Weick's Model of Organizing

Weick added his own twist the the systems design approach and applied it at the social psychological level. He first notes that it's all about organizing, not organizations -- process, not structure.

"The word, organization, is a noun and it is also a myth. If one looks for an organization one will not find it. What will be found is that there are events, linked together, that transpire within concrete walls and these sequences , their pathways, their timing, are the forms we erroneously make into substances when we talk about an organization (Weick 1974, 358).

Weick defines organizing as "the resolving of equivocality in an enacted environment by means of interlocked behaviors embedded in conditionally related process" (1969:11). Thus, organizing is about reducing equivocality (uncertainty) through information processing. This occurs through activities that are repetitive, reciprocal, contingent behaviors that develop and are maintained between two actors (Weick p. 91). The organization is "enacted" through the interpreted meaning of individual interactions.

There are two main selection processes to help individuals cope with their environment. Rules allow preset responses to standardized situations (Scott p. 91). Communication-behavior cycles are needed for more ambiguous situations that require interaction and information sharing. Once ambiguous situations may become routinized if they occur more frequently. Organizations need to find a balance between stability (through routinizing actions into rules) and flexibility (by keeping some level of equivocality in the system).

Weick has a social psychological stance that notes that individual behavior is more a function of the situation than of personal traits or role definitions. People are "loosely connected" in most organizations and have a large latitude for action.

Weick is both a natural and open theorist as he explores how individuals "organize". Weick notes that the cognitive processes individuals use in organizations involve trial and error, chance, superstitious learning, and retrospective sense-making. He doubts that evolution and adaption necessarily results in improved organizational forms.