Structural Relations in Organizations: On the Relationship Between Behavior, Belief and Formal Structure

1985| Working Paper No. 754

Research concerning organizational structure has reached an impasse. Two approaches to structure research have remained isolated despite their complementary insights and methodologies. In mainstream structure research, organizational structures have been traditionally portrayed as management control mechanisms, strategically created by top management to channel the attention, activities and beliefs of employees. Alternatives to this perspective have posited structure as emergent patterns of employee beliefs and behaviors. Defining organizational structure in terms of patterns of task and authority distribution in an organization and the formal representations of these distributions, four implicit conceptions of organizational structure official, reported, behavioral and tacit are derived from previous research, with definitions and research implications presented for each.