The Distribution of Authority in Formal Organizations

The Distribution of Authority in Formal Organizations

The Distribution of Authority in Formal Organizations

The Distribution of Authority in Formal Organizations

Synopsis

This study relates two issues of increasing importance to management: authority and change. It also combines two types of research design and methodology: a field experiment and a "natural" experiment with an emphasis on the control and measurement of variables.

The field experiment is a case study of the impact and developing effects of a series of changes in organizational structure at the research and development center of a large U. S. corporation over a two-year period. It assesses the attendant changes in the productivity and satisfaction of some 150 scientists, engineers, and managers engaged in technical development work at the Center under a newly promoted director-a scientist-executive-who has reorganized its lines of authority in an attempt to improve its effectiveness. His steps to "move decision-making downward" are examined in some detail.

In the controlled experiment, before any of the organizational changes were announced to staff of the Center, the investigators were allowed to measure attitudes as revealed through questionnaires and interviews covering not only groups that were to be reorganized but also a "control" group not involved. A year after the reorganization was put into effect, a second set of questionnaires and interviews was used to measure the effect of change.

The study was originally published in 1968 by the Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, where the authors have served as faculty colleagues and project collaborators while retaining their independence of mind. In the two concluding chapters of this book-one by Professor Zaleznik, the other by Professors Barnes and Dalton-they summarize their findings and present differing and sometimes opposing conclusions.

Excerpt

This volume, The Distribution of Authority in Formal Organizations, is the third in a series of four related studies which have been proceeding under the direction of Professor Zaleznik. the other two, Role Development and Interpersonal Competence by David Moment and Abraham Zaleznik, and The Executive Role Constellation by Richard C. Hodgson ,Daniel J. Levinson, and Abraham Zaleznik, were published by the Division of Research in 1963 and 1965 respectively. the final volume is expected in 1969. the items of this series are related by a common interest in the exploration of three major dimensions of organization research: (1) the process of role taking and its relationship to personality; (2) the dynamics of interpersonal behavior, especially in the setting of the small group; and (3) organization structure, particularly as it establishes the constraints, or the initial "givens," around which role and interpersonal behavior develop.

This latest volume is a study of the impact and developing effects over a two-year period of a series of changes in organizational structure and arrangements in a research and development center. It utilizes the approach of a field experiment to assess the effects of these changes on the productivity and satisfaction of the professional personnel engaged in research and development work. the research focuses on a newly promoted director -- a scientist-executive -- and his organization of some 150 engineers, scientists, and managers engaged in technical development work for the larger parent organization. the director introduced a series of ideas designed to alter the authority make-up of the center in an attempt to improve the effectiveness of the organization. These changes are described as structural changes in that . . .

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