A pioneer of the rational model of organization was Frederick Taylor. Taylor's background in engineering prompted his organizational focus on efficiency. In his view, there was only one way to perform a task — the way that accomplished the task in the least amount of time. Tasks were timed and employee’s work was gauged for efficiency. He suggested that organizational tasks could become more efficient if scientific principles were applied. At the time Frederick Taylor developed this theory, he may have been correct.
Scientific management can work, but it is not without problems. The main problem is that workers are simply regarded as replaceable parts in the organizational machine. In addition, the rational model of organization presupposes that the rational assessment of information alone can determine and organization's needs and goals, and control external influences. This may true in some situations, but is not comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of that affect organizational analysis and planning.
The rational model assumes that errors in judgment arise from ignorance and/or lack of information. This model treats organizations as purely mechanical systems and that all parts within can simply be modified and manipulated through deliberate effort in order to improve the efficiency of the entire organization. This is a simplistic view of an organization that almost completely ignores the impact of human interaction within, and on, an organization. Controlled and planned modification is brought about in order to achieve definite goals.
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The rational model corresponds to the pyramidal structure, in which top managers are at the apex and employees are at the bottom. Managers possess the authority in this model, defining and assigning tasks to the employees, who are expected to complete tasks in a specific way, within a specific time. Employees are given clear and detailed instructions. Achievement is evaluated by managers who reward or punish employees based on their individual performance.
This model accepts the premise that worker motivation is directly proportional to economic rewards and various punishments. Hence, according to this model, managers rely on wages and related forms of compensation to motivate workers to complete their tasks efficiently and assist in achieving company goals. This assumption is flawed by the very reason that there are many motivators other than money, there can be many ways to perform a given task, and there are many organizational goals that are not rational.
Unlike the rational model of organization, the natural system model sees the modification of an organization as unplanned and purely adaptive reactions to unstable conditions that may threaten the equilibrium and sustainability of the organization as a whole. Change is a defense mechanism that only responds when it feels threatened by potentially disruptive events and activities. The organization is regarded as an interconnected and interdependent organism. Consequently, changes in one part of the organization have an impact on all other parts of the organization.
Planning needs to be comprehensive and systematic in order to maintain equilibrium. Members may belong to more than one work group within the organization. They link the different units of the organization together and facilitate communication and the exchange of information throughout the organization. In practical terms, the natural system model strives to balance the needs of all its stakeholders. Change can invariably only take place with the involvement of each member of the organization. Therefore, theoretically, commitment to change is greatly increased and conflict over change is limited.
Natural systems organizations as well as individual actions within the organization are not shaped by formal roles and rules. Some natural organizations actively seek to remove formalization or avoid goal setting. Members share a common interest in the survival of the organization and engage in relatively spontaneous and unstructured ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. Goal-setting is important, however, natural system analysis focuses more on the motivational properties of goals. Goals serve as a source of identification and motivation for participants.
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