Structure and performance
We have also learnt and understand that technology that an organisation uses may directly influence the link between structure and performance. Therefore the structure must suit its technology in order to be successful. Woodward was also a leader in this field and she derived that “It was the complexity of the technology used that determined the structure11”. She identified three main “production systems” which correlated to the level of complexity of the technology the organisation had. High complex organisations were labelled “process” which including organisations such as oil refinery, Moderately complex organisation were labelled “Mass Production” which included organisations such as car production, whilst low complex organisations were labelled “small batch” which included organisations such craft production.
She found that most “Mass production” organisations were mechanistic in its nature, thus there was high task specialisation, strict rules and guidelines, whilst most “small batch” organisations were highly flexible in there nature, thus they were more organic in their structure. “Process” organisations were also found to be more organic, as they had to cope with uncertainty and ever changing technology.
She found that the most successful organisations within each labelled category were the organisations most typical of the characteristics found in that category ” In her view, the companies that which had an organisational structure close to the norm for that category would be more commercially successful than those organisations whose structures differentiated from it12″. Therefore again we must acknowledge that the technology within a company would affect the way the organisation is designed, thus highly technological organisations must be designed differently from low technologically developed organisations in order to be successful. Therefore again there is no one way to design an organisation, as structure should be determined by factors within it, such as differing levels of technology.
Contingency thinking has also been applied to wider aspects of management including leadership. The contingency model of leadership suggests that the successfulness of a group or an organisation it comes down to two key aspects. Firstly the personality or character of the leader and how it fits the situation “This theory holds that the effectiveness of a group depends upon the personality of the leader13”.
Secondly it is dependent upon the amount of control and influence the leader can exert over the situation and the group; therefore if he has large amounts of control the leader faces less uncertainty. Therefore we learn to understand that the way in which a leader puts himself across to his subordinates affects the success of the firm. His/Her personality is a key determinant in this success. They need to adapt to the subordinates they have within an organisation. A leader who is confident inspires confidence.
Therefore in conclusions I would like to put that contingency thinking has contributed to our knowledge of organisational design in terms of external factors to quite a large degree ” The approach has been influential in topics such as work design, leadership and, not least, organisation structuring14″. It has led us to appreciate that there isn’t always one universal solution to each managerial problem that we face, although sometimes the solutions it suggests does lead to a form of “back door universalism15”. It has expanded our vision, to look to solutions that best suit our circumstance in particular reference to size, technology and the environment. We also see more managerial ways in which contingency thinking has contributed in ways of leadership, that helps us acknowledge the aspect of people, and how workers are not all the same.
The greatest contribution is that it teaches us that all circumstances are different, there is no one-way fit, there is no one universal solution. This is especially relevant as it was found through empirical research, there for there is factual evidence to back up such theories. However there are of course negatives to any method of thinking, and contingency thinking is no different, such its apparent use of “back door universalism, and how in many circumstances multiple contingencies may contradict each other, in particular environmental contingencies. It is also relatively difficult to apply to modern day business, but despite these negatives I believe contingency thinking has played a large role in how we know management and design to be today.