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Structural Design Essay

The structural design of any organization involves central issues as how the work of the organization will be divided among the employees and assigned among positions, groups, departments etc. and how the coordination among employees belonging to different groups, necessary to accomplish total organizational objectives will be achieved. Choices made about these issues are usually publicized in job descriptions and behavior in an organization is normally influenced by system variables as of technical, social, individual and organizational inputs.

Through these variables the individuals are signaled about what kind of organizational behavior is expected of them. Power can be described as a part of all organizational behavior. Using power can be valuable to individuals as a means to achieve desired actions, goals and objectives within the organization. The study of power as an organizational behavior and action activity by the management aimed at improving individual leadership and organization performance can be very effective in achieving intended goals.


All participants in management group, regardless of the kind of organization have and use power. Men and women emphasize, somehow, different ways to use power, as do subordinates when compared to their superiors or peers. Power can be used to achieve goals other than power itself. The idea of power within organization has both emotional and ethical impact as for many it carries negative connotations and some visualize it as a ‘manipulative, coercive and controlling force”.

It is right that power can be manipulative as it can be seen at workplace in behaviors such as ‘brownnosing, always saying ‘Yes’ to boss and similar diplomatic actions. However if a balanced perspective is allowed power can be seen as more positive and as ethically neutral action. The ethics of power lies not only in power but also in the motives and values of the individual using power. “Power can be used for ‘Good’ and that is specially, for developmental purposes and as for bad, that is, for personal aggrandizement as user goals and operational results achieved, not power application itself are the ethical criteria.” (McClelland, 1975)

Many theorists and researchers are coming to the point that the truly effective and most productive situation in an organization is one where its leaders and individuals can grow and develop. In such an organizational environment, there is always a chance of producing situations conductive to personal and organizational goal accomplishment.

Power can be defined as the ability to get something done the way you want it or to get someone else to do it for you. Edward J. Zore is the president of Northwestern Mutual, with assets of more than $1 billion, providing the direct individual life insurance. As one of the manager says “ Our mutuality is about the fairness and it’s about upholding strong principles. It’s about avoiding conflicts between the interests of the shareholders and customers.”

But being the head of the largest insurance provider, Edward J. Zore must deal with issues of power and politics as most managers within the organization find there are not enough resources to get things done. Power and politics are two controlling organizational tools that managers must use to get things done.

Today, in the organizational structure, the main source of power available to managers comes out of their position in an organization. In position power, managers use extrinsic as well as intrinsic rewards to control other people behavior to get intended results. The manager can also use his or her position power to threat or withhold a pay raise or transfer, demote or even the firing of his or her subordinate when the desired performance is not achieved. Position power can be enhanced when managers demonstrate their subordinates that their actions are closely related to organizational goals.

Another form of power is called legitimate power as the manager can use subordinate’s internalized beliefs and values regarding “Boss as having the right of command” to control their behavior. The ‘right to know ad use of confidential information” is often conferred on a position holder as information power may be granted to specialists, experts and managers who are the middle bone of the organizational information system. Managers guard their ‘right to know’ to influence their subordinates or they can protect information from others based on the notion that the outsiders will not understand it but the real reason behind it is often to allow information holders to increase their power.

From the crib to school, from school to work, individuals in U.S. society are taught to obey “high authority” those close to the top of corporate pyramid. But on the other hand, one can use power without destructive results to other’s self esteem. Results depend on the motives and skill of the power user. Adolf Berle (1959) said that, “Power is a refuge from chaos in that it organizes and rationalizes human behavior. Keeping this perspective in mind, it can also be concluded that power use can become critical in understanding normal group life.

All organizational members belonging to different, use power to secure their goals including leaders, supervisors and managers who are traditionally viewed as powerful people. All people within the organization control scare resources of some type in negotiating agreement among related individuals. Thus, these people belonging to management take independent action to direct organizational energies toward predetermined goals. Effective use of power, secure both organizational as well as personal goals in most organizational actions. But on the other hand, all of the individuals, most of the time, are engaged in organizational politics as they negotiate their way through their careers.

Most of the people seek a balance between what they put into an organization and what they get from it in return. Seen in this perspective, power is clearly a political activity, as within the boundaries of psychological contract, the subordinates will be ready to do things in and for the organization, which they think they should. This way, subordinates recognize the authority of the organization to direct his behavior in certain ways. It is defined as “the zone of indifference” by Chester Bernard as he says that “the subordinate is willing to response without subjecting the directives to critical evaluations or judgments as directives falling within this zone are obeyed”, whereas requests falling outside the zone of indifference are not considered ‘legitimate.

Seen in power terms, the behavioral changes leaders need to create in individuals within an organization must be capable of adapting to intense pressure placed on modern organizations. The method and skills applied in power use will determine whether or not individual leaders and organizations are effective while working from a power perspective can increase the ability of organization members as a whole to respond to a constantly changing environment.

The relative study of power and influence leads to the subject of organizational politics. Pfeffer (1981) has defined that “politics is a natural and pervasive part of organizational life and it should not be viewed as necessarily negative for organizations”. Politics can be positive in a way and is probably important for the survival of an organization and for those who operate within them. The term ‘organizational politics’ can be analyzed in two traditional ways: One defines politics in terms of self interest and the use of non-sanctioned means.

The management of influence and power obtain ends not sanctioned by the organization or through non-sanctioned influence means. And second defines “politics as a necessary function resulting from differences in the self interests of individuals.” In heterogeneous society, the interests of individuals vary and they will disagree as to whose self interests are more valuable than others. Organizational politic may arise because individuals need to develop compromises, avoid confrontations and have to live and survive together. The goals of an organization and the acceptable means of achieving them are established and finalized by organizationally powerful individuals while negotiating with others.

In this way, organizational politics can be described as “the use of power to develop socially accepted ends and means to balance and achieve individuals and collective interests.” Power is central to individual’s continuing concern for administering purposes within an organization. As how people organize and relate to each other to get intended results and goals is central to organization and administrative theory. Machiavelli The prince provides extensive advice to ruling leaders on how to extend and combine their power and capacity to direct compliance.

Managers use political behavior to maintain operations and to achieve task continuity in problematic circumstances. There is growing awareness of the importance of political strategy within an organization among managers. The absence of political strategy in some large corporations such as Microsoft and Silicon Valley and some other software firms as Microsoft’s antitrust problems were in part due to an unwillingness of Bill Gates and Steven Ballmer to consider the political ramifications of their attempts to block competitors by coercing computer manufacturers.

As the economy is being globalized and firms are moving across national boundaries, the importance of developing and implementing an effective political strategy have become more difficult and more demanding. The resource dependence of an organization increases as outsiders have more control over needed resources and only fewer options are available, thus, the political role of Chief executive is to develop more workable compromises among the competing resource dependencies facing the organization and these compromises will in turn enhance the superior’s power.

As the world is becoming globalized and the companies face a variety of changes and challenges, power and politics in an organization will have a profound impact on organizational dynamics and individual performance. These behavioral changes within an organization will decide who will survive and prosper in years to come and who will not.

Human resource management has expanded and moved beyond more mere administration of the traditional activities of employment, labor relationships, compensations and benefits. HRM is more integrated into both the management and strategic planning of any organization. Organization have undergone many structural changes that present challenges for human resource managers as they continue to face these structural changes as caused by downsizing, outsourcing, rightsizing and reengineering. But the most important challenge that needs immediate attention is how to retain good employees within an organization and to keep them motivated?

The most important approach towards retaining high potential and solid performer employees is Commitment manpower planning. This approach can be designed to get managers and their employees thinking about and involved in human resource planning. CMP provides a systematic approach to human resource planning as it generates three reports that supply information as:

  1. The constant supply of employees and the promot-ability and placement status of the organizational demands arising from new positions and turnover and projected vacancies for each job title
  2. The balance of supply versus demand including information of all those suitable for promotions and by giving them proper benefits and rewards

Q2. Compare and contrast the implications that face an International HRM, as opposed to a Domestic HRM?  Using our case study of Inter-clean, what changes will they need to consider to establish an effective global HRM?


Competition is found in every sphere of life which means that businesses in every country face real or potential competition from foreign or internationally owned subsidiaries as well as domestic firms that can be foreign owned. Prior knowledge about the international competition and competency in working with country and company cultures is the most important issue impacting the success of any international business activity.

The most important factor impacted in international organizations is the human resource function. The most difficult phase is the training of the global workforce because under the circumstances, the provision of training programs seemingly as cross cultural programs can become quite controversial among the top executives. Especially when the competition is strong and there is heavy pressure to cut the cost, training programs are among the first area that gets cut. This low priority assigned to training and development turns out to be true in international arena as it is on the domestic level.


  1. International Human Resource Management: Policies & Practices for the Global Enterprise, A book by Dennis R. Briscoe, Randall S. Schuler; Routledge, 2004. 494 pgs.
  2. HRD in Small Organisations: Research and Practice, A book by Graham Beaver, Jim Stewart; Routledge, 2004. 319 pgs.
  3. Making Sense of Organizational Change, a Book by Jean Helms Mills; Routledge, 2003. 244 pgs.
  4. Organizational Power Politics: Tactics in Organizational Leadership, Book by Gilbert W. Fairholm; Praeger Publishers, 1993. 230 pgs.
  5. Organizational Power Politics: Tactics in Organizational Leadership, Book by Gilbert W. Fairholm; Praeger Publishers, 1993. 230 pgs.
  6. OB Skills Workbook, Chapter 12, OB in Action, 291 pages

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