Formal structures in Organizations

09/12/2011 09:57

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the organizations formal structures obey the tacit principle of organization according to the documentation surrounding the organization in general. If the formal structure is presented as the main axis, according to the general theory of Directors, which covers the division of labor departments in physical and depository of information, documents, processes, production or bias.

The classical approach according to the two big names of Directors, Taylor (1966), Fayol (1968), and interpreted by Weber (1995), gives emphasis on the task, divided by this organization work, aiming to reduce the maximum time required, and especially considering the specialization of workers and simplification of the steps of each work to be performed. How was the production of the nerve center of the organization, all other sectors providing services in different ways and forms, arranged in departments, sectors, divisions, compartmentalized information.

The rationality of the system established and is recommended as industrial mass production of products or services, considering human beings only as components or inputs needed for production. But the first work published in the early 20th century, it did make clear the concern of some companies towards their employees and so become more efficient than others, by noting these differences.

The work of Elton Mayo cited in Homans (1977) describe the existence of companies with informal groups and that the motivation is exercised by other psychological factors other than those governed by the organizational structure. The author describes the existence in the American company Wester Electric Co., between 1920 and 1930, informal groups that determine the amount to be produced, not by machine capacity, but by the powers that were established through informal groups established and that would set rules of behavior of all the workers of the organization. A sort of unofficial governance dictating the rules of coexistence, production, behavior, and leadership groups.

This institutional power and unofficial beginning to gain strength in very large organizations with more than 10,000 employees, which are not organized, the employees took to himself the invisible power within the organization, including who would chose to work and who would be put to outside the organization.

Early studies of these behaviors informal dating from 1920 and 1940. Some authors such as Chaste Barnard begins working with the concept of organized groups. These studies visualize the importance of the human factor within organizations and to begin studies on leadership, conflict and decision-making processes within organizations. Since the work of Barnard (1979) in 1920, the focus of study has been the psychological and behavioral factors of the workers, the first results are beginning to glimpse the true values ​​of the organization by informal groups who are not aware that the company it.

Soon after the Second World War, the first work to emerge from more general context of the organization, is therefore called a systemic view, which would be a major revolution in how companies pursue better ratings. Until then scholars of the time worked variables separately. For example, the division of labor, business functions, human relations, and suddenly, the great expertise was able to see these variables working together and studying them in more complex habitats.

Another formal structure was observed at the time the work environment, which would be relevant from the work of Bertallanfy (1977), with its contribution to systemic view on organizations. From that moment, become relevant discussions about the power of informal organizations within companies.

More recently, Chiavenato (1982), informal organizations would define as a set of individuals, informal groups called because of its relative independence of the formal structure of the organization, since they were not perceived in the official charts of the company. These groups are defined as a spontaneous interaction between people interacting in the social organization and do not necessarily have the same chain of command and influence its members obey the group's own leaders through settling, sometimes naturally, sometimes imposed by people through coercion or repression varied.

Studies have shown that individuals are admitted to the organizations and then group, or collaborative work should exercise or affinities that bind outside the daily work. That's when the union is operating out of context that establishes the informal groups and parallel power.

Later organizations realize that these parallel powers are highly impressive in their organizations. As organizations do not control these informal groups, they are volatile, dynamic and rapidly changing its structural criteria of informal organization, its leaders may have changed all the time. Bernardes (1982) describes these groups as micro-structured societies, where people learn from each other in a considerable speed, and its participants develop feelings of identification, loyalty, reciprocity, and never achieved the enviable organizations in levels of formal enterprises.

Many companies these groups succumbed because they ignore or do not give due attention. Organizations with more than 100 years in the world today have within them another organization fueled by official organization and respected, recognized, and even endowed for it to develop its own peculiarities. A proof of this coexistence are the spaces for the groups to their hours of leisure, rest, or even for their learning.

Recent studies confirm the importance of such informal groups as well as their advantages and disadvantages. While some organizations to attribute greater importance to these groups and therefore die before their most pessimistic predictions. There are external causes or unstable economies, repressive governments, customers disappear overnight, or that the products are not suffering the correct modifications to perpetuate. What is special about the organization does not see - informal groups seize power and establish themselves breaking and tearing all the proactive initiatives of formal groups, because it would be an act of firing on their own feet. But if the strength of the groups is not included in the premises of governance, the whole process of education, training and continuing education may run into these groups and can not proceed.

But you should also consider that if the organization perceives the existence of informal groups and seeks to remove them from the comfort of informality, also end up suffering the same evil of misfortune. Informal groups do not like to appear in organizations, have no official proposals or parallel jobs, just there and live with each other through their own rules.

But how then grow the organization with the contribution of these informal groups or at least without having them against the official purposes of the company?

Grosser (1991) suggests that the survival of organizations operating in complex and turbulent environments becomes dependent on those alternative channels of communication such officers, that everyone sees, sees and believes, and uses. Through the media organization's effectiveness is possible to create an excellent resource with information and communication, however, necessarily passing through the channels of communication and information of informal groups, according to the respect and encouragement of human networks that form and stimulating learning how the organization should work with these networks, both inside and outside the organization.

Realize the existence of informal groups in Organizations

The first major purpose of organizations today is the thorough search of the informal groups to try to understand their formation, their purpose, their wills, the roles they play, and seek to serve their claims. Then get on committees, in meetings, projects established in task groups, training information, and a series of obstacles that present themselves to the challenges of organization, a natural representation of informal groups. Many companies have tried to succumb to social groups were informal and fail, along. You can not cut his own flesh without getting hurt. You must seek the best living, the best advantage, after all informal groups are made up of ourselves in different degrees of participation and different scales of power.

Realize the existence of informal groups

Once identified, community groups should participate in decision-making apparatus of the organization as a natural process of consultation. All the great moments across organizations because their solutions were asking themselves how to find out the answers to the crisis. At all levels of the organization of the presence of informal groups are exerting various roles and purposes.

To think that the decision-making processes are executed only by formal groups of the organization is at least suggest making decisions that have a high percentage of uncertainty. We must analyze all aspects of the issue when we refer to the organization's strategies as relevant issues such as production, increasing production capacity, improved technology, corporate education, organizational learning, competitive intelligence and management of all kinds. All are important in the organization, formal and informal groups, and all are integral parts of a single mesh of decision-making, continuous improvement, decision-making establishments which all respond equally to its success or disaster.

Considering the various networks of communication and information in existing organizations, all equally in importance and relevance are integral parts of questions and answers and should be incorporated in the models whether intellectual, cognitive, strategic or operational.

The formal structures of organizations are seen by customers and suppliers and its substitution rules for communication with the market and the government. But if dealing with the strategic use of information, enabling environments and tools and approaches to knowledge management, networks formed by formal and informal groups, being groups of mutual trust, learn from each other, increasing both with and feeding back information coming from the explicit knowledge but also tacit knowledge, the experiences of each individual who alone or group it belongs, plays an important, relevant, relevant, and above all an integral part of decision making in the organization's top management. The cognitive heuristics distributed by all groups in the organization is one that gives support to the wealth of innovation, exploring best performances, and their survival, both hawk, but little is observed by this bias.

We want to introduce the concepts of formal organization to create informal teams that can hear and see more emphasis on formal groups and communities of practice for this synergy and symbiosis can be developed projects and management processes in different areas of the organization. These informal times we call CLOUD GROUPWARE, which will be further explained the concept and its application within organizations.


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Chiavenato, I. Business Administration: a contingency approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982, p. 606

Fayol, H. Industrial and General Administration. London: Atlas, 1968.

Grosser, K. Human Networks in Organizational Information Processing. Annual Review of Information Scienceand Technology (ARIST), v.26, p.349-402, 1991.

Homans, G. The research at Western Electric. In DESK, Y. and Lamb, L., Human behavior in empresa.3 ed. Rio de Janeiro: FGV, P. 5-43, 1977

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