Four Types of Organizational Philosophies

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The way businesses function is almost always planned to encourage certain types of results.
The way businesses function is almost always planned to encourage certain types of results. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

All types of enterprises can be said to have "cultures," either imposed or organic, that describe how they typically function internally. The key to successful management is awareness of interpersonal dynamics and organizational values. Roger Harrison and Charles Handy, two researchers in the field of Business and Management, articulated how four of these common types operate.

Power Orientation

Also called control-based organizations, companies with a power orientation are usually centered around the authority of one or a few executives within that organization. All direction and authorization emanate from that source alone, with minimal delegation, which can sometimes lead to an organizational paralysis if the organization is large enough. This type of organization tends to discourage creativity or challenges to directives.

Role Orientation

Organizations with role-oriented structures are based around assigning specific tasks to employees and expecting consistent results with those tasks. The advantage of organizations like this is that, with proper training, employees are interchangeable. The downside of this type of organization is that it stifles collaboration and risk-taking.

Achievement Orientation

The achievement-based organization, also called a competence-based organization, rewards and encourages autonomous, self-motivated employees. There tends to be a lot of competition and jockeying in this type of organization, but managed carefully, it can be an intensely collaborative and creative organization. In this type of company, each employee is thought to represent the brand of the company and each is a key figure in the growth of that organization.

Support Orientation

Support-based organizations, also called cultivation-based organizations, focus on inspiring and encouraging their employees, with the theory that making individual employees feel valuable at every level helps the organization as a whole. One downside to this is that organizations run this way aren't task-oriented and focus more on cultivating interpersonal relationships between employees, rather than making a more efficient enterprise.

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