6 Organization as Machine
Organization as Machine
Hunter, K. (2015, January 09). Welcome to the Participation Age. Retrieved November 10, 2020,
What is an Organization as a Machine?
An organization drifting into a mechanistic model of operation with a profound sense of order, control, logic, and reason
Machines are made up of components with specific roles that contribute to the totality of the operation process. In essence, each part of the machine is vital to its productivity. Let’s think about a machine as if it’s a car. The goal of any car is to transport people or goods from one location to another. To achieve this objective, a car has to be composed of exclusive parts with specialized roles—an engine to provide mechanical power, wheels that allow the car to move, headlights that illuminate the path ahead, and so much more. What’s notable about this analogy is that a car declines in performance if any of its parts don’t function properly. A car simply can’t achieve transportation if one of its wheels are flat, or if the engine refuses to burn fuel. Each malfunctioning part of a car needs to be fixed or replaced, or else it decreases in value and productivity. The same logic can be applied to organizations that operate as machines; its fundamental nature is intended to be systematic, highly efficient, and objective-oriented (Morgan 2006). Organizations that adopt a mechanistic approach revolve around routinization and orderly connections between its defined parts.
An organization that utilizes a mechanistic model relies on the centralization of power. In fact, authoritarian leadership is viewed as exceptional and necessary for this organization to operate efficiently. Centralized power within mechanistic organizations often lends itself to the formation of hierarchical positions (Figure 1). Decisions are typically made at the top of the hierarchy by chief executive officers (CEOs) and then are communicated down to laborers and manufacturers at the bottom. The top-down authority model embedded within mechanistic organizations also contributes to the standardization and replaceability of lower-ranking positions. CEOs and other decision-making roles are often less replaceable and harder to obtain than labor-intensive and manufacturing jobs that make up the majority of an organization.
(Insert question: “What are some examples of mechanistic organizations in your life?” *have them list examples)
What are some examples of organizations you know of that may be representing this metaphor?
Organizations, especially corporate, foster one goal: Please the consumer. For example, Amazon, one of the largest corporations, claims it will do absolutely everything in its power to ensure their customers are happy. Unfortunately, the truth is… A Lot of customers are happy with companies like Amazon, Apple, Nike, etc. Yet,
People do not know what is going on through their day-to-day operations and the work-life of their employees.
A simple understanding of Organizations as Machines is seen through Amazon Warehouses. To begin with, sixty-six percent of 145 workers surveyed at an Amazon Warehouse reported severe physical pain during work duties (Campbell 2018). This is due to constant work and little break. At a typical job, an individual is able to rest for at least 30 seconds during work shifts, but amazon requires warehouse employees to package four online orders every minute. But the trouble arrives when Amazon announces “Same Day Shipping.” Of course, as consumers, we love this, but as an employee, it means another dreading of an intense NON STOP work shift.
“Employees are frequently trained to interact with sutlers according to a detailed code of instructions and are monitored in their performance. Even the most casual smile, greetings, comments, or suggestion by a sales assistant is often programmed by company policy and rehearsed to produce authentic results” (13 Morgan).
The idea of an organization of a machine is executives and investors of organizations expect employees to perform at a level of no emotion and a high sense of control.
There was a clear starting point, it was born out of the industrial revolution. These machines changed society, efficiency, and way of life.
Machines created efficiency and society believed workers can be a part of that change…in turn act like machines, or force them to. Machines have the ability to quantify things and make them more objective, people are now quantified and even worse, work defines a human