Chapter 3: Organizations as Natural Systems
The natural system perspective largely developed from critical reactions
to the rational system theorists. Natural theorists point out that the definining
characteristics of organizations stressed by the rationalists are often
not the most important features of organizational dynamics. They focus more
on organization behavior and implementation than on decision-making.
Natural theorists claim that "the specific output goals of organizations
are often undermined or distorted by energies devoted to the pursuit of
system goals, chief among which is the concern to survive" (Scott p.
73). There are several reasons why
both rational and natural perspectives evolved and are so different.
There were four main schools in the natural system perspective:
Mayo and the Human Relations
Barnard's Conception of Cooperation
Selznick's Institutional Approach
Parson's Social System Model
Two major differences between rational and natural systems theories concerned
the importance of goal complexity
and informal structures. Often
there are multiple goals in organizations that are complex and conflictory,
and sometimes the informal social structures are more important than formal
ones in understanding and predicting organizational behavior.