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The Structural Theories Lens in Organizations

Updated on July 11, 2015

Mechanistic approaches to organization work well when the workers at the bottom are not “thinking” and problem-solving, but simply doing, and allowing those at the top to think.

By answering these questions, we, as teachers, would be more aware of who those authority figures were and who to report to when a sticky situation arose. However, knowing who the authority figures are and allowing them to solve the problems in an educational environment, only increases the likelihood of problems.

According to structural theories, the workers were simply intended to be the “’hands’ or ‘manpower’: The jobs they were required to perform were simplified to the ultimate degree so that workers would be cheap, easy to train, easy to supervise, and easy to replace” (Morgan, 2006, pg. 25).

Unfortunately the educational environment does not provide positions that are easy to train for and easy to replace.

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As each teacher has approximately thirty unique individuals in his/her classroom to teach a variety of subjects, in a variety of ways, in different teaching styles to meet the needs of each student, this type of position takes a great deal of education, knowledge and training.

A teacher has such a huge influence on the lives of each student emotionally, mentally and physically, that by hiring an unqualified or under-qualified teacher, a great deal of damage can be done that will take years to repair.

This also means that the greatest strength of structural theories, being that one can repeatedly duplicate a product exactly the same in a possibly more efficient way each time, is null and void.

The culture and even the learning environment in each classroom will be completely different, and even each student will learn differently and at different speeds.


However, “when the human ‘machine’ parts are compliant and behave as they have been designed to do” (Morgan, 2006, pg. 27), an unethical or immoral administrator is more capable of accomplishing the personals goals he/she has set out to achieve.

This mechanistic approach fosters “mindless and unquestioning bureaucracy,” and the interests of those in charge tend to “take precedence over the goals the organization was designed to achieve” (pg. 28).

As Morgan (2006) considers these weaknesses, many school administrators consider them strengths and count on these characteristics to avoid responsibility, to have the appearance of success without all of the work involved, and to have a responsive team at their beck and call.

In a factory or fast-food restaurant, structural theories may be appropriate, but educational institutions definitely need a different type of organization structure in order to run “efficiently” and truly be successful.


Morgan, G. (2006). Images of organization. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

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