Organizational structure refers to the way that an organization arranges people and jobs so that its work can be performed and its goals can be met. When a work group is very small, and face-to-face communication is frequent, formal structure may be unnecessary, but in a larger organization decisions have to be made about the delegation of various tasks. Thus, procedures are established that assign responsibilities for various functions. It is these decisions that determine the organizational structure.
In an organization of any size or complexity, employees' responsibilities typically are defined by what they do, who they report to, and for managers, who reports to them. Over time these definitions are assigned to positions in the
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At the beginning of the twentieth century the United States business sector was thriving. Industry was shifting from job-shop manufacturing to mass production, and thinkers like Frederick Taylor in the United States and Henri Fayol in France studied the new systems and developed principles to determine how to structure organizations for the greatest efficiency and productivity, which in their view was very much like a machine. Even before this, German sociologist and engineer Max Weber had concluded that when societies embrace capitalism, bureaucracy is the inevitable result. Yet, because his writings were not translated into English until 1949, Weber's work had little influence on American management practice until the middle of the twentieth century.
Management thought during this period did match Weber's ideas of bureaucracy, where power is ascribed to positions rather than to the individuals holding those positions. It also was influenced by Taylor's scientific management, or the “one best way” to accomplish a task using scientifically-determined studies of time and motion. Also influential were Fayol's ideas of invoking unity within the chain-of-command, authority, discipline, task specialization, and other aspects of organizational power and job separation. This created the context for vertically-structured organizations characterized by distinct job classifications and