organizational analysisthe analysis and comparison of ORGANIZATIONS, especially their structure and the processes of decisionmaking within them. It is thus concerned with JOB DESIGN and the way work is organized (see WORK ORGANIZATION) in an organization. The body of knowledge on this subject is known as organization theory Initially, theories in this area were concerned with developing universal principles of MANAGEMENT and organization structure, such as the optimum number of subordinates a manager should oversee (see CLASSICAL MANAGEMENT THEORY, SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT). Later analysts became aware of the differences between organizations. CONTINGENCY THEORY explores these differences, the reasons for them and the impact on performance (see also MECHANISTIC AND ORGANISMIC ORGANIZATIONS).
In recent years organizational analysis has been much concerned with decisionmaking processes in organizations. Researchers have investigated the types of decision that are taken by top managers and how the decisions are taken (for example by individuals or committee). There is considerable evidence that decisions are often not the outcome of a rational process of investigation and consideration but instead are substantially influenced by political processes within the organization. A further limit on rationality is the difficulty of obtaining sufficient information to make optimal decisions (see SATISFICE). As a result decision-making rarely occurs in the preplanned, rational way suggested in some of the literature on BUSINESS STRATEGY. Instead the parameters of the decision may change during the decision-making process. Much decision-making may be characterized as ‘muddling through’.