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Technology An organizarion's rechnology is an important contextual variable in determining its structure as noted in Chapter 2.35 Technology is...

Comment upon how "technology" in the workplace significantly impacts strategy or operations.

Technology An organizarion's rechnology is an important contextual variable in determining its structure as noted in Chapter 2.35 Technology is defined as the tools, techniques, and actions used by an organization to transform inputs into outputs.35 The inputs of the organization include human resources, machines, materials, information, and money. The outputs are the products and services the organiza- tion offers to the external environment. Determining the relationship between technology and structure is complicated because different departments may employ different technologies. As organizations become larger, there is Sreater variation in technologies across its units. Joan Xfoodward, Charles Perrow, and James Thompson have developed ways to understand traditional organizational technologies. More work is needed to better understand the contemporary en- gineering, research and development, and knowledge-based technologies of the information age. \Moodward introduced one of the best-known classification schemes for technol- ogy, identifying three types: unit, mass, or Pfocess production. Unit technology is small-batch manufacturing technology and, sometimes, made-to-order production. Examples include Smith &'Wesson's arms manufacture and the manufacture of fine furniture. Mass technology is large-batch manufacturing technology' Examples include American automotive assembly lines and latex glove production. Process production means continuous production. Examples include oil refining and beer making.'Woodward classified unit technology as the least complex, mass technology as more complex, and process technology as the most complex. The more complex the organization's technologS the more complex the administrative component or structure of the organization needs to be. Perrow proposed an alternative to'l7oodward's scheme based on two variables: task variability and problem analyzability. Task variability considers the number of exceptions encountered in doing the tasks within a job. Problem analyzability examines the types of search procedures followed to find ways to respond to task exqeptions. For example, for some exceptions encountered while doing a task, the appropriate fesponse is easy to.find. If you are driving down a street and see a sign that says, "ps1eu1-B,ridge Outr" it is very easy to respond to the task variability. 'When Thomas Edison was designing the first electric light bulb, howeveq the proF lem analyzability was very high for his task. Perrow wenr on to identify the four key aspects of structure that could be modi fied to the technology: (1) the amount of discretion that an individual can exercisE to complete a task, (2) the power of groups to control the unitt goals and srrategies. (3) the level of interdependence among groups, and (4) the extent to which organi zational units coordinate work using either feedback or planning. Figure 15.3 sum- marizes Perrow's findings about types of techlology and basic design dimensions.'r- Thompson offered yet anotller view of technology and its relationship to organi- zational design. This view is based on the concept of technal*giccl interelependet*.: (i.e., the degree of interrelatedness of the organization's various technological ele- ments) and the patfern of an organization's work flows. Thompsont research sug- gests that greater technological interdependence leads to greater organizational complexity and that the problems of this greater complexity may be offset by decen- tralized decision making.ls The research of these three early scholars on the influence of technology on organizational design can be combined into one integrating concept, which is the routineness in the process o[ changing inputs into outputs in an organization. This routineness has a very strong relationship with organizational structure. The more routine and repetitive the rasks of the organization, the higher the degree oi formalization that is possible; the more centralized, specialized, and standardized the organization can be; and the more hierarchical levels with wider spans of con- trol that are possible. Since the work of Woodward, Perrow, and Thompson, however, an impor- fant caveat to the discussion of technology has emerged: the advance of IT has influenced how organizations transform inputs into outputs. The introduction oi 56s C eomptteeintegtatd hctworks, UDTCAnS6*a>arbrykif4---i+|ll- 91t'k'd' h'|v. .,\t'^- facturing has broadened the span oi control, flattened the organizational hierarchS de.eot dirrd decision makin& and lowered &e amount of specialization and stan- dardtzatioo.-3e Advances in IT have allowed for other advances in manufacturing;
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The introduction and continual improvement in the technology had a great impact on the
strategy of the organization; it has improved the working of every department in some form or
the other in the...

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