Open Systems Theory the Model of Organizational Term Paper

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Open Systems Theory

The model of Organizational Development, commonly known as OD model, represents organization in a form that its overall understanding becomes easier and faster. It is a reflection of observable affairs in the organization. Burke has identified numerous ways showing the utility of organizational models (in Howard and Associates, 1994):

They lead to easy collection of brief and first hand language.

They give fairly clearer idea about the organizational behavior.

They assist in interpretation of organizational data.

They provide a base for the categorization of organization related data.

A properly selected OD model is crucial for the true diagnosis of the issue prevailing in an organization and also streamlines the analysis phase. OD Practitioner may have developed certain model for the organization on the basis of his intuition, yet the correct diagnosis is available only through the explicit model. It helps OD Practitioner collect right type of required information out of immense data available in the organization. The model eliminates the probability of data collection, relying on hunching and its analysis for themes. It provides a clear and quick idea about the key variables in particular organizational settings. The information of key variables is readily available as they have been identified and explored in the previous searches. The model helps understanding of variables' relationship with one another and enables the OD Practitioner to categorize than systematically.

Force Field Analysis

Force Field Analysis is a simple model developed in 1951 by Kurt Lewin. It focuses on analysis of the problems prevailing in the organizational settings and their resolution (French & Bell, 1995; Fuqua & Kurpius, 1993; Lewin, 1951). This is an easy model requiring no energy for its visualization. It identified two types of forces acting in the organization. The first one is; driving forces that support the change in organizational settings. Most of the times, environmental factors act as driving forces for change. The other type is of restraining forces. They are in the forms of organizational factors and combat change initiatives. Examples of restraining forces include low morale of employees and limited resources. The model begins with the identification of these two types of forces in the organizations and proceeds with their clear definition. These two steps throw light upon the organizational issues to be dealt with. Then, the OD Practitioner works on desired direction for an organization and devises the strategies and goals to adjust the equilibrium accordingly.

The focus of Forced Field Analysis is to adjust the present equilibrium according to the desired one by simultaneously working on both, driving as well as restraining forces. Driving forces are supported for escalation while restraining forces are discouraged for elimination. The change process starts with built-in social implication and understanding and lasts till the reformation of equilibrium; hence, the prevalence of disequilibrium is expected.

Leavitt's Model

After fourteen years of Lewin's Force Field Analysis, in 1965, Leavitt proposed his model that was comparatively simpler than the Lewin's model. He excluded the concepts of driving as well as restraining forces and brought in the specific categories of variables playing their role in the organization. The categorization was on the basis of task, structure, technological and human beings (Burke, in Howard, 1994; Leavitt, 1965).

Leavitt's model was similar to Lewin's model on the ground that it too recognized the relationship among variables that could either be positive (driving) or negative (restraining). It is dissimilar to Lewin's model when it comes to the impact of external environmental variables on the organizational issues and other identified variables. It also failed to determine the causality among the four categories of identified variables. It simply considered them interdependent and dynamic. It did not go in the profound analysis of the expected cause and effect relationship between these variable categories.

Likert System Analysis

Likert rejected both the ideas of Lewin's forces and Leavitt's variable categories. He came up with a new framework with identification of seven organizational dimensions and presented four management systems prevailing in the organizational settings. The management systems were devised on the basis of his identified dimensions. These dimensions include performance, motivation, interaction, control, communication, goal setting and decision making (Likert, 1967).

To add authenticity to his framework, Likert presented a survey of 43-item. It contained questions regarding the seven identified organizational dimensions. It helped Likert in determination of particular management system in particular organization. The survey helped him collect and measure the perception of all levels of employees about seven dimensions and their impact in the organization.

After Likert's framework, no significant innovation emerged in this field. However, his work was refined and updated by many scholars from time to time. The changes were to match the framework with continuously changing organizational settings and management practices. Nelson and Burns (1984) added new terminology categorizing the organizations as reactive (System 1), responsive (System 2), proactive organization (System 3), and high performing (System 4). Later on, Baker (1996) renamed these systems as per his research. He called the System 1 as "Coercive," the System 2 as "Competitive," the System 3 as "Consultative" (approximating Likert's model), and the System 4 as "Collaborative" systems or models.

Open Systems Theory

The review paper will discuss numerous OD models used in the diagnosis phase. Generally, these models are based on the theory of open systems. Hence, the brief introduction of theory of open systems is presented here. The theory is based on the concept that organizations are part of the environment and act like social systems. The environment injects certain inputs in these systems (Katz & Kahn, 1978). The social systems transform the inputs into outputs which again act as input and the cycle goes on. The outputs incorporated in the light of feedback and used as inputs are also called renewed inputs.

The OD models discussed so far highlights the impact of variables only and miss the role of feedback and external environment. It is because, that classic theories related to organizational behavior identified no factor like feedback as playing any role in this context. For reason, traditional systems are categorized as closed systems, altogether ignoring the factor of environmental impact.

Weisbord's Six-Box Model

In the literature of OD models, Weisbord (1976; as cited in Falletta, 2005) brought about a new idea of organizational life model. This model broadly includes six categories; structure of the organization, the purpose of its establishment and operation, its relationship, leadership dynamics, reward system and supportive mechanisms. The structure of the organization is either defined in terms of work activities and functions, or work units based on the specific product or project. In both cases, the teams run the show using their skills and capabilities. The interdependence of work units and workers with and within each other is elaborated in terms of relationships. Relationships also include the role and dependence of technology. The purpose of organizational establishment and operation is depicted through vision and mission. Reward systems are devised to motivate people striving for achievement of desired goals set in the light of vision and mission. They include extrinsic and intrinsic rewards alike. The leadership is responsible for creating and maintaining harmony among the other mentioned categories. The last category is of supportive systems that encompass the function of information flow, costing and budgeting, planning and controlling of organization wide activities. Weisbord also incorporates the role of external environment in his organizational life model but he does not elevate it up to the level of other categories as mentioned in boxes (Falletta, 2005).

It gives birth to a drawback in Weisbord's model that the variable of external model is not properly fitted in it. Weisbord has included it without providing any rationale and has not even explored other relationship level aspects of his mentioned boxes in the perspective of their interdependence. The flow of model is highly inconsistent with the essence of the dimensions mentioned in it. The dimensions highlight the discrepancy between the desired and actual state of affairs in the organization yet the model does not proceed with their resolution. Thus, the Weisbord's model seems evolving from the OD practices of Weisbord solely (Falletta, 2005).

The Congruence Model for Organization Analysis

The Congruence Model was proposed by Nadler-Tushman, who established it on the concepts of open systems (Katz & Kahn, 1978). It takes into consideration the levels of inputs, transforming throughputs, and explicit outputs. Considering the systems of formal as well as informal notions, the Congruence Model finds many similarities with Weisbord six-box model and Leavitt's model as well. It also resembles to modern diagnostic models prevailing in OD practices. The most common assumptions inherited in this context are mentioned below.

1. An organizations act as open social system while being part of much larger overall environment.

2. An organization is subject to change.

3. Individuals, groups and systems collectively constitute the organizational behavior.

4. Individuals, groups and systems interact with each other, being components of the organizational behavior.

The Congruence Model of Nadler-Tushman explicitly accounted for external environmental factors, historical patterns, resource utilization and constraints and various…[continue]

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