An organisation (or organization – see spelling differences) is a social entity that has a collective goal and is linked to an external environment. The word is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon which means "organ" – a compartment for a particular task.
There are a variety of legal types of organisations, including corporations, governments, non-governmental organisations, international organisations, armed forces, charities, not-for-profit corporations, partnerships, co-operatives, and universities. A hybrid organisation is a body that operates in both the public sector and the private sector simultaneously, fulfilling public duties and developing commercial market activities.
In the social sciences, organisations are the object of analysis for a number of disciplines, such as sociology, economics, political science, psychology, management, and organisational communication. The broader analysis of organisations is commonly referred to as organisational structure, organisational studies, organisational behaviour, or organisation analysis. A number of different perspectives exist, some of which are compatible:
- From a process-related perspective, an organisation is viewed as an entity is being (re-)organized, and the focus is on the organisation as a set of tasks or actions.
- From a functional perspective, the focus is on how entities like businesses or state authorities are used.
- From an institutional perspective, an organisation is viewed as a purposeful structure within a social context.
Sociology can be defined as the science of the institutions of modernity; specific institutions serve a function, akin to the individual organs of a coherent body. In the social and political sciences in general, an "organisation" may be more loosely understood as the planned, coordinated and purposeful action of human beings working through collective action to reach a common goal or construct a tangible product. This action is usually framed by formal membership and form (institutional rules). Sociology distinguishes the term organisation into planned formal and unplanned informal (i.e. spontaneously formed) organizations. Sociology analyses organisations in the first line from an institutional perspective. In this sense, organisation is a permanent arrangement of elements. These elements and their actions are determined by rules so that a certain task can be fulfilled through a system of coordinated division of labour.
Economic approaches to organisations also take the division of labour as a starting point. The division of labour allows for (economies of) specialisation. Increasing specialization necessitates coordination. From an economic point of view, markets and organizations are alternative coordination mechanisms for the execution of transactions.
An organisation is defined by the elements that are part of it (who belongs to the organisation and who does not?), its communication (which elements communicate and how do they communicate?), its autonomy (which changes are executed autonomously by the organisation or its elements?), and its rules of action compared to outside events (what causes an organisation to act as a collective actor?).
By coordinated and planned cooperation of the elements, the organisation is able to solve tasks that lie beyond the abilities of the single elements. The price paid by the elements is the limitation of the degrees of freedom of the elements. Advantages of organisations are enhancement (more of the same), addition (combination of different features) and extension. Disadvantages can be inertness (through co-ordination) and loss of interaction.
Famous quotes containing the word organization:
“Science, unguided by a higher abstract principle, freely hands over its secrets to a vastly developed and commercially inspired technology, and the latter, even less restrained by a supreme culture saving principle, with the means of science creates all the instruments of power demanded from it by the organization of Might.”
—Johan Huizinga (18721945)
“Politics, as a practise, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”
—Henry Brooks Adams (18381918)
“To fight oppression, and to work as best we can for a sane organization of society, we do not have to abandon the state of mind of freedom. If we do that we are letting the same thuggery in by the back door that we are fighting off in front of the house.”
—John Dos Passos (18961970)