Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fit, Equifinality, and Organizational Effectiveness

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Fit, Equifinality, and Organizational Effectiveness

GSL 60

Melissa Blankenship

Fit, equifinality, and organizational effectiveness A test was written by D. Harold Doty, William H. Glick and George P. Huber in the Academy of Management Journal in December 1. The research was configurational which is a relative arrangement of parts or elements, or the results from a particular arrangement of parts or components. Both theories were tested to see if in anyway equifinality could be found. Equifinality is defined as having the same affect or result from different events or conditions in which different initial conditions lead to similar effects.

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The article focused on two organizational theories of strategy, structure, and process. The first being Miles and Snow’s (178) theory based on and in-depth cross industry study of a relatively small sample of large companies. The theory that Snow and Miles developed was that there are three superior performing business types and all others were average or less than average. Miles and Snow’s theory holds that in order to be superior, there must be a clear and direct match between the organization’s mission, the organization’s strategies, and the organization’s functional strategies. These are the organization’s mission/values, their basic strategic set, and their characteristics and behaviors. Miles and Snow grouped their theory into types, which are Defenders, Prospectors, Analyzers, and Reactors. Defenders are organizations that focus on only one product or service, and ignore developments outside of its domain. Defenders are organizations that focus on only on product or service. Prospectors are organizations, which, almost continually search for market opportunities, thus causing their competitors to respond to the change that they create. Analyzers are organization’s which operate in


two types of product-market domains, one relatively stably, the other changing. Reactors are organizations in which top management perceive change and uncertainty occurring in their organization, but are unable to respond effectively. Reactors seldom make changes unless forced to do so by environmental pressures.

The second organization theory that Doty, Glick, and Huber tested was Henry Mintzberg’s Five Basic Parts of an Organization. Mintzberg grouped his theory in to parts and not into types as Miles and Snow had in their organizational theory. At the bottom of Mintzberg’s theory were the operating cores, which are the accounting, purchasing, and receivables departments with one manager. Mintzberg’s next basic part was the middle line manager, which is in charge of executing the organization’s mission. When organizations grow too large for one manager to handle all of its employee’s this created the middle line, which is the manager of managers. On each side of the Middle Line are Techno structure, which would be an organizations computer center, and Support Staff, which is an organizations Human Resources. At the top of Mintzbergs five basic Parts of an Organization was the Apex, which would be the President or CEO.

I could not find any bias on the part of the authors. The research done on the test of the two theories was followed accordingly to the structural design of research methodology.

I agree with the authors main theme of the research, whoever there was several methods used that I had a hard time understanding. When Mintzberg’s Five Basic Parts of an Organization was tested I reflected back to Dubrin when he stated that if an

organization strives to achieve their mission and goals then they must look at their structural design to determine if it is serving the organizations purpose to its fullest extent, and it must have an effective leader. DuBrin (001) described a working definition of an effective leader as an individual who through his actions with group members help attain productivity, quality, and satisfaction.

Mintzberg theory if much like the line and staff structure, which refers to the basic person boss relationship, or chain of command that extends from top to bottom of an organization On its most basic level organizational design is the design of dividing up work and assigning resources in such a way as to create value. The first component to a good organization is its most important resource, the people who make up the organization and their leadership style. However, within every organization whether formal or informal, people are still the main ingredient, and each organization has boundaries, or guidelines, that must be followed. These guidelines give structure to any organization. This structure identified how individuals were grouped into departments, and how departments fit into the organization as a whole. Organizational structure may be defined as a network of relationships that exist among various positions and position holders. Structural designs may include formal hierarchy of authority as well as rules and procedures and other planned attempts to regulate behavior. Formal structure can have a positive impact on morale when it helps us get our work done. It has a negative impact when it gets in our way or simply makes it easier for management to control us (Bolman and Deal 17). Hierarchical structures consist of vertical dimension of differentiated

levels of authority and responsibility. To determine which structure is best for an organization there are various contextual factors that help to determine which structure will work best, size of the organization, technology the organization possesses, and the environment that the organization originated. Size being the most powerful predictor of structure and formalization. Size also leads to greater difficulty for centralized control; therefore, it leads to decentralization, which needs a larger administrative staff. Organizations are also dependant on their environment. If an organization strives to achieve their mission and goals then they must look at their structural design to determine if it is serving the organizations purpose to its fullest extent.

Miles and Snow’s theory of Organizational Types was similar to that of Osland, Klob and Rubis’s (001) change process, which stated, “The first step is to determine the organization’s readiness for change. Is a change necessary and who perceives this need? (Pg 47). Osland, Kolb and Rubin used the formula C= (D x S x P) X, which explained that C=change, D=dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs or status quo, S=and identifiable and desired end state, P=a practical plan for achieving the desired end state, and X=the cost of change to the organization. Miles and Snow’s theory broke organizations into types of organizations that were either effective or less than average.

My impression of this article to the study of strategic leadership is I felt that it was very hard to understand. There may be other people in this program that could have understood this article better than I did. This is only my opinion but would not recommend this article for future MSSL classes, too much in depth mumbo jumbo for me.



Bolman, Lee G., & Deal, Terrence E. (17). Reframing Organizations Artistry, Choice

and Leadership. (nd ed.) San Francisco Jossey-Bass.

DuBrin, Andrew J. (001). Leadership Research Findings, Practices, and Skills.

Boston Massachusetts Houghton Mifflin Company.

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