Loose Coupling

Weick (1976) notes that more loosely-coupled organizations offer advantages in complex environments. More autonomous groups may be more sensitive to environmental change, and offers more simultaneously adaptation to conflicting demands at the institutional level. If problems develop in one part of the system, it can be sealed off from the rest of the system. The resulting total system may be more stable when loosely-coupled. Allowing local organizations to adapt to local environments can reduce coordination costs for the whole system.

Tight vs Loose Coupling
"Much of what passes for organizational structure consists of varying types of mechanisms for controlling the behavior of participants" (Scott p. 278). Many perspectives of organizational structure (mostly rational) emphasize tight coupling between managers and subordinates. But natural systems perspectives point out that it's hard to observe these tight couplings in real organizations, and find that employees resist close supervision.

But all formal structures do not imply tight coupling. Some rational mechanisms like decentralization, delegation, professionalization are methods to build some looseness and flexibility into organizational structures (Scott p. 278). Often managers do not have the basic understanding to closely supervise specialized employees. Meyer and Rowan (1977) take this further and argue that often the peripheral activities are sometimes ceremonialized for external legitimacy purposes and are loosely coupled to the technical core, because they do not offer consistent guidelines to manage it. This decoupling is particularily useful when there are conflicting demands by the environment. Meyer (1979) points out that structural changes are often signals to external constituencies of organizational commitment regardless as to whether the new structure is effective or implemented. These institutional theorists that often structure has meaning and importance regardless of whether they affect the behavior of performers in the technical core (Scott p. 280).