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CS507 - Information Systems - Lecture Handout 04

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Unique Attributes of Organization

Organizations can be distinguished on the basis of various criteria. These are as follows.

  • Organizational structure
  • Culture of the Organizations
  • Management Style
  • Decision Making Style

Organizational Structure Pyramid/Tall/Hierarchical

Hierarchical organization

A hierarchical organization is organization structured in a way such that every entity in the organization, except one, is subordinate to a single other entity. This is the dominant mode of organization among large organizations; most corporations and governments are hierarchical organizations

  • Low number of subordinates per supervisor
  • Long chain of command
  • Greater number of levels

Hierarchical organization

Organizational Structure


Flat organization refers to an organizational structure with few or no levels of intervening management between staff and managers. The idea is that well-trained workers will be more productive when they are more directly involved in the decision making process, rather than closely supervised by many layers of management.

This structure is generally possible only in smaller organizations or individual units within larger organizations. When they reach a critical size, organizations can retain a streamlined structure but cannot keep a completely flat manager-to-staff relationship without impacting productivity. Certain financial responsibilities may also require a more traditional structure. Some theorize that flat organizations become more traditionally hierarchical when they begin to be geared towards productivity.

Following are the characteristics of a flat organization.

  • High number of subordinates per supervisor
  • Short of chain of command
  • Less number of levels
  • Eliminates middle level managers
  • Decentralizes authority to low level managers


Culture of the Organization

Organizational culture is the specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization. Organizational values are beliefs and ideas about what kinds of goals members of an organization should pursue and ideas about the appropriate kinds or standards of behavior organizational members should use to achieve these goals. From organizational values develop organizational norms, guidelines or expectations that prescribe appropriate kinds of behavior by employees in particular situations and control the behavior of organizational members towards one another.

Culture is set of Fundamental Assumptions that exist and grow with the organization. It’s not publicly announced but spoken about within the organization. It is a combination of implicit values that keep the organization together. It is essential that the employees understand the culture-What drives the organization.

Management Styles

  • Authoritative
  • Participative
  • Mixed


An Autocratic or authoritarian manager makes all the decisions, keeping the information and decision making among the senior management. Objectives and tasks are set and the workforce is expected to do exactly as required. The communication involved with this method is mainly downward, from the leader to the sub-ordinate critics such as Elton Mayo have argued that this method can lead to a decrease in motivation from the employee's point of view. The main advantage of this style is that the direction of the business will remain constant, and the decisions will all be similar, this in turn can project an image of a confident, well managed business. On the other hand, subordinates may become highly dependent upon the leaders and supervision may be needed. Decisions are taken centrally by the senior management themselves and are enforced at all levels.


In a Democratic style, the manager allows the employees to take part in decision-making: therefore everything is agreed by the majority. The communication is extensive in both directions (from subordinates to leaders and vice-versa). This style can be particularly useful when complex decisions need to be made that require a range of specialist skills: for example, when a new computerized system needs to be put in place and the upper management of the business is computer-illiterate. From the overall business's point of view, job satisfaction and quality of work will improve. However, the decision-making process is severely slowed down, and the need of a consensus may avoid taking the 'best' decision for the business.


The approach is a combination of both authoritative and participative style. Input from employees is taken and respected, final decision is taken by the senior management keeping in view the views given by the employees.

Decision Making Approach

  • Structured
    Procedures are predefined for solving routine repetitive problems
  • Non-structured
    When problems require individual judgment, evaluation and insight varying on case-to-case basis

Sources of information in Organizations

There can be sources of information both internal and external to the organization. Following is a list of important sources.

Internal External
Staff meetings Loan applications
Formal reporting systems Purchasing agreements
Project proposals Advertisement
Research results Distribution Contracts
Employee Surveys  
Persuasive interviews  

Direction of Information Flow

Direction of Information Flow

Ideal Information Network in an Organization

  • Periodically updated / continuously updated – the information should be updated so that whenever accessed, the user should be fully informed.
  • Efficient Processing – data should not be kept unprocessed for long. Timely processing helps in effective decision making.
  • Value driven – the information kept in a computerised system should add value to the user’s knowledge.
  • Audience Centred – every one should receive that part of information that is relevant to the user.


  • Availability of timely and accurate information helps in proper decision making and meeting the organizational goals.
  • Information should be tailored in accordance with the organization’s culture and structure.