
What are the basic tasks o
f administrators and teachers in the context of a
professional

school structure?
Put another way, what is the basis of teachers’
expertise and professional identity? The amount of participation in decision making probably should be contingent of whether
the issue is relevant to teachers
and
whether teachers have the expertise to make the decision.
4.
What is the role of teacher unions in a
professional

school structure?
The
involvement of teacher unions is a key strategic issue in structuring a professional –
school orientation.
Conclusion
M
echanistic and organic organizations are opposite ends of a continuum of organizational structure possibilities.
They represent pure types not necessarily found in
real life.
Mechanistic organizations are efficient,
rigid, predictable, and standardized
organizations
.
In particular, m
echanistic organizations are characterized by
a rigid
hierarchy; high levels of formalization;
a heavy reliance on rules, policie
s, and
procedures;
vertical
specialization; centralized
dec
ision making; downward
communication flows;
and narrowly defined tasks.
In contrast, org
anic organizations are
flexible,
adaptable, and team directed
.
Specifically, o
rganic organizations are
characterized
by weak or multiple hierarchies; low levels of
formalization; loose rules,
policies, and procedures; horizontal specialization; decentralized decision making; commun
ication flows in all directions;
and
fluidity of tasks
adaptable to changing
conditions
.
The most distinct difference between the two orga
nizational structures is
based on the effectiveness criteria of each model. Whereas mechanistic organization s
seek to maximize efficiency and standardization, organic organizations seek to maximize satisfaction and development.
References
Abbott, M. G., & Caracheo, F. (1988). Power, authority, and bureaucracy. In N. J. Boyan (Ed.).
Handbook of research on educational administration
(pp. 239

257). New
York, NY: Longman.
Bacharach, S.
B, Reeves, G. R.,
& Guerard, J. B. (2000).
Advances in re
search and
theories of management and educational policy
. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

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