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A Task Contingent Model Of Work-Unit Structure.

A. V. D. Ven, André L. Delbecq
Published 1974 · Psychology

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The authors are grateful for support of this research from the Wisconsin Employment Security Division, Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations, and the Center for Business and Economic Research, Graduate School of Business Administration, Kent State University. Appreciation is also extended to Elmer Burack, Anant Negandhi, Johannes Pennings, Richard Schoenherr, and Joseph Schwitter for helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper. A model for explaining structural variations between work units within the complex organization is presented. Based upon an analysis of the impact of task difficulty and task variability on intraorganizational structure, a taxonomy of alternative work-unit structures is derived. The taxonomy suggests that work units within a complex organization can be classified into three basic structural modes: (1 ) a systematized mode, (2) a service mode, and (3) a group mode; with variations in each mode. However, the structural distinction between modes is one of kind or "type," while the distinctions within modes is one of degree. Data on 120 work units within a large government employment-security agency are presented. Empirical support was found for the taxonomy. The work units sampled at six different levels of structure did discriminate empirically on the bases of task difficulty and variability using a fixed-effects model, and were shown to fit in different cells of the taxonomy as predicted.
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