The Characteristics and Nature of Organisations

THE CHARACTERISTICS AND NATURE OF ORGANISATIONS LEARNING OBJECTIVES: on completion of this topic you will have: Developed understanding of the nature and characteristics of organisations Identified generic organisational features An understanding of the different types of organisations An understanding of the role of the organisation as a ‘goals-led, open system’ An appreciation of environmental impacts on organisations Developed understanding of the process of organising Be able to distinguish between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ organisation Introduction
Organisations, or more simply, organised activities, are a central feature of every aspect of life. Indeed, it is extremely difficult – if not impossible! – to conceive of any activity which does not involve the input of one or more organisations at some or other stage. Think for a moment – most of us, for example, were born in hospitals, live in a family or other social unit, attend or have attended educational institutions, and have found, or seek, employment with an organisation. Small wonder, then, that the study of organisations has attracted so much attention over the years!
Every organisation differs – in terms of nature, purpose, size, goals and objectives, membership – and so on (the list is almost endless! ). However, a number of core features and characteristics of organisational life can be identified. These form the focus for the discussions within this chapter. Organisations also form the context for all management activity – in fact, it could be argued that one of the main reasons why we need managers is the fact that we engage in so much organised activity. So an understanding of the nature, type and purpose of organisations is an essential prerequisite in order to manage effectively and efficiently.

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