Antonia Strati (2000), in his discussion of Richard Scott’s distinction between the main characteristics of organizational systems, quotes Scott who states that the distinction amongst organizational systems stands as “a conceptual umbrella under which… (one may) gather the related views and approaches which bear a strong family resemblance” (p. 39). Based upon their family resemblance, organizational systems may be classifies as rational, natural, or open. The distinction amongst these systems can be seen in their main characteristics. The rational system perceives an organization as an instrument designed to achieve specific goals.
Such a system focuses on the rationalization of an organizations structure to the technical or functional behavior of the organization. As opposed to this, a natural system perceives an organization as an instrument designed in such a way that it is not restricted by the goals set by the system. Such a system focuses on the incoherence between an organization’s declared ends and the achieved ends and hence places importance on how an organization functions in such a way that it distorts its declared ends in accordance to what is achievable within a specific time-frame or setting.
In contrast to the rational and natural system, the open system perceives an organization as an entity geared towards the pragmatic achievement of its desired ends. As opposed to the two initial systems [rational and natural], the open system perceives an organization to be a highly adaptable entity that is capable of continuously changing its goals based on the immediate needs of the organization. Given that technology is continually in flux as a result of the continuous developments within it, a technological society may be said to be an open system.
The reason for this lies in the system’s malleability which is dependent upon the immediate needs of an organization. Since, the means through which one achieves one’s desired ends within a technological society may continuously change as a result of the changes in technological innovations, a technological society may be classified as an open system as its “emphasis is placed on the importance of ‘operations’, ‘controls’ and decisions centres’, as well as on the flows among them” (Strati, 2000, p. 42).
Strati, A. (2000). Theory and Method in Organizational Studies: Paradigms and Choices. London: SAGE.