According to Burton, Obel and DeSanctis (2011) organizational design refers to a formal, deliberate and guided process of configuring processes, structures, people practices, and reward systems in an attempt to achieve organizational strategies. Organizational design assists workers in working effectively and productively.
An organizational design reflects the nature or flow of work in an organization, as well as means and ways that employees use to interact (Tony, 2010). Implementing, a well established organizational design, creates an effective work flow, provides an alignment throughout the broader organization and enables employee’s performance (Burton, Obel and DeSanctis, 2011). An organization’s structure plays a crucial in organizational design as it determines how work is divided, the interaction procedures, and the extent or nature of work supervision required.
A poorly defined organizational design creates frustrations among workers and to external stakeholders of an organization. It results into confusion among workers, lack of coordination, slow decision making process, and failure to initiate or share ideas (Cichocki and Irwin, 2011). In most cases, the management is oblivious of these issues, and some of them pass them off as development opportunities or worse still as challenges.
Differences between organizational designs of small and large criminal organizations.
Law enforcement agencies such as criminal organizations require highly structured and defined charts, which describe the roles accompanying the positions set forth (Tony, 2010). Some arguments highlight the need for a criminal organization’s designs as the officers encounter massive amounts of accountability and liabilities that accompany incidents.
Small criminal organizations have designs that are necessarily flat (Braithwaite, 2002). This is mainly due to their relatively small size of the workforce that makes decision making centralized, increase individual responsibility and ease communication. In a small criminal organization communication is handled in person; the officers communicate amongst themselves, and interact directly with the offenders and the management (Burton, Obel and DeSanctis, 2011).
According to Cichocki and Irwin (2011), large criminal organizations require enhanced communication networks, participation, and high standards of decision making processes, and enhanced ethical leadership. This is due to the complexity in their management systems. Such organizations require a decentralized form of organizational structure where roles are shared amongst the managers and officers.
Decentralization allows individual responsibility in various criminal departments allows sharing of ideas and improves decision making amongst the various departments (Burton, Obel and DeSanctis, 2011). High ranked officials in criminal organizations delegate duties and responsibilities to lower-level officers, and this ensures flow of operations. This is contrary to small criminal organizations where delegation of roles is a challenge as officials have to multi-task in fulfillment of the expectations of the organization.
Promotion and assessment processes also differ between small and large criminal organizations. This is in relation to the difference on the available resources and the number of employees in these organizations. Most large criminal organizations employ a procedure that involves oral and written examinations, psychological and physical tests, and performance evaluations in promotion and assessment evaluations. However, this can prove to be an extremely expensive exercise in small organizations as most of them rely on years of service as performance evaluation measures (Tony, 2010).
Need for formalization in large organizations.
Formalization refers to the extent to which organization’s policies, job descriptions, procedures, and rules are highlighted and explicitly articulated (Burton, Obel and DeSanctis, 2011). Large organizations tend to be complex and require structures that assist in governing productivity, decision making and control of employee ethics and behavior. Formalizing such organizations, involve writing down rules and regulations governing employees’ expectations and behavior. This makes employee behavior predictable, and acts as a point of reference whenever problematic issues arise.
Large organizations are embedded in institutional environments, which include differences in beliefs and control systems. Such organizations are independent and embedded in these institutional environments, and also dependent on the legitimacy that the environments grant them. This implies the need for a process that provides rational means intended to assist in achieving organizational goals (Burton, Obel and DeSanctis, 2011). According to institutional theory, an organization’s formal structure is not only determined by technical requirements but also by institutional environment. To avoid conflicts of these environments, therefore, there is the need for formalization (Tony, 2010). Small organizations may have limited conflicts as not as many differences may arise as in large institutions and hence lack of formalization.
The size of an organization determines in a large scope the need to adopt formalized or institutional practices. As larger organizations are observed by several external claimant groups, they are more likely to conform to formalized expectations than small organizations. Moreover, the existence of different professional backgrounds required to run large organizations also identify as a factor for probability of a large organization to be formalized.
The influence of networks and interaction levels in large organizations also explain why large organizations tend to be more formalized than in small organizations (Braithwaite, 2002). Information in large organizations flows through the management and social networks between different departments. This creates pressure on such organizations to conform to institutionalized expectations so that the flow of such information is constrained to organizational expectations. This is contrary to small organizations where information from the management can be passed through meetings or facial interactions.
Large organizations require regular replacements so that employees’ capabilities can be determined, and for specialization purposes. This requires a process of succession so that the replacement procedure does not affect, in any way, the organization’s functioning (Tony, 2010). This implies the need for a formalized policy in the succession platform so that all workers are included and have the opportunity to raise their views.
Large criminal justice and simple structure.
Large criminal organizations are marked with differences in professional requirements, beliefs, networks, and values, which push the need for formalization (Cichocki and Irwin, 2011). Simplifying such structures into organizational forms where owners or managers make all decisions and monitor activities may, therefore, imply lost opportunities and mismanagement.
In a simplified structure decisions are made faster than in a formalized or functionalized structure. The owner of such an organization is aware of all happenings in the institution and makes decisions based on what is considered best for the organizations. Most of the criminal justice organizations are government owned. This implies that they are managed at different levels be it socially, financially or in the jurisdiction system (Braithwaite, 2002). Making decisions for such organizations require ideas from different perspectives though with an aim of betterment of the system.
Large criminal organizations cannot use simplified structures. This is mainly because workers are denied the rights to take part in the decision making processes. Additionally, such organizations have a variety of departments inclusive of crime investigations, detaining the criminals, shelter provision, psychological and motivational segments, and the judicial procedures among many.
Braithwaite (2002) indicates that how work is done in such an organization, the processes, sharing of information and how workers are incentivized directly affect its performance. Simplifying such a structure so that all decisions are made by an individual may imply that some requirements of performance may not be met. There would be the lack of planning and intervention in such an organization rendering some departments inactive or underperforming.
Braithwaite, J. (2002). Restorative justice and Responsive regulation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burton, R. M., Obel, B., & DeSanctis, G. (2011). Organizational design: A step-by-step approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cichocki, P., & Irwin, C. (2011). Organization design: A guide to building effective organizations. London: Kogan Page.
Tony, J. (2010). Reshaping crisis management: The challenge of Organizational Design. Organization Development Journal, Vol. 28, (1)