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What Is an Internal Organizational Structure?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2014
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An internal organizational structure is the particular manner in which an organization such as a business, charity group, or school is arranged in order to achieve its goals. This organizational structure includes the assignment of tasks, supervision structure, hierarchy, and other concerns affecting the manner in which the organization runs. It may vary based on the nature and goals of the organization and may also differ based on the preferences and ideals of those in charge. One internal organizational structural system, for instance, may be based on a strict hierarchical control structure while another may involve far less supervision. The goal of the first is likely stability and efficiency while the second likely places emphasis on creativity and flexibility.

The internal organizational structure of most organizations is based primarily in arrangement and grouping of personnel to accomplish tasks. A strongly hierarchical structure, for instance, is characterized by "ranks" in which superiors direct the actions of their subordinates toward the goals of the company. Individuals of higher rank supervise and assign tasks to their subordinates. This structure supports the primary manner in which tasks that ultimately contribute to the goals of the business are accomplished.

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Some organizations have departments that are specifically dedicated to maintaining and enforcing the internal organizational structure by providing additional employee supervision and by keeping track of tasks that are not directly related to the goals of the company. A human resources department or a payroll department, for instance, may not directly contribute to the productivity of a factory, but they do help to keep the internal organization system working smoothly. Such departments can handle important logistical concerns so those who are directly engaged in maintaining or improving the productivity of a given endeavor are not distracted by them.

Many different forms of internal organizational structure other than hierarchical organization have proven to be quite effective for accomplishing a variety of different institutional goals. Some organizations, for instance, are based on small "teams" that have a substantial degree of autonomy and are not constantly required to report to a superior. Some even allow for a great deal of personal autonomy, though some degree of accountability is almost always necessary. The Internet has allowed for the development of organizational structures that primarily exist online. In general, the best organizational structures are based primarily in the objectives of the organization.

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