Can an organization's structure be changed quickly? 

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No, an organization’s structure cannot be changed quickly. Structure defines the chain of command or how different roles and responsibilities are supposed to be carried out to achieve the firm’s goals. Since employees often get attached to their tasks and duties, they need time to adjust to a new organizational structure.

An organization must change its structure if it wants to remain competitive. Change helps the firm adapt to new technology and operational trends. In the twentieth century, most organizations used a hierarchical structure because it was convenient and easy to understand. Everyone knew that top management decided on the direction of the business, and all they had to do was follow instructions. Fast forward to 2019, and you will find most organizations have a more team-based structure. People from different departments work together on projects and exchange ideas. Even old organizations like Coca-Cola and Unilever have had to change their structure to suit the needs of an ever-changing market and industry.

These organizations didn’t change their structure overnight. There were consultations between different stakeholders to find the right system. The employees were told about the changes beforehand and given a chance to express their opinions and concerns. Involving everyone in the change process helps to make the transition easier by reducing resistance.

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Other educators have pointed out that a lot of an organization's ability to change quickly depends on size, which is a major consideration when answering this question. There are also other factors to consider, such as the nature/funding requirements of the organization and the organization's work culture.

Some organizations, large or small, have stable funding through reliable profits, private investors, endowments, or other means. These are often for-profit organizations, though not always. Other organizations, such as many non-profits, rely on more short-term funding sources such as grants that must be re-applied for anywhere from every six months to five or ten years. There are also for-profit organizations that are just getting off the ground that might have variable or shorter-term funding sources. In organizations such as these, there may be an expectation that the work will change slightly depending on what the funders are looking for. While these aren't always structural changes, it is possible that an organization would need to apply for funding and go through huge shifts in organizational structure in order to get that funding. If an organization is already accustomed to making smaller changes, this might be able to happen more quickly than in an organization which is used to a stable funding source without changing outcome requirements.

Another factor to consider is both work culture and turnover rate. If there is a work culture where people have been doing the same job for a long time, it will take time to retrain them and get them accustomed to the new structure no matter the size of the organization. However, in a work culture where there is high turnover, such as in the food industry, it would be possible to make faster structural changes because new people are already being trained frequently.

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An organization's structure can change relatively quickly depending upon its size. Smaller companies can change more quickly, as there are less employees to reorganize. Another factor is the relative age of the company. Many people who work for startups understand and even expect some organizational shifts, either at the management level or even with the company's goals. Sometimes when managers have been with a company for a long time, they are less willing to embrace change, and this could be a handicap in changing the organizational structure.

Another factor is the quality of the employees. If the employees are cross-trained in another area, then they can be switched to that field as their previous field is phased out of the company. The rapidity of change is also based on a company's willingness to take risks. Some companies do not wish to change their structure quickly for fear of scaring shareholders and causing their stock prices to drop.

Another factor to consider is the company's available capital. Can the company invest in new technology that would allow it to change at the organizational level? This question should be considered when evaluating how quickly a company can change.

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The larger an organization is, the harder it is to effectively change its structure.  Of course, the basic structure can be easily changed by doing nothing more than putting out a new organizational chart and giving people new titles.  But that sort of change is merely cosmetic.

A big organization is hard to change in any meaningful way.  The employees of the organization get used to doing things in a particular way.  Habits are formed that are geared toward working in the existing structure.  When structural change is attempted, the employees have to adjust their expectations and habits.  This takes time.

In a smaller organization, rapid change is somewhat easier.  This is true simply because there are fewer employees.  Fewer changes need to be made to employees' habits.  Therefore, it is possible for change to occur more rapidly.

The general answer to this is that the larger an organization, the harder it is to change its structure.  The reason for this is that the organization must generally keep one producing whatever it makes even as it restructures.  It cannot simply shut down for as long as it takes to change the organization.  This means that the organization must change gradually.  If it changes too fast, its operations will be thrown into chaos because no one will know how to operate in the new system.  Instead, the organization must change relatively slowly so that its members can get accustomed to the changes and can keep producing as the changes occur.

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Should an organization's structure change quickly?

The structure of an organization defines the hierarchy, or chain of command within the organization, based on, for instance, the job functions of its employees or the product types offered. It is visually represented via an organizational chart, which explains the duties, responsibilities, and relationships between employees working in the organization.

An organization can want to change due to various reasons, for instance, acquisition of new partners, change in product lines, business expansion, new target markets or even entrance of new competitors in the market.

The structure of an organization as such depends on the requirements and objectives of the business. However, changes in organizational structure further depend on the type of structure in place. For instance, businesses that specialize in a core product whose specifications rarely change can make use of a functional structure where employees are grouped together according to their specific skills or functions. However, this type of structure does not allow quick changes to its operations. It reacts slowly to new emerging opportunities, unlike, say, the flat organizational structure, mostly found in small startups, where there is easier communication due to fewer layers of management, hence increased flexibility. Consider another case involving a big business that is spread over multiple locations and engaged in a field where market needs are constantly changing. Because of the size of the business and its dynamic nature, the functional structure wouldn’t suit it, neither would the flat one, as the business requires functional units that can allow employee specialization in given areas. A possible structure would be the matrix one, which offers flexibility and some qualities of a functional structure too.

We can, therefore, say that structural changes in an organization should be expected. However, these changes mostly take place gradually over a given period of time. Depending on the structure already in place, changes can be either fast or slow as different structures respond differently to changes. Some structures, such as the functional structure, are less dynamic and take longer to adapt to change.

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