The Organization as a System

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The organizational culture and its structure can impact employee attitudes and behavior. The organization is a system. Systems are composed of many subsystems and the dynamics that take place in one of them will have an impact on the others. Therefore, if human beings are part of the organization, and the organization is a system, then the structure of the organization will have an impact on them. This article will focus on the relationship of the organization as a system and its impact on employee attitudes and behavior.

The world of globalized business requires more flexibility and agility from the organization. The structure that the organization acquires will depend on its strategy, its size, its technology and its external environment. Large companies that operate in environments with much competition need structures that can respond quickly, if not they will be put out of business. On the other hand, high operational costs have led many companies to outsource many of their services and retaining only the core business. This type of structure known as a virtual organization gives the organization access to more affordable and experienced resources without having to administer them.

Studies conducted on the impact that the organizational structure have on its members suggests that one cannot generalize. There are people who prefer to work with autonomy and freedom while others prefer structure and well-defined procedures. Although the overall evidence tends to indicate that specialized work contributes to greater productivity but to less job satisfaction, the reality is that there are individual and cultural differences. There are people who like to work in teams and are very productive, and then there are people who are unhappy working with others but enjoy working alone and can be very productive.

Organizational culture refers to a set of key characteristics that are shared by its population and that set them apart from other organizations. Some of them are: (1) innovation and takes risk, (2) attention to details, (3) the results orientation (4) orientation to the people (5) guidance teams work, (6) aggressiveness and (7) stability. These characteristics will have an impact on the attitude and behavior of employees since it dictates the expectations of the organization. If the person likes to take risks, and the organization values that than the employee will be seen as one who meets expectations. Conversely, if the person is cautious, conscientious and does not like taking risks they will be seen as not meeting expectations. Each culture will attract people with similar types of characteristics while those who do not them and are within the organization will be forced to change or will eventually leave (voluntarily or involuntarily).

If the structure and the organizational culture impact employee attitudes and behavior, then it is necessary to select candidates whose characteristics fit with the requirements of the system. The selection process is extremely important to ensure that the candidates chosen not only comply with the technical requirements necessary to carry out the job functions but it is important to take into consideration the characteristics necessary to function with the structure and culture of the organization. Because of this, sometimes it is preferable, to some extent, to give more emphasis to those characteristics than to their expertise. This is so because it is easier to learn skills than to learn to take risks, innovate, attention to detail, develop orientation towards people, teamwork and be aggressive. If new candidates bring these characteristics with them, it will be easier for the employee to fit into the work environment and behave according to expectations.

In conclusion, the organizational structure and culture will have an impact on employee attitudes and employee behavior. It is important that organizational policies and practices are aligned with the structure and culture of the organization so that it can function efficiently and be effective. By aligning employee’s affinity with the organization as expressed by its structure and culture one will have a workforce that can identify with and be committed to the company.



Ott, S., Parkers, S.J. & Simpson, R.B. (2003). Classical readings in organizational behavior.

Wadsworgh (Thomson Learning). 4th Edition.

Robbins, S.P. & Judge O.B. (2007). Organizational Behavior. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice

Hall. 12th Edition.

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