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The restructuring of the Open Learning Agency: a predictive analysis Nielsen, Mark L. 1992

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We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY F BRITISH COLUMBIATHE RESTRUCTURING OF THE OPEN LEARNING AGENCY:A PREDICTIVE ANALYSISbyMARK LEO NIELSENB.Sc., University of Calgary, 1974A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESDepartment of Administrative, Adult and Higher EducationDecember, 1992© Mark Leo Nielsen, 1992In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.Department of ^Adothsistraille, Aohat^Fissile. edttedirwThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate^92.12.12,DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis paper presents a case study and analysis of changes in the organizational structure of theOpen Learning Agency (OLA) of British Columbia in 1992. Under the aegis of the Ministry ofAdvanced Education, Technology and Training, the Agency carries a five-fold mandate - incollaboration with universities, institutions, boards of school trustees and other agenciesconcerned with education, OLA is to: provide an educational credit bank for students;coordinate the development of open learning education; use open learning methods to provideeducational programs and services; carry out research related to open learning education; andoperate one or more broadcasting undertakings devoted primarily to the field of educationalbroadcasting.The central question of the paper is: How will OLA restructure to achieve its mandate andstrategic direction? In particular, the paper examines the Agency's structure prior toreorganization, the internal and external forces acting upon it as seen through the eyes of itsexecutive members and the key issues facing the organization, including the reasons whichprecipitated a review of the organizational structure in 1991. The structure prior toreorganization is analyzed and classified as an example of Mintzberg's (1989) innovativeconfiguration. The paper also predicts an innovative configuration for the Agency'sreorganized structure based upon Mintzberg's contingency and life cycle hypotheses. Thereorganized structure (which came into effect May 1, 1992) is subsequently analyzed andagrees with the prediction.iiThe method of investigation included interviews with executive members conductedapproximately three months prior and three months after the reorganization, archival researchand personal observation by the writer, an employee of the Agency. Mintzberg's (1983, 1989)conceptual framework of structural configurations provided a basis for analysis of the casestudy data.The paper concludes that the innovative configuration is an appropriate form for theorganization in view of its mandate and strategic direction but notes that it is also a difficultconfiguration to sustain, subject to pressures for increasing bureaucratization and susceptible tointernal and external politicization. The paper recommends that the Agency do its best tomaintain the configuration by educating staff about its nature and resist pressures which mightshape it into a more conventional, professional form. The paper further finds Mintzberg'sframework descriptive and helpful in providing limited, broad understanding of the Agency, itsissues and choices for change; however, factors which can have significant impact such aspolitical pressure, personal idiosyncrasies of leaders and centralization of office sites make anydetailed prescriptions for organizational change somewhat elusive.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract^ i iTable of Contents^ i vAcknowledgements ixChapter 1: Overview of Thesis^ 1Introduction to Chapter 1 2Subject and Purpose of the Study^ 2Background on OLA^ 6Design of the Study 9Research Questions^ 9Method^ 10Data Sources 12Data Analysis 12Validation of Data^ 14Restrictions and Limitations^ 15Outline of the Study 16Chapter 2: Definitions, review of the literature andconceptual framework for analysis^ 18Introduction to Chapter 2^ 19Terms Used in this Study 19A Definition of Structure^ 21Organizational Structure: An Organizational Theory Perspective^28Classification of Perspectives^ 28Population ecology or Natural Selection Perspective^29Stages of Growth Perspective 42Strategic Choice Perspective 50Managerial Influence Perspective^ 63Conclusion and Summary of Organizational Theory Perspectives^68ivOrganizational Structure: Higher Education Perspectives^69Introduction^ 69Similarities between Corporate and Higher Education Organizations^69Differences between Corporate and Higher Education Organizations^72Convergence of Organizational Theory and Higher Education Literature 83Conclusion^ 84Organizational Structure: Distance Education Perspectives^85Introduction 85Models of Distance Education in Post-Secondary Institutions^85Quasi-industrial Nature of Distance Education Systems 86Conclusion^ 89Toward a Conceptual Framework for Examining Organizational Structure^90Introduction 90Organizations of the Future^ 92Synthesized Conceptual Frameworks^ 95Mintzberg's Organizational Configurations: a Conceptual Framework^97Mintzberg's Life Cycles of Organization: Predicting Structural Change 108Conclusion for Chapter 2^ 114Chapter 3: Case Study 115Introduction to Chapter 3^ 116Origins of OLA^ 116Introduction 116OLI Background^ 118KNOW Background 126Amalgamation of OLA and KNOW^ 129Summary of Origins of OLA 139Structure of Open Learning Agency, 1988-92, Prior to Reorganization^141Introduction^ 141Parts of the Organization^ 141Coordinating Mechanisms 146Design Parameters 149Conclusion^ 159Forces for Change^ 159Introduction 159Unity Within 161Unity Without^ 166The Ambiguous Role of Knowledge Network^166Need for Improved Use of Technology 169Emphasis on Marketability of Products and Services 170External Factors^ 172Conclusion 174Conclusion for Chapter 3 174Chapter 4: Analysis of 1988-92 OLA Structure & Predictionsfor ReorganizationIntroduction to Chapter 4Analysis of OLA's 1988-92 Structure^ 179Introduction^ 179The Basic Work of the Organization 180Key Coordinating Mechanism^ 181Key Part of the Organization and Decentralization of Decision-Making 183Approach to Strategy-Making 185Context or Environment 185Other Design Parameters^ 186Conclusion^ 187Predictions for OLA's Reorganized Structure^ 188Introduction^ 188Contingency or Situational Hypotheses 188Life Cycle Hypotheses^ 194Conclusion 197Conclusion for Chapter 4 198178179viChapter 5: Analysis of Reorganization^ 199Introduction to Chapter 5^ 200Background on reorganization process^ 200Introduction^ 200Overview of Restructuring Phases 201The First Model 207Reaction to the First Model^ 210The Second and Final Model 213Differences between the Organized Structure and the Former Structure 216An Analysis of the Reorganized Structure Compared with the FormerStructure^ 219Introduction^ 219The Basic Work of the Organization^ 219Key Coordinating Mechanism 220Key Part of the Organization 221Decentralization of Decision-Making 222Approach to Strategy-Making^ 224Context or Environment 225Other Design Parameters 225Summary of the Reorganized Configuration^ 226A Comparison of the Reorganized Structure with the Predicted Structure^227Conclusion for Chapter 5^ 228Chapter 6: Summary and Conclusions^ 230Introduction to Chapter 6^ 231Summary of the Study 231Conclusions^ 232Recommendations for OLA^ 244Recommendations for Further Research^ 249Conclusions for Chapter 6^ 254References^ 255viiAppendices^ 272273274279283286289292311Appendix 1Appendix 2Appendix 3Appendix 4Appendix 5Appendix 6Appendix 7Appendix 8Primary Interviews Conducted by the WriterInterview Questions and Pre-Interview QuestionnaireOrganization ChartsTablesTerms of Reference for Executive Committee andOperations Management CommitteeProgram Entity Mandate StatementsAccountability Statements and Decision-MakingAuthorities for Vice-PresidentsAbbreviations Used in This PaperviiiAcknowledgementsI wish to convey my gratitude to those who read and commented on drafts of the case studyportion of this paper: Dr. Tony Bates, Dr. Glen Farrell, Dr. Ian Mugridge, Lucille Pacey,Dick Scales and Sid Segal. I carry sole responsibility for any errors or omissions in the casestudy, as well as for the analysis, conclusion and recommendations. Special thanks go to mycolleague and mentor, Dick Scales, who first encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree andhas consistently been a great source of support during my studies.My thesis committee, consisting of Dr. John Dennison (advisor), Dr. Graham Kelsey (externalexaminer), Dr. John Levin, and Dr. Tom Sork, contributed invaluable feedback and friendlyencouragement throughout the development of this paper. In particular, I am indebted to Dr.Dennison, who has always provided patient guidance and wise counsel throughout mygraduate coursework.I wish to express special appreciation to Irwin De Vries, fellow student and colleague, whofirst inspired me regarding the work of Dr. Henry Mintzberg and provided useful insights andadvice as I struggled to bring focus to a study modelled in many ways after his own.Thanks go, as well, to my colleagues, Nini Baird, Dr. Alan Davis, and Geoff Stevens, whoprovided helpful suggestions and clarifications in the development of the pre-interviewquestionnaire and interview questions.To Suzanne Chu I convey my gratefulness for her desktop publishing assistance in theformatting of this document.This thesis is dedicated to Marta, Stephanie, David and my parents who gave me so muchsupport and comfort throughout my graduate studies and indulged my somewhat cloisteredexistence during the preparation of my papers. Finally, I acknowledge the One without Whomthe subject of this study would not exist.ixChapter 1: Overview of Thesis1The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1Introduction to Chapter 1This first chapter provides an overview of the study: its subject and purpose; backgroundinformation; its design and an outline of its organization.Subject and Purpose of the StudyThe problem to be addressed by this study is: How will the Open Learning Agency restructureto achieve its mandate and strategic direction?The Open Learning Agency (OLA) of British Columbia was established in April, 1988,through the passing of provincial legislation, Bill 58, the Open Learning Agency Act. This actidentified five purposes of the agency:In collaboration with universities, institutions, boards of school trustees and otheragencies concerned with education, OLA is to:1. Provide an educational credit bank for students,2. Coordinate the development of open learning education,3. Use open learning methods to provide educational programs and services,4. Carry out research related to open learning education, and5. Operate one or more broadcasting undertakings devoted primarily to thefield of educational broadcasting. (p. 2)OLA was preceded by two organizations established in the late 1970s: the Knowledge Networkof the West Communications Authority and the Open Learning Institute. The act dissolvedthese two organizations and created three programming components within the Agency: theOpen University, the Open College and the Knowledge Network. In September, 1991, GlenFarrell, president of OLA, officially recommended to its board that he intended to reorganizethe Agency.' A few weeks prior, 2 at a "President's Forum," staff meeting, he had announcedthe process which he would follow to bring about the restructuring. He indicated that the2The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1restructuring was in response to a need for the organization to become "demand-driven" asopposed to "supply-oriented", an outcome which he speculated, if achieved, would be uniqueamong public post-secondary educational institutions. The deadline for completion of therestructuring was March 31, 1992. The official commencement of the restructured organizationin fact became May 1, 1992, one month behind schedule.The study derives insights from the literature of organizational theory, higher education anddistance education to assess the influence of interrelated external and internal forces on theproblem of finding a harmonious organizational structure. It attempts to predict, from atheoretical standpoint, the most appropriate structure for OLA, given the interaction of theseforces, compares the actual reorganization with the predicted form and analyzes reasons for anylack of congruence between the two.This is not the first time that the organization (or its predecessors) have been studied; 3however, it is the first time that the organizational structure of OLA has been studied in anydepth.The rationale for conducting the study is threefold.3The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1First of all, though there have been previous studies which categorize two types of institutionalstructures in the Canadian postsecondary system which engage in distance education (Smith etal., 1984), emphasis has tended to be on "dual mode" campus-based institutions rather thanautonomous distance teaching institutions. Calvert (1986) notes the existence of fourinstitutions in the latter category which:...have created organizational models quite different from campus-basedinstitutions and in some ways from one another. Perhaps the time has come toevaluate these models and draw some conclusions. (p. 105)This study is one response to Calvert's call for action.Secondly, reorganization embodies, and affects, many diverse aspects of an educationalinstitution's operation: educational programs; learners; instructional and support staff;administration; curriculum and instruction; delivery of instruction; accessibility; and governance(Dennison and Levin, 1989). The study of organizational restructuring of one educationalinstitution may well contain lessons for other educational organizations contemplating similarmoves. Furthermore, as Guinsberg (1981), Bates (1984), Shale (1988) and others have notedthe increasing prominence of distance education in higher education, the restructuring of aninstitution engaged in distance education may have particular pertinence. Paul (1990) believesthat there is increasing convergence among distance or open learning institutions andconventional ones:The past decade has seen a realization of their potential, to the extent that theirplace in the world of higher education is firmly established. It is my own viewthat they will continue to be successful, in fact, that distinctions between'conventional' and 'open' universities will gradually disappear as more and moreinstitutions adopt and adapt the structures and processes of distance education inresponding to the needs of society and their students. (p. 187)4The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1He goes so far as to suggest that the world's open universities "will increasingly be seen asmodels for the university of tomorrow" (p.188).Nor are the lessons learned from this study necessarily restricted to the arena of highereducation. "Demand-driven," "client-focussed," "service-oriented," are adjectives commonlyassociated with the ideal organization of the 1990s. The analysis of how one unique andcomplex educational organization is attempting to respond to these pressures throughrestructuring may well hold lessons for organizations outside the educational community.Future organizations, in terms of their structure, management problems and concerns "will bearlittle resemblance to the typical manufacturing company, circa 1950, which our textbooks stillconsider the norm. Instead it is far more likely to resemble organizations that neither thepracticing manager nor the management scholar pays much attention to today: the hospital, theuniversity, the symphony orchestra...what I call an information-based organization" (Drucker,1988, p. 45). British theorist Handy (1989) also argues that in a knowledge society, withemphasis on information, intelligence and ideas, where the corporate search for quality can beequated with the university's search for truth, corporations will increasingly resembleuniversities or colleges (p. 113). To cope with the challenges of managing highly specializedprofessionals in information-based organizations and maintain the competitive advantage of themarket place, more and more businesses are simulating collegial models of governance anddecision-making common in university settings. He advises private sector organizations to paymore attention to university models of collegial governance marked by: emphasis on leadership;delegation to highly qualified specialists with freedom from hierarchical interference;commitment to ongoing professional development; emphasis on research and development; andcollegial decision-making in areas of specialist technical competence. Paul (1990) agrees that if5The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1open universities are successful in adapting to challenge and change, they will continue to"provide models and case studies for the development of organizational theory and for theemulation of even private-sector institutions in the 'knowledge' society" (p. 187).Thirdly, the study offers a concrete case example, an opportunity to find, test and evaluateconcepts and models derived from the literature of organizational theory, higher education anddistance education regarding organizational structure and the internal and external forces thatshape the organization. A better understanding of the forces at work can improveunderstanding of how an organizational structure comes into being, which in turn can improveunderstanding of how to manage within such a structure. As Merriam (1988) notes, qualitativecase study research can be a "catalytic element in the unfolding of theoretical knowledge"(P. 57).Background on OLA4The mission of OLA is to provide leadership in developing and maintaining a province-wideopen learning system in order to make lifelong training and educational opportunities availableto all people of B.C. Open learning is organized around the philosophy that learning is alifelong process. It claims to be learner-centred rather than institution-centred, building onexisting skills and knowledge and using a variety of teaching and learning strategies. As part ofthe province's post-secondary system, the Agency works in collaboration with universities,institutions, boards of school trustees and others concerned with education.In March, 1992, OLA relocated its three sites in the lower mainland of B.C. to newheadquarters in Burnaby, B.C. This building houses corporate and administrative offices,printing facilities, warehouse space and television production facilities, including two television6The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1studios. The facility also includes specially-designed television broadcast facilities, the audio-and video-teleconferencing facilities, and an integrated voice and data telecommunicationsinfrastructure.During the period 1988-92, the Agency offered open learning programming development anddelivery through three components: the Open University; the Open College; and the KnowledgeNetwork. (It continues to offer similar programming although the program components havenow been altered.) The Open University offered courses leading to university degrees and, incollaboration with other institutions, provided "laddered" or "cap-stone" programs leading todegrees and qualifications in special fields of study. Program offerings of the Open Universityincluded: administrative studies; arts; fine and performing arts; health science; and science andtechnology. The Open College provided instruction in a wide variety of areas including tradesand technology, health and human services, business, tourism, and basic education. Inresponse to the growing demand in business and industry for flexible, workplace-centredtraining, the Open College made workplace training a major focus of its activities. In 1990-91,combined Open University and Open College headcount enrollments exceeded 14,000,corresponding to course enrollments in excess of 21,000. The Knowledge Network broadcast(and continues to broadcast) almost 6,000 hours of programming annually including a widerange of general education programs as well as programs in support of instruction offered byB.C. schools, colleges and universities. Its "weekly audience reach" 5 in the spring of 1991was estimated at 400,000. In addition to acquiring programs for broadcast, KnowledgeNetwork also produced its own programs and provided telecommunication facilities for theother programming components of the Agency and the educational community at large.7The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1The Agency also engaged (and continues to engage) in several other activities: the B.C. CreditBank; Discovery Training Network; research; library services for learners and staff; andinternational activity. The B.C. Credit Bank makes it possible to consolidate credits fromaccredited educational institutions, and to gain credit for "non-formal learning" such asindustry-based training or on-the-job experience. It also provides a unique document evaluationservice for people needing to equate foreign training and work credentials to equivalentCanadian standards.The Discovery Training Network is B.C.'s largest on-line educational database carryinginformation on over 200,000 educational and training opportunities from both private andpublic organizations.The Research Office carries out institutional research and evaluation of open learning activitieswithin the Agency as well as on a province-wide basis.The OLA library contains over 250 journals and over 7,000 volumes on distance education,open learning and educational technology. In addition to meeting the research and coursedevelopment needs of Agency staff, the library provides assistance to external researchers. Anagreement with Simon Fraser University provides OLA students with access to the holdings ofthe W.A.C. Bennett library.Internationally, OLA's involvement extends around the Pacific Rim, Australia, Asia, Africa,the Middle East, and the former Soviet bloc, delivering materials and services ranging fromindividual course packages to complete educational systems. For example, OLA works closely8The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1with the Commonwealth of Learning, provides services and materials to the Hong Kong OpenLearning Institute and, through partner organizations such as Hong Kong Polytechnic, offersCanadian credits and qualifications to overseas students.In the 1990-91 fiscal year, OLA operated on a 32 million dollar budget (approximately two-thirds of which came from government funding). It employed 269 full-time staff on-site and186 part-time tutors off-site.Design of the StudyIn this section, research questions are articulated and the case study methodology is describedincluding data sources, data analysis, validation of data and restrictions and limitations of thestudy.Research QuestionsThe central question of this study is: How will the Open Learning Agency restructure toachieve its mandate and strategic direction? It is what Merriam (1988) would term an "action"problem in that there is no clear choice of alternatives for action (p. 41). It is predicated uponthe assumption that a harmonious balance among internal forces, external forces andorganizational structure influences the effective performance of an organization (Mintzberg,1979b, 1983, 1989; and others). For the purposes of this study, the term, "structure," includesa description of three elements: (1) division of labour into various tasks among the parts of anorganization; (2) the mechanisms which coordinate these tasks; and (3) the design parameterswhich determine the division of labour and achievement of coordination (Mintzberg, 1983).9The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1More specifically, Mintzberg's (1989) term, "configuration," will be used to describe uniquecombinations of the three elements, that is, a particular or common type of structure. Structureand configuration will be discussed more fully in Chapter 2.The central question can be divided into five subquestions:1. What was OLA's configuration prior to reorganization?2. What internal and external forces acted upon the configuration to change it?3. From a theoretical perspective, given these forces, what would be the predictedreorganized configuration for OLA?4. What did the final reorganized configuration of OLA turn out to be?5.^What are the reasons for the lack of congruence, if any, between the predicted and finalconfiguration?MethodThe study follows a case study approach, defined as "an examination of a specific phenomenonsuch as a program, an event, a person, a process, an institution or a social group" (Merriam,1988, p. 9). Merriam (1988) classifies case study research design as a qualitative approach:Discussions of case study are embedded in the growing body of literature onqualitative research and naturalistic inquiry. That is not to imply that qualitativeresearch equals a case study or that one cannot use quantitative data in a casestudy. Rather, the logic of this type of research derives from the worldview ofqualitative research...Overall, however, in a qualitative approach to research theparamount objective is to understand the meaning of an experience. In contrast toquantitative research, which takes apart a phenomenon to examine componentparts (which become the variables of the study), qualitative research strives tounderstand how all the parts work together to form a whole. (p. 16)10The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1Qualitative approaches not only provide a richer understanding of phenomena but appear to bemore appropriate for studies of this nature. Van Maanen (1982) has noted the increasingimportance of qualitative methods in organizational research and increasing disenchantmentwith the results of quantitative studies (pp. 11-29).Burge (1990) makes a plea for strengthened qualitative research in distance educationparticularly, research that reaches into the marrow bone, though she acknowledges that, giventhe unpredictability and indeterminateness of social and behavioural sciences, such researchmay be able to offer only temporary understandings of the phenomena studied.Borg and Gall (1989) identify ten generally accepted characteristics of qualitative research:1. Qualitative research involves holistic inquiry carried out in a natural setting.2. Humans are the primary data gathering instrument.3. There is an emphasis on qualitative data gathering methods.4. Sampling is purposive rather than random.5. Data analysis is inductive.6. Qualitative research develops "grounded theory" (a posteriori as opposed toa priori).7. Design emerges as research progresses.8. The subjects play a role in interpreting outcomes.9. Intuitive insights are utilized.10. There is a focus on social processes.This study will display most, if not all, of these characteristics.11The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1Data SourcesThe data gathered for analysis in the study are a "purposeful sampling" restricted with respectto time, site, people and events (Merriam, 1988, p. 44). The data were derived from five mainsources: (1) published literature on organizational structure from the fields of organizationaltheory, higher education and distance education; (2) historical documents, including legislation,internal corporate documents, memoranda, reports, meeting minutes, publications, archivesand strategic plans; (3) pre-interview questionnaires completed by the executive members of theAgency, who were the key decision-makers regarding the restructuring of the organization;(4) two sets of formal interviews (one prior to restructuring, one after restructuring) with theexecutive members; and (5) personal observation, as an employee of the Agency.Data AnalysisThe five subquestions will be analyzed in turn. In response to the first subquestion concerningthe configuration of OLA prior to restructuring, data will be analyzed for evidence of elementsdrawn from Mintzberg (1979b): concentration of power in the organization, prime coordinatingmechanisms used, type of decentralization of power employed, environmental attributes, andstrategic approaches and issues. The analysis will classify OLA's pre-reorganization structureas one of Mintzberg's (1989) seven configurations (or hybrids). In response to the secondsubquestion concerning internal and external forces acting upon OLA's structure, data will beanalyzed for key trends and synthesized into key forces. Thirdly, Mintzberg's contingency andsituational hypotheses and life cycle hypotheses will be applied on the basis of these key forcesto predict a reorganized configuration for OLA. In response to the fourth subquestion,information on the actual reorganized structure will be analyzed using the same process as for12The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1the first subquestion. Finally, any discrepancy between the predicted and actual, finalconfiguration will be examined for possible explanatory variables. Mintzberg's models andhypotheses will also be evaluated regarding their utility in this study.As Chapter 2 will show, Mintzberg's (1983, 1989) models and hypotheses have been chosenfor several reasons. First of all, Mintzberg's work is based upon an extensive survey ofempirical research. Authors such as Bemicker (1984), Grinyer (1984), and Blake & Mouton(1982) support Mintzberg's work as a useful synthesis of much of the literature inorganizational theory. Furthermore, the synthesis, unlike many studies which emanate fromorganizational theory, includes models and examples for higher education rather than simplyassuming that higher education organizations are merely extensions of corporate entities. In thissense, he replies to Baldridge's (1978) caution against viewing colleges and universities asmere extrapolations of corporate business organizations. Another reason is that Mintzberg(1983, 1989) provides a convenient and consistent theoretical framework by which to analyzedata gathered. Merriam (1988) observes that different types of evidence may be gathered aslong as one does not attempt to "reach conclusions across studies conducted from differentparadigms" (p. 2). Finally, although application of Mintzberg's models and hypotheses maynot identify quantifiable variables and causal relationships among them, it nevertheless willhave value if it provides a richer qualitative insight into the nature of organizations. DeVries(1990) notes that a fit between an organization and a configuration:...does not necessarily confirm a causal relationship between the variablesproposed by Mintzberg and the actual organization under discussion, in thatother, independent variables may be at work. Further, if one assumes thatno two organizations are the same, that each organization exists in a differentenvironment, and that the structural approach excludes many variables fromconsideration, it may prove difficult if not impossible to test the causalrelationships in any conclusive way.13The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1[However,]...causality need not be proved in order to obtain valuable insightsfrom the relationships observed...If a configuration appears to provide areasonably accurate description of [an organization], its value if any will lie in theextent to which it provides an enriched understanding of the emergent issues andof the research questions, and, to some extent, avenues for seeking new answersfor some old problems. (pp. 108-109)Peterson (1985) notes that two competing research perspectives about organizations havedeveloped. One is the functional view, oriented toward the traditional paradigm oforganizational reality as an objective fact which can broken down into knowable componentparts. Researchers subscribing to this perspective focus on specific organizational elements andseek causal rules that have predictive value. The second interpretive view stresses anorganization's ability to construct its own social reality, seeing the organization as a culturalconstruction where participants constantly interpret and recreate organizational reality.Researchers subscribing to this perspective are more interested in how participants interpret andmake sense of the organization to themselves and others. Mintzberg's (1989) conceptualframework provides a convenient bridge between the functional and interpretive views,permitting the richly descriptive qualitative dimension of the case study to surface while at thesame time providing an analytical tool by which to make sense of that reality. As Mintzberg(1989) would say, it combines the "lumpers and splitters" approaches to the study oforganizations.Validation of DataThe study was validated in five ways. First of all, dissimilar methods were used to study thesame phenomenon: data were extracted from, and cross-referenced against, several sources inan effort to "triangulate" key elements of the data defined as the use of multiple sources of dataor methods to establish validity through pooled judgment (Guba and Lincoln, 1981; Merriam,1988, p. 169). Faulkner (1982) extolls the virtues of a triad mode of data collection for14The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1organizational research: observation, interviewing and use of archives or records (p. 81).Secondly, questionnaires and interview questions were pretested among senior Agencydirectors reporting to executive members in an effort to purge hidden assumptions and unusualterminology deriving from the conceptual foundation of this study. Thirdly, the case studies ofChapters 3 and 5 were reviewed by the primary sources of the information. Informal follow-upon the information was conducted when further clarification was required. Opportunities forclarification of data derived from the first interview were provided at the second interview. AsYin (1984) notes, though participants may disagree with conclusions or interpretations of astudy, they should not disagree over the actual facts of the case. Fourthly, a common andconsistent framework and the same set of interviewees were maintained as a referentthroughout the study to guide the analysis of actual and predicted structures. Becauseinterviewees did not necessarily share the same conceptual framework nor fully understand it,any bias or other theoretical leanings in their comments could be effectively filtered out.Fifthly, an "audit trail" (Merriam, 1988, p. 183) has been maintained, namely a description indetail of how the study was conducted and how findings were derived from the data. 6Restrictions and LimitationsAs an employee of the Agency, the writer acknowledges the potential for subjective bias orconflict of interest. A number of preventative measures have been taken. Although the writer'stuition was generously paid and some time provided by the Agency to conduct this study, thechoice of topic and method were made independently of that relationship. Although the writerenjoys working relationships with most of the interviewees, efforts were made to ensure theobjectivity of the data obtained through the techniques identified for data validation. Inparticular, as there is always a concern in such studies that the process might be tainted by thewriter's participant-observer role, the use of a consistent theoretical framework different from15The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1that of the consultants hired by the Agency and not explicitly stated to those interviewed washelpful in the elimination of personal bias. Moreover, in terms of final decisions about thereorganization of OLA, the writer's role, in all humility, as one among eleven senior directorsat the Agency, probably had little direct influence on the overall outcome. It is also for reasonsof objectivity that interviews were restricted to the dominant coalition (executive members) ofthe organization, rather than colleagues (other stakeholders) at other levels within theorganization or outside the organization. Therefore, it is fair to say, in the spirit of Peterson's(1985) interpretive approach to organizational research, that this study is in some ways limitedto how key administrators perceive the organization and organizational change (and hence howtheir perceptions may influence both). The experimental flavour of the approach assisted inpreserving objectivity too• timing of interview data-gathering preceded the actual reorganizationin an attempt to get a true reading of internal and external forces operating on the organization atthat time, rather than an explanation of forces in hindsight. Since there is room in anyqualitative study for intuition and because of the writer's unique positioning for observationwithin the organization, some anecdotal examples and personal insights are offered throughoutthe study but are flagged as such. Furthermore, the writer alone is responsible for therecording, analysis, interpretation of the data, as well as the conclusions of the study.Outline of the StudyFollowing this introduction, Chapter 2 provides definitions of what is meant by organizationalstructure for the purposes of this study and reviews the literature of organizational theory,higher education and distance education for the internal and external forces that influenceorganizational structure and change its shape in particular ways. It also provides a rationale forthe choice of Mintzberg's models and hypotheses as the basis for an integrative frameworkupon which to conduct the analysis of the succeeding chapters. Chapter 3 is a case study of the16The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 1Open Learning Agency, its pre-reorganization structure, the internal and external forces actingupon it as seen through the eyes of its executive members and the key issues facing theorganization, including the reasons for wanting to review the organizational structure. Chapter4 analyzes the pre-reorganization structure and classifies it as a particular instance of one ofMintzberg's (1989) configurations. This chapter also predicts a configuration for the Agency'sreorganized structure based upon Mintzberg's contingency and life cycle hypotheses. Chapter 5analyzes the reorganized structure that actually resulted and classifies it as a particular instanceof one of Mintzberg's configurations. It is compared with the predicted configuration.Chapter 6 presents conclusions, compares the actual and predicted reorganized structure andcomments on the usefulness of Mintzberg's (1989) frameworkfor this current study and future research.Footnotes1 OLA board meeting, September 12-13, 1991.2 President's Forum staff meeting, August 29, 1991.3 Moran (1991) provides an excellent detailed history of OLI from 1978-88 and somehistorical references to KNOW as well. In addition, she provides extensive bibliographicreferences to others who have studied the institution.4 Source: Agency publication. 1991. Quick facts: Decade at a glance.5 Weekly audience reach is the number of people who tune into a given television channelon a weekly basis. The measure counts unduplicated viewership; that is, one persontuning in five times during one week counts as one, not five. The measure is derived fromstatistics provided by the Bureau of Broadcast Membership and Nielsen Media Research.6 Primary sources used in this study are on file at the OLA Library.17Chapter 2:Definitions, review of the literatureand conceptual framework foranalysisThe Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Introduction to Chapter 2This chapter will focus on three key questions pertinent to the study:What is meant by an organization's structure?What forces shape an organization's structure?What kind of changes in organizational structure occur?The chapter is organized in the following way. After a brief discussion of terms used in thisstudy, a definition of an organization's structure for the purposes of this study will beproposed to address the first question. A review of the literature will address issues related tothe latter two questions. This literature review will consider first the research offered by theliterature of general organizational theory and then focus upon trends regarding organizationalstructure which are emerging from the literature of higher education and distance education.The literature review concludes with the presentation of a conceptual framework (Mintzberg,1989) which synthesizes the research and provides the foundation on which this study isbased.Terms Used in this StudyWhat does "open learning" in Open Learning Agency mean? Open learning is a concept relatedto the term, "distance education," though it is generally acknowledged that open learning isconsidered to be a broader concept than distance education. Distance education refers to a formof education, usually part-time, in which the learner and instructor are separated in place (i.e.,geographic separation) and/or time (i.e., the provision and receipt of instruction do notnecessarily occur simultaneously) and communicate through various media (Keegan, 1980;19The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Rumble, 1986; Shale, 1988). Holmberg (1981) sums up distance education as a "mediatedform of guided conversation" between learner and instructor (p. 12). The telecommunicationsmedia used in distance education may take a number of forms: print; audio; video; broadcastradio and television; computer; telephone and conferencing technologies; and multi-mediatechnologies. Open learning, on the other hand, connotes a broader social purpose of removingbarriers to education and enabling access. The term does not necessarily assume physicaland/or temporal separation of learner and instructor, that is, distance education is a necessarybut not sufficient condition for open learning. Mead (1987) offers a useful matrix definition ofopen learning. He considers the five key dimensions of any educational enterprise: who (thelearner); what (the curriculum of study); how (instructional support or means of instructionaldelivery); where (location of learning); and when (time of learning). A "closed learning"system is defined as the traditional classroom face-to-face instructional situation: a group oflearners guided through a subset of curriculum by an instructor supported by someinstructional media (such as a blackboard, overhead projector, video playback unit, etc.) in aroom, on a campus, at a set time. By Mead's defmition, if any one of the dimensions is mademore flexible (i.e., more "open"), then the instruction is deemed "open learning." For example,if the "where" dimension of the traditional classroom is expanded slightly by providing atelecommunication link to a second classroom location, thereby permitting learners at thesecond location to benefit from an instructor at the first location, this situation would qualify asan example of open learning. Consequently, by this definition, another way of looking at openlearning is the removal of barriers to learning. It is a relative rather than an absolute term: somesystems are more open than others. Such definitions give rise to several implications of openlearning. Paul (1990) describes several of these implications: greater accessibility to learners byovercoming barriers related to program admission requirements, scheduling of classes, locationof learning, financial constraints, personal characteristics and social disadvantage; greaterflexibility through more frequent admission periods, learner self-pacing through courses, and20The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2provision of optional student support services by the institution; more learner control overcontent and structure of coursework; more learner choice over instructional delivery systemsand learning processes appropriate to his or her individual requirements; and improvedflexibility in accreditation arrangements, including recognition of courses accredited by otherinstitutions for transfer credit, provision for learners to "challenge" courses for credit, andgranting of credit for non-formal learning experiences (pp. 46-49). Farrell (1987) provides asimilar list of implications of open learning including: acceptance of learning as a lifelongactivity; greater integration of instructional delivery across components of the overalleducational system and between differing levels of education; improvement in facilitation oftransferability and accreditation of knowledge and skills through credit banking mechanisms;the development of consortium models among institutions to maximize resource utilization; andthe emergence of a broader definition of the concept of education which provides for jointprivate/public sector initiatives.A Definition of StructureThere is no scarcity of defmitions of "organization" and "organizational structure" in theliterature. Some definitions are rather loose while others are more specific. Among the looserdefmitions are ones such as that of Barnard (1938): "a system of consciously coordinatedactivities or forces of two or more persons" (p. 73). Other defmitions stress the organizationalrelationship with its environment and consider systems of inputs, throughputs and output, witha series of feedback loops. In these cases, there is an acknowledgement that there is no onebest way of organizing, that organizational structure is contingent upon the environment inwhich the organization finds itself. In both cases, the defmitions offer little informationconcerning the actual configuration or pattern of an organization. Among the more specificdefinitions, Schein (1980) cites four necessary characteristics that must be present for an21The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2organization to exist: coordination of effort; common purpose or goal; division of labour; and ahierarchy of authority as a means of coordination. Key elements of an organization's structurealso emerge in a definition of organization offered by Miles and Snow (1978): "both anarticulated purpose and an established mechanism for achieving it" (p. 3). These mechanismsinclude the structure of roles and relationships as well as decision-making and controlprocesses. Mintzberg (1983) offers a similar definition of organization and suggests that everyorganized human activity has two fundamental and opposing requirements: the division oflabour into tasks and the coordination of these tasks to accomplish an activity.The structure of an organization can be defined simply as the sum total of theways in which its labour is divided into distinct tasks and then its coordination isachieved among these tasks. (p. 2)Of the more specific definitions, it is Mintzberg, however, who articulates most clearly (on thebasis of synthesis of research on organizational structure) the distinctive ways in whichdivision of labour occurs in an organization, how coordination among tasks is achieved and theinterrelationship between the two. For the purposes of this study, Mintzberg's terminology andtheoretical framework will serve as the basis for a definition of organizational structure.Reasons for choosing Mintzberg will be discussed more fully at the end of this chapter. A briefreview of Mintzberg's terminology and concepts follows.The first element of organizational structure, division of labour, is relatively straightforwardand dependent on the nature of the task and the means to accomplish it. Mintzberg (1983,1989) claims that there are five parts to any organization and, depending on the organization,some emphasized more than others: the operating core, the strategic apex, the middle line, thetechnostructure and the support staff. The first three parts constitute the basic "line" operationof the organizational structure; the latter two parts are outside the hierarchy of line authority and22The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2frequently referred to simply as "staff." The operating core consists of those front-lineoperators who perform the basic work of the organization, either producing products orrendering services. The strategic apex, at the opposite end of the organization, is themanagement which oversees the whole organizational system. The three major tasks of thestrategic apex are to ensure that the work of the organization gets done, manage boundaryconditions with respect to the organization's environment and develop organizational strategy.The middle line consists of managers of operators and managers of managers, the hierarchy ofauthority between the operating core and the strategic apex. The technostructure consists ofthose who plan and control the work of others by designing various forms of standardization inthe organization. Examples of such individuals would be analysts, planners, quality controlengineers, production schedulers, accountants, trainers and so on. The support staff areinternal services, either purchased or owned, which provide support to the organization outsideof its operating flow. This part of the organization may include receptionists, mailroom staff,cafeteria staff, legal counsel and public relations departments. To these five parts of theorganization, Mintzberg (1989) adds a sixth in his most recent work, Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organizations: ideology  or culture of anorganization, the traditions or beliefs of an organization that set it apart from otherorganizations and breathe life into the skeleton of the other five parts. Mintzberg also notes theexistence of internal and external coalitions. Internal coalitions are influencers from inside theorganizational structure who vie for power, external coalitions are those influencers outside theorganization such as owners, employee unions, suppliers, clients and competitors. Externalcoalitions may be active or passive, dominated by one group or divided (which can imposeconsiderable contradiction upon an organization).23The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2With regard to coordinating mechanisms, Mintzberg again claims that there are six: mutualadjustment; direct supervision; standardization of work processes; standardization of outputs;standardization of skills or knowledge; and standardization of norms. The mechanism ofmutual adjustment coordinates primarily through means of informal communication. Thecoordinating mechanism of direct supervision consists of one individual issuing orders orinstructions to several others. Standardization of work processes implies the specification ofestablished procedures for individuals who carry out interrelated tasks. Standardization ofoutputs is the production of a product or service to an established set of specifications.Standardization of skills or knowledge occurs when work is coordinated by virtue of workerswho have been trained to perform in a prescribed manner. Finally, standardization of norms occurs when everyone in an organization functions according to the same set of beliefs (such asin a religious order, for example). In general, as work becomes more complex, coordinatingmechanisms occur in organizations in roughly the aforementioned order. Paradoxically,organizations which perform highly complex work frequently revert back to mutual adjustmentas their prime coordinating mechanism. Most organizations use a combination of coordinatingmechanisms, almost always including mutual adjustment and some form of direct supervision.Mintzberg also suggests that some coordinating mechanisms are favoured over others at certainstages in an organization's life; organizations which favour none tend to be highly politicized.To the six parts of an organization and the six coordinating mechanisms, Mintzberg adds fourdesign parameters: design of individual positions; design of the organizational superstructure(i.e., grouping of individual positions into units); design of lateral linkages among groups; andthe centralization or decentralization of decision-making. He claims that it is the manipulation ofthese parameters which determine division of labour and achievement of coordination.24The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2The design of individual positions  involves three concepts: job specialization; behaviourformalization; and training and indoctrination. Mintzberg distinguishes between two types ofjob specialization: horizontal, which encompasses a few narrowly defined tasks; and vertical,where the worker lacks control of tasks performed. For example, professional jobs tend to bespecialized horizontally but not vertically; on the other hand, unskilled jobs tend to bespecialized both horizontally and vertically. Behaviour formalization refers to thestandardization of work processes through the use of operating instructions, job descriptionsand rules and regulations. Training refers to those formal instructional programs whichstandardize among employees the requisite skills and knowledge to do particular jobs in theorganization; indoctrination refers to programs and techniques by which organizational normsare standardized.The design of the superstructure  entails grouping individual positions into units anddetermining the size of each unit. Mintzberg (1983) claims that grouping is one of the morepowerful design parameters:...Grouping can stimulate to an important degree two important coordinatingmechanisms^direct supervision and mutual adjustment—and can form the basisfor a third—standardization of outputs—by providing common measures ofperformance. (p. 47)Positions are grouped in one of two ways: by function performed or by market served.Functional groupings are typically based upon common knowledge, skills, work processes andfunctions. They are advantageous in that such groupings can improve efficiency andspecialization; their disadvantage is that individuals within them become somewhat myopicwith regard to the scope and understanding of the goals of the unit and organization. Marketgroupings are usually based upon commonality of outputs, clients or places served. Theiradvantage is that individuals within them develop a strong identification with the needs of the25The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2client. The disadvantage of using such groupings is that there is less opportunity for processspecialization and the building of a strong core of professionals. Unit size (sometimes called"span of control") refers to the number of positions within a single unit.The design of lateral linkages among groups that constitute the superstructure comprises theuse of planning and control systems and liaison devices. Mintzberg distinguishes betweenaction planning and performance control systems. The former focusses on changes andimprovements to work processes and activities (usually in functional groupings) and specifiesthe results of actions before they are taken; the latter focusses on the monitoring andmeasurement of outputs over a given period of time (usually in market-based groupings) andspecifies the desired results after the fact. Liaison devices refer to methods of assistingcoordination through mutual adjustment. Examples of such devices would be special liaisonpositions which hold no formal power but through whom communication is transmitted, taskforces and standing committees, and matrix organizational structures.Centralization or decentralization of decision-making is the fourth and final design parameter.Centralized decision-making occurs when power rests with a single point in the organization; incontrast, decentralized decision-making occurs when power is dispersed among manyindividuals in the organization. Centralization and decentralization of decision-making can bethought of as the ends of a continuum. Organizations choose decentralized decision-making forseveral reasons. It is difficult for those at the strategic apex to have all the information on handon which to base decisions. Decentralized decision-making allows the organization to adaptmore quickly to environmental changes than does centralized decision-making. Providingemployees in lower levels of the organization with decision-making power can also be verymotivating for them. There are several types of decentralized decision-making. Verticaldecentralization occurs when power is delegated down the hierarchy from the strategic apex to26The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2line managers. Horizontal decentralization occurs when power is delegated outside the linehierarchy to non-managers (such as, operators, analysts in the technostructure, or supportstaff). There also exists selective and parallel decentralization: the former occurs when powerover different decisions is dispersed to different places in the organization; the latter occurswhen power over different decisions is dispersed to the same place in the organization.Mintzberg finds six types of decentralization common in organizations: vertical and horizontalcentralization, where power resides at the strategic apex; limited horizontal decentralization(selective), where the strategic apex and technostructure share power; limited verticaldecentralization (parallel), where managers of market-based units have control; vertical andhorizontal decentralization, where power resides in the operating core; selective vertical andhorizontal decentralization, where power is dispersed to teams made up of operators, managersand experts; and pure decentralization, where power is shared equally among all members of anorganization.For the purposes of this paper, then, the term, organizational structure, refers to the uniquecombination of Mintzberg's six organizational parts (operating core, strategic apex, middleline, technostructure, support staff and ideology), six coordinating mechanisms (mutualadjustment, direct supervision, standardization of work process, standardization of outputs,standardization of skills and knowledge, and standardization of norms) and four designparameters which determine division of labour and achievement of coordination (design ofindividual positions, grouping or design of organizational superstructure, design of laterallinkages among groups, and centralization or decentralization of decision-making). As will beseen at the end of this chapter, common patterns of these combinations emerge, whichMintzberg terms "configurations." Organizational structure, "configuration" (or "configurationhybrid") will be used synonymously in this study.27The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Organizational Structure: An Organizational Theory PerspectiveThe following section reviews the literature of organizational theory for clues concerning theforces which determine and change an organization's structure.Classification of PerspectivesThere is considerable agreement in the literature of organizational theory and developmentregarding classification systems for perspectives on forces which shape organizational structureand change. Miles and Snow (1978) categorize these forces into three distinct groupings: earlyperspectives (which comprises early works on scientific management principles and principlesof bureaucracy); contingency perspectives (which relate to the influence of environment onorganizational structure); and neo-contingency perspectives (which introduce the role ofmanagerial choice in the shaping of organizational structures). Leontiades (1980) uses a similarclassification system: internal forces; external forces and the "managerial factor." Similarly,Levy and Merry (1986) classify perspectives according to: internal driving (micro) forces;external driving (macro) forces; and the interaction between internal and external drivingforces. Cameron (1984) portrays a spectrum of influences ranging from approaches whichstress high environmental importance and low managerial influence to approaches which stresslow environmental importance and high managerial influence. Cameron further subdivides thisspectrum into four common approaches: the population ecology (or natural selection) approach;stages of growth (or life cycles) approach; strategic choice approach; and managerial influence(or symbolic action) approach. It is this latter classification scheme (summarized in Table 1 ofAppendix 4) which has been used in this study to categorize pervasive themes in the literatureregarding influences on organizational structure.28The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Population Ecology or Natural Selection PerspectiveIntroductionThis perspective argues the powerful influence of environment on organizational process andstructure. Levy and Merry (1986) indicate that this perspective is predicated on three basicpremises about change (pp. 224-225). First, organizational change and development arefunctions of environmental change. Unlike early theorists such as Taylor (1911) and Weber(1947) who thought of organizational process and structure as independent variables that couldbe manipulated by managers, this view considers the internal aspects of organization to bedependent variables whose form is largely determined by forces originating from outside theorganization. Secondly, change is meaningful only when viewed on a macro level; that is, it isthe persistence of change across a population of organizations being differentially selected bythe environment that is important; single organizational changes are largely irrelevant.Darwinian in tenor, it is the fittest "species" of organizations that survive—those that evolvecharacteristics that are compatible with the environment—while other species become extinct.Thirdly, and following from the second point, managerial choice is largely eschewed asunnecessary, irrelevant or misleading explanations for the process of change in organizations.There are severe constraints on managers' choices of new environments and on their abilities toinfluence those environments: specialization of organizational processes and personnel;established ideas and "mindsets" of the dominant coalition; difficulties in restructuringtechnologies; organizational traditions, norms and policies; legal and fiscal constraints. Theseand many other factors make it difficult for organizations to respond to environmental changesin a timely manner. Aldrich (1979) goes so far as to argue that managers' perceptions of their29The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2environments are so homogeneous that truly novel strategic choices are improbable. Hence themacro level of analysis becomes doubly important because of the many constraints and inertiasinhibiting managerial action in organizations.This section will describe how the population ecology or natural selection perspective viewsorganizations as "open systems" buffeted by environmental forces. It will provide a definitionof environment and focus upon two significant variables within the environment which,according to this perspective, influence organization structure and change: environmentaluncertainty and technology. The section concludes with a series of hypotheses collected byMintzberg (1989) which summarize the effects of environment on organization structure andchange. A short critique of the perspective is also provided.Organizations as "open systems"The population ecology perspective is consistent with the view of an organization as an "opensystem," which takes its inspiration from the work of the theoretical biologist, Ludwig vonBertalanffy, and his principles of general systems theory. Organizations, like organisms whichoccur in nature, are "open" to their environment and must achieve an appropriate relation withthe environment if they are to survive. These "open systems" are characterized by a continuouscycle of input, internal transformation (throughput), output and feedback. Organizations mustconstantly monitor their environment and self-regulate on the basis of positive or negativefeedback received. Organizations are complex and consist of mutually dependent, interrelatedsubsystems (individuals, groups and work units) just as natural organisms consist ofmolecules, cells and organs. Structure, function, behaviour and all other features of systemoperation are closely intertwined. Each subsystem is functionally interdependent on the othersubsystems and not reducible to a simple structure. As a system grows more complex, as30The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2reflected by increased differentiation and specialization of functions, more complex systems ofintegration to maintain the system as a whole are required. Related to the idea of differentiationand integration is the principle of requisite variety which states that internal regulatorymechanisms of a system must be as diverse as the environment in which it is trying to deal.The principle of equifinality captures the flexibility of open systems: that there are many meansby which to arrive at a given end. Thus open systems are made up of more than fixed cause-and-effect linkages.Definitions of environmentInherent in this perspective is the permeability of the boundary between organization and itsenvironment. Indeed, defining organizational boundaries has been likened to fmding theboundaries of a cloud and consequently, defining what is "in" the organization as compared towhat is "in" the environment can be a daunting task (Starbuck, 1976). This difficulty ofspecifying where the organization ends and the environment begins has pushed some writers toconsider external variables that might give a more complete understanding of behaviour withinorganizations. The descriptions of environment must be flexible enough to permit meaningfulcomparison of different kinds of organizations yet precise enough to be analytically useful. Thefirst widely recognized typology of environments presented four categories based on the degreeof interconnectedness and extent of change in the environment (Emery and Trist, 1965).Arranged in ascending order of change and uncertainty, these four environments are: placid-randomized; placid-clustered; disturbed-reactive; and turbulent field. Emery and Trist arguedthat each type of environment required a different form of organizational structure, althoughthey failed to specify the contingent forms.31The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2A distinction is usually made between the general environment which affects all organizations(technological, legal, economic, demographic and cultural conditions) and the specificenvironment, which consists of those external entities and conditions that interact directly withthe organization under consideration and are relevant or potentially relevant to theorganization's goal setting and attainment (such as persons, groups or other organizationswhich supply inputs to, or receive outputs from, the focal organization). Such environmentshave been referred to as "task environments" (Thompson, 1967) or "relevant environments"(Dill, 1958).Aldrich and Pfeffer (1976) identify a three-step evolutionary model by which organizationschange and adapt to their environment: variation, selection and retention. The first step is thatvariations in structure occur. From this perspective, the source of the variation is irrelevant.People may adapt to an environment, but all they have done collectively is provide a pool ofvariations in the population of organizations. In the second step, selection, the environmentdifferentially selects one or more of these variations. Other organizations fail; consequentlytheir variations are removed from the pool. In the third step, retention, variations that wereselected are retained. McKelvey (1982) expands this evolutionary perspective by arguing thatsystematics, the science of classification, is a prerequisite to the understanding oforganizational change and development. To understand how organizations adapt, he argues,one must be able to discriminate among different kinds of organizations and trace the linkagesof these organizational differences. He provides a number of succinct axioms and propositions,for example: environments of organizations change; organizations respond to environmentalforces. Thus, adaptation to changing environments accounts for the evolution oforganizations—usually incremental but sometimes revolutionary changes in structures,processes and competencies over successive generations. The specific course of organizational32The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2evolution and change is ultimately determined by characteristics of environments. In summary,adaptation to a changing environment explains organizational differences and, thus, change andevolution. To understand change, then, one has to study the differences in the environment.So what are these variables in the environment? According to this perspective there are two:environmental uncertainty and technology.Environmental uncertainty and organizational structureOne of the more influential studies supporting this perspective was conducted in the 1950's byBurns and Stalker (1961). They made popular the phrases "organic" and "mechanical" as twoextremes on a continuum of organizational structure. Mechanistic organizations tend to be rigidin design and have strong bureaucratic qualities. In contrast, organic organizations tend to bequite fluid and flexible in structure. In their study of firms in a variety of industries (man-madefibres, engineering and electronics), Burns and Stalker uncovered a link between organizationalstructure and environment. They suggested that successful organizations in relatively stable andcertain environments tended to be mechanistic. Conversely, relatively organic organizationstended to be the successful ones when the environment was unstable and uncertain.Lawrence and Lorsch (1967), researchers from Harvard University who studied ten successfuland unsuccessful organizations in three different industries and their adjustments to theenvironment, documented the relationship between two opposing structural forces,differentiation and integration, and environmental complexity. Differentiation is the tendencyamong specialists to think and act differently. This structural force is achieved through thedivision of labour and technical specialization. Differentiation is a force which tends tofragment and disperse an organization. Integration, on the other hand, is the collaboration33The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2among specialists that is needed to achieve a common purpose. Integration can be partlyachieved through a number of organizational mechanisms, including hierarchical control,policies and procedures, departmentalization, cross-functional committees and teams andliaison individuals or groups. Integration is a coordinating and unifying force. According toLawrence and Lorsch, every organization requires an appropriate dynamic equilibrium betweenthe two opposing forces of differentiation and integration. They discovered that in successfulfirms, both differentiation and integration increased as environmental complexity increased.This was not only true of the organization as a whole but of the organizational subunits as well.However, they also found that the more differentiated an organization, the more difficult it is toachieve integration. Thompson (1967) and Perrow (1967) arrive at a similar conclusion andargue that complex and diverse environments are likely to require more highly differentiatedorganizational structures than do simple and homogeneous environments.Hannan and Freeman (1977) suggest that unstable environments select those organizationswhich have developed a generalist structure—that is, organizations which have not adapted toany single environment but are flexible over the entire set of environments (p. 946). Similarly,stable environments select specialist organizations. Zammuto and Cameron (1983) elaborate onthe work of Hannan and Freeman and point out what kinds of adaptations are required ofpopulations of organizations when faced with different types of change in environmental niches(i.e., subunits of the environment that support the organization). Two types of "niche" changecan occur that lead to organizational adaptation. One is a change in the size of the niche, or theamount of resources available to organizations. When populations of organizations encounterchanges in niche size (e.g., fewer resources are available), specialist organizations—those thatare especially good at a narrow range of activities—adapt the best. The second type is a changein the shape of the niche, or the type of organizational activities supported. When a population34The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2of organizations encounters a change in niche shape (e.g., certain organizational activities areno longer supported), generalist organizations—those involved in a wide range of activities—adapt the best.Miles and Snow (1978) summarize a variety of studies which have found that relativelyuncertain environments are associated with : (1) extensive participation in organizationaldecision-making, less formalized job design and rapid program innovation; (2) greater lateralcommunication, self-contained tasks and extensive environmental surveillance; and (3) lowertask specialization, less internal consensus and more organizational slack. They conclude that"relatively certain or predictable environments are associated with more bureaucratized, stable,centralized, homogeneous and introspective organizational systems" (p. 254).In summary, those who subscribe to environmental uncertainty as a major determinant oforganizational structure claim that stable environments tend to produce more mechanistic,integrated, specialized organizational structures and unpredictable environments tend toproduce more organic, differentiated, generalist organizational structures.Technology and organizational structureWhile some researchers have focussed on uncertainty in the environment as the independentvariable on which organizational structure depends, others have considered the role oftechnology. Broadly defined, technology is the combination of skills, equipment and relevanttechnical knowledge needed to bring about the desired transformations in materials,information or people. Structure, which exists to control and coordinate technology as well asbuffer it from environmental disturbances, refers to the characteristics of organizationalsubunits and the relationships among them (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 256).35The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Woodward (1965), in a study of firms in England, discerned a relationship between thetechnology and the structure of successful organizations. She argued that different technologiesimpose different demands on individuals and organizations that have to be met throughappropriate structure. She contrasts the effect of technology for unit (or small batch)production, mass production and continuous process production on organizational structure.Unit or small-batch production technology is labour intensive and highly adaptable, suitable forcustom products and low output levels. A unit technology is usually accompanied by a flexibleorganizational structure that has a small administrative component (relative to the number ofemployees), few hierarchical levels and a moderately broad span of supervisory control. Mostemployees who operate this type of technology have general as opposed to specialized skills,and the technology may be relatively easily adjusted to accommodate experimentation with newproducts and processes. However, mass production technologies are more appropriate forstandardized products and long production runs with high volumes of output in order to beeconomical. The organizational structure appropriate for a mass-production technology is onewhich is highly formalized and has larger administrative component with a wider span ofcontrol than does a unit technology. Employees have specialized skills which may be relativelyinterchangeable within the system but cannot be easily adapted to new products and processes.Continuous process technologies are highly capital intensive and require large output volume.Though this type of technology permits the manufacture of a considerable range of relatedproducts, the technology itself is quite rigid. The structure compatible with continuous-processtechnology requires the largest administrative component, the most hierarchical levels and thenarrowest span of control. Comparatively few individuals are required to monitor themachinery but they are must have high levels of judgment and technical skill36The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Perrow (1970) pursued research similar to Woodward and analyzed the technology of handlinginformation according to a classification scheme based upon whether situations presentedrelatively easy or difficult solutions and whether there were few or many cases in eachcategory. He concluded that firms which handle routine technological demands (likeautomobile manufacturers) were adequately served by centralized, pyramidal structures whilefirms with high concentrations of uncertainty (like advertising agencies and aerospace firms)had different organizational characteristics.Another set of studies (Thompson, 1967; Perrow, 1967; Reeves and Woodward, 1970)suggest that the structure of an organization does not respond directly to technology but ratherto the different demands for control and coordination imposed theimEgent types•7•ftechnology. Reeves and Woodward (1970) found that as technology moves from unit to massproduction to continuous-process, there is an increase in mechanical over personal forms ofcontrol. At the same time, control systems tend to be unitary (applied throughout theorganization) in unit technologies, fragmented (with different control standards andmechanisms for each major organizational subunit) in mass production technologies andunitary in continuous-process technologies. Therefore, different technologies require differentforms of control and these in turn create some demand for a particular organizational structurealthough they do not precisely determine that structure (for example, unitary control can beachieved either by formalized rules or centralized decision-making).Similarly, each type of technology must be coordinated differently and these differentcoordination demands must be accommodated by the organization's structure. Van de Ven etal. (1976) found that different coordination mechanisms were used depending on the degree oftask uncertainty, work flow interdependence and subunit size. As tasks increased inuncertainty, coordination was achieved by mutual adjustment through lateral communication37The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2and group meetings rather than dependence on a hierarchy or impersonal rules. As work flowinterdependence increased, more use was made of all types of coordinating mechanisms—bothpersonal and impersonal. Finally, as subunit size increased, coordination became less personaland relied more on hierarchical rules and policies.In summary, according to these researchers, technology or more specifically, the demand forcontrol and coordination imposed by the technology, is the relevant environmental factor whichshapes an organization's structure: unit technologies imply more flexible organizations withfew hierarchical levels and employees with generalist skill sets; mass production technologiesrequire more formalized structures with more specialized skill sets; continuous processtechnologies imply the greatest level of hierarchy but comparatively fewer employees who havespecialized skills and exercise high levels of judgment.Summary of population ecology or natural selection perspectiveMintzberg (1989) summarizes the "contingency" or "situational" factors which influence thestructure of organizations (and vice versa) by presenting a series of hypotheses derived fromthe literature relating to age and size of organizations, technical systems used by theorganization (that is, instruments used by the operators or workers of the organization toproduce the outputs, not to be confused with technology which refers to the knowledge base ofthe organization), environment (factors related to markets, political climate, economicconditions and so on), and power (related to external controls of the organization). Keydimensions of an organization's environment are: stability (or predictability); complexity(characterized by the degree to which environmental demands are rationalizable); marketdiversity (which spans the spectrum from integrated to diversified); and hostility. Mintzberg'shypotheses are presented here:38The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Age and size:1. The older an organization, the more formalized its behavior.2. The larger an organization, the more formalized its behavior.3. The larger an organization, the more elaborate its structure; that is, the more specializedits jobs and units and the more developed its administrative components.4. Structure reflects the age of the industry from its founding...[For example,] industrieswhich predate the industrial revolution seem to favor one kind of structure, those of theage of the early railroads another, and so on...the surprising thing is that thesestructures seem to carry through to new periods...Technical system:5. The more regulating the technical system—that is, the more it controls the work of theoperators—the more formalized the operating work and the more bureaucratic thestructure of the operating core.6. The more complex the technical system, the more elaborate and professional thesupport staff.7.^The automation of the operating core transforms a bureaucratic administrative structureinto an organic one.Environment:8. The more dynamic an organization's environment, the more organic its structure.9. The more complex an organization's environment, the more decentralized its structure.10. The more diversified an organization's markets, the greater the propensity to split it intomarket-based units, or divisions, given favorable economies of scale.11. Extreme hostility in its environment drives any organization to centralize its structuretemporarily.39The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Power:12. The greater the external control of an organization, the more centralized and formalizedits structure.13. A divided external coalition will tend to give rise to a politicized internal coalition, andvice versa.14.^Fashion favors the structure of the day (and of the culture), sometimes even wheninappropriate. (pp. 106-109)Critique of the population ecology or natural selection perspectiveMost critics of the population ecology or natural selection perspective are concerned with itsinherent determinism. Most studies have undertaken little beyond establishing statisticalassociations between uncertainty, types of technology or controls associated with technologyand organization variables; straightforward causal assumptions are made. However, little isknown about the process through which environmental uncertainty and aspects of technologicalcontrol and coordination lead to change in the organization. As Miles and Snow (1978)suggest:Correlational evidence, even when collected on a longitudinal basis, leavesunderlying organizational and managerial processes to be inferred. Consequently,less is known about these processes than about the surface characteristics theygenerate, and causal effects have been attributed to variables that are, in fact, onlyindirectly related (p. 259).Leontiades (1980) agrees:From a purely practical standpoint, it is very difficult to derive statisticallymeaningful relationships between specific environmental factors and collectivemanagement decisions. The possibilities are too overwhelming...It is clearlyimpractical to test every possibility. As an alternative, researchers have tended togroup factors within broad categories to reduce some of the possibilities. Thisapproach has been taken to its ultimate point by authors who use "environment"40The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2as a single factor, with no elaboration of which environmental factors are beingmeasured...To state that environment produces change is on a par with observingthat the gross national product produces growth....In the end, the environmentalforces for change can only provide partial answers. While agreeing in principlethat linkages exist between the environment and the organization, there is noconvincing method for demonstrating the exact nature of such linkages (p. 60).It is the utter disregard for management as the link between the organization and theenvironment and the impact of management choice and strategic decisions on organizationstructure that rankle most critics of this approach. It ignores that organizations can and do adopta variety of forms in response to apparently similar environmental demands. Critics wouldargue that it is managers' perception of the environment that influences organizationalresponses more directly than does some objectively determined variables in the environment.Leontiades argues that organizational change is not in reaction to stimuli but planned anddeliberate, reflecting management strategy (p. 70).Another criticism of this approach is the view of organizations and environments as "globalentities, as though a monolithic environment somehow produces uniform responses across theentire organization" (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 253). It precludes organizations with flexiblestructures. Most organizations are not functionally unified as organisms and it is possible fordifferent elements of an organization to conduct quite separate lives.Another problem with the approach is its difficulty in describing social constructs such asenvironmental uncertainty and technology. Again, critics of this perspective would suggest thatreality is more in the manager's head than objectively determined. Proponents of technology'seffect on organizational structure have implied that structure is caused, or at least greatlyconstrained, by technology. However, Miles and Snow (1978) point out that technology maybe a consequence as much as a cause of organizational structure, that it may be difficult to41The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2identify dominant technological influences in organizations having more than one technologyand that organizational size often appears to be a stronger determinant of structure than doestechnology (p. 258).One last problem with the population ecology or natural selection approach is that it is not toohelpful in shedding light on actual organizational structure. To contend that every situation isunique and that organizational structures depend exclusively on the environments in which theyhappen to find themselves obviates the possibility of analyzing and comparing organizationalstructures in any meaningful way. To relate variables drawn from the environmentaluncertainty or technology to a restricted set of organizational characteristics leads to a set ofdisjointed contingency variables and relationships. Models that aggregate variables to depict theoperation of entire sociotechnical systems in interaction with their environments have not beenforthcoming in the literature. Miles and Snow (1978) feel that Thompson (1967) offers themost useful synthesis of the population ecology approach in the form of an integrated modelwhich suggests that management's basic function is to maintain an effective co-alignmentamong three dynamic elements: environment, technology and organizational structure.(Thompson is discussed more fully in the section on the strategic choice perspective.)Stages of Growth PerspectiveIntroductionThe stages of growth perspective draws an analogy between organizational growth andbiological growth and contends that like all living systems, organizations grow, develop andchange. A key assumption of the stages of growth perspective is that organizations spend mostof their lives in a steady state which is stable and enduring. This perspective focusses onevolutionary change and although it acknowledges the powerful role of environment, in42The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2comparison to the population ecology perspective previously described, it allows thatmanagerial discretion and organizational history also influence organizational change. It is lessdeterministic than the population ecology perspective: managers can speed up, slow down, oreven abort the sequential development of organizations by their actions. This perspective alsodiffers from the population ecology perspective in that it focusses on the single organization asthe unit of analysis, rather than populations of organizations.Studies of organizational stages of growth tend to fall into two categories: life cycles oforganizations and developmental stages of organizations. The former is more conceptual innature and views change as slow and incremental as an organization proceeds from "birth"through maturity to its "death" or decline. The latter offers a more open-ended view andresearch here tends to be based more on empirical findings. Typical of the development stagesview is that transitions from one stage to the next are preceded by chaos, crisis and "muddlingthrough." The equilibrium of the organization is punctuated by abrupt and discrete changes inconditions and organizational structure rather than smooth, incremental processes. It suggeststhat system changes come in packages and that one change provokes another, that is, as theorganization strives for balance along one dimension, it may create imbalances along otherdimensions that ultimately erupt into predictable crises and must be addressed by theorganization.This section briefly describes two major views within the stages of growth perspective: lifecycles and developmental stages. Each is followed by a critique.43The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Life cycles of organizationsHaire (1959) was among the first to argue that, just as there exist systematic processes whichgovern the growth of living organisms, so too are there systematic processes involved in thegrowth of organizations. He suggested that there were five stages in the life of anyorganization: birth, growth, maturity, revival, and decline. Within each stage the variables ofenvironment, structure, strategy and decision-making methods tend to be complementary andintegrated; thus each stage is distinctive. Organizations, Haire postulated, move through thesestages in a linear fashion: the nature and direction of change follows predetermined, predictablepatterns.Lippitt (1969) took a less deterministic viewpoint than Haire. He suggested that there werethree stages in an organization's life: birth, youth and maturity. He argued that organizationaldecline could be avoided and that it only occurs when management fails to notice the need fororganizational adjustment to the environment.Critique of life cycles perspectiveThough this biological analogy of life cycles sounds plausible, Leontiades (1980) believes thatthe parallels are more apparent than real. First of all, organizations are not "born" in thebiological sense, nor do they necessarily "die." Bankruptcy, the organizational equivalent ofdeath, is neither an inevitable nor predictable part of a company's evolution. This may be whyso much attention has been recently given to the notion of organizational renewal andtransformation (Mintzberg, 1989; Levy and Merry, 1986). Secondly, life cycle patterns amongorganizations, even those in the same industry, can vary dramatically. Thirdly, life cycles fail44The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2to explain how an organization grows large by growing differently, through mergers andconglomeration, as opposed to simple replication of itself. The biological analogy is a force fitat best.Developmental stages of organizationsWithin the stages of growth perspective, the developmental stages view relies less on biologicalanalogy than does the life cycle view.Chandler (1962) was among the first researchers to consider developmental stages of anorganization and implications for structure. His was a historical overview of four phases ofdevelopment in organizational strategy and structure, later refined by Fouraker and Stopford(1968) into three distinct, evolutionary types. Type I organizations emerged early in the historyof the large American industrial corporation, characterized by owner management, singleproduct lines and highly centralized decision-making. Type II organizations appeared aroundthe turn of the twentieth century, characterized by activities structured along functional lines,limited lines of related products with a common core technology and specialists whosuperceded the generalists of the Type I structure. Type III organizations appeared during the1920's and 1930's, characterized by a decentralized, divisionalized structure aimed atdiversification of markets and products. Leontiades (1980) notes others who have built uponand modified Chandler's types (Scott, 1973; Wrigley, 1970; and Rumelt, 1974) and he himselfproposes a modification identifying two stages of growth: single business stage andmultibusiness stage, with two subcategories in each, small product and dominant product in theformer, related products and unrelated products in the latter. Single product firms growthrough expansion of their scale of operation. Dominant product firms have diversified to asmall degree but are still quite dependent upon and characterized by their major product-market45The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2activity. Related product firms diversify by adding new activities that are tangibly related to thecollective skills and strengths possessed originally by the firm. Unrelated product firmsdiversify (usually by acquisition) into areas which are not related to their original skills andstrengths, other than fmancial (p. 39).Greiner (1972) is perhaps most closely associated with the modern view of the developmentalstages approach. Although he acknowledged that organizational age and size as well as growthrate in the industry are factors in organizational change, he postulated that there were fivedistinguishable phases through which growing organizations pass. Furthermore, he suggestedthat each phase represented what he termed an "evolution" of the organization, that is, aprolonged period of growth with no major upheaval. This is a time when organizationalmanagement practices, structures and control systems are institutionalized. However, eachphase terminates with a "revolution", a turbulent period which an organization must undergo inorder to continue along its evolutionary path. Organizational management practices, structuresand control systems change dramatically during these crises. Each phase is the effect of aprevious phase and a cause of the next phase. Greiner therefore argued that the historical forcesand decisions of an organization are as important as environmental factors. Furthermore,managers are the main levers for evolutionary and revolutionary growth. As such, they must beaware of the growth phase of their organization, take advantage of opportunities and adapt tothe predictable crises; otherwise, they may apply inappropriate measures or not recognize alimited range of solutions appropriate to the organizational phase and freeze the organization intime.46The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2The stages which Greiner postulated were:1. Creativity: This phase is characterized by entrepreneurial approaches and informalcommunication. As the organization expands, these approaches become inadequate andgive rise to a leadership crisis, the need for a leader to pull the organization together.2. Direction: This phase is characterized by a more rigid, functional organizationalstructure and formal communication. This phase typically ends in an autonomy crisiswhere lower level managers insist on more autonomy.3. Delegation: This phase is characterized by a decentralized organizational structure withless of a "hands-on" approach to management by the executive. As the top decision-makers of the organization fear loss of control, a control crisis erupts.4. Coordination: In this phase, decentralized units are replaced by product groups andorganization-wide regulatory controls are put into place. Predictably, over time, thebureaucracy gets in the way and this phase concludes with a red tape crisis.5.^Collaboration: This phase is characterized by emphasis on interdisciplinary and cross-functional teams. Frequently, matrix structures are used to accommodate the teamwork.Greiner was unsure of what crisis would precipitate at the end of this phase butsuggested that it may be predicated upon the need for organizations to strike a finebalance between routine tasks and the need to reflect upon future direction.Similar models to Greiner's have been elaborated by Elgin (1977), Miller and Friesen (1980),and Cameron and Whetten (1981). Miller and Friesen, for example, refer to the "quantumtheory of organizational change" whereby long periods of stability in an organization can beinterrupted by short bursts of change or "strategic revolutions." They point out thatorganizations possess a great deal of momentum, or inertia, that serves to inhibit alterations orreforms. Past strategies, structures, goals, political coalitions, ideologies and so on conspire47The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2against change until excesses or deficiencies in the current approach make dramatic reversalsacross a significant number of variables in strategy and structure necessary. At such times,organizations may adopt two distinctly different modes of behavior at different times until thetransition is complete. As Mintzberg (1989) comments:In effect, it may be more efficient to hold onto a form that is going out ofsynchronization with its environment until a major transition can be made to anew, more suitable one. That way, internal configuration can be maintained, evenif at the expense of external fit, and the costliness and disruption of organizationalchange can be concentrated into brief periods of "strategic revolution." (p. 96)Miller and Friesen (1980) further found major "archetypes of organizational transition" in astudy of 36 organizations. The most prominent archetypes among successful organizationswere entrepreneurial revitalization, scanning and troubleshooting, consolidation, centralizationand boldness, and decentralization and professionalization. They conclude that these few majoradaptation strategies are typical of a large variety of organizations (p. 288).Perhaps one of the most exciting recent developments regarding developmental stages appearsin Mintzberg's latest book, Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World ofOrganizations (1989). In his last chapter, he joins together the concept of developmental stagesin the growth of an organization with his seven organizational configurations: entrepreneurial,machine, diversified, professional, innovative, missionary and political. His hypothesesconcerning six stages of organizational growth (formation, development, maturity, decline,turnaround and revitalization) are more fully described at the end of this chapter.48The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Critique of developmental stages perspectiveThough the developmental stages approach makes up for some the shortcomings of the lifecycle perspective, critics find that it still tends to concentrate on the early history of theorganization and fails to adequately explain the idiosyncratic changes of organizations overtime, particularly changes due to external forces (Cameron, 1984; Mintzberg, 1989).Furthermore, "life after death" of an organization is left rather nebulous. Some organizationssettle into particular forms for long periods of time while others break common sequences byreverting back to what seem to be earlier stages. Cameron (1984) suggests that there ispotential for organizations to recycle back through the stages as a result of unusualenvironmental events, leadership turnover, or changes in the membership of the organization(p. 126). Mintzberg (1989) disputes the likelihood of a mature or declining organizationbeginning the life cycle anew, "emerging as a fresh entrepreneurial configuration, much as themythical phoenix arises form its own ashes every five hundred years" (p. 298). Moreover, hefmds it equally unlikely that an organization will revert to some configuration of an earlierdevelopmental stage (p. 299). Despite the inadequacies of this perspective, however,Mintzberg finds that the models about organization developmental stages do capture somethingimportant about organizations, "namely leading tendencies in many of them if not compulsorychanges in all of them—in other words, sequences that are common rather than imperative"(p. 282).49The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Strategic Choice PerspectiveIntroductionSo far, two perspectives on the determinants of organizational structure and change have beenproffered: the population ecology or natural selection perspective; and the stages of growth (orlife cycles) perspective. These perspectives reflect the end of Cameron's (1984) spectrumwhich accentuates the relatively greater importance of environment over managerial influenceon structure and change. This next perspective moves closer to the other end of the spectrumand attaches greater importance to managerial influence: it acknowledges the strategic choicesof management on matters concerning organizational structure and change.Miles and Snow (1978) distinguish between natural selection and rational selection processesof organizational alignment with the environment:The rational selection approach asserts that while environmental conditions largelydetermine the efficacy of different organizational structures and processes, themanagers of successful organizations efficiently select, adopt, and discardstructural and process components to maintain the organization's equilibrium withits environment. (p.19)The strategic choice perspective does not contradict the perspectives which claim thetremendous influence of environmental factors on organizational structure; however, it insertsthe role of top management between the environment and the organization and asserts that it isonly through management choice that organizational alternatives are implemented (Leontia1es,1980, p. 59). This perspective gives credence to management discretion as a primary force inthe shaping of organizations and contends that it is management, not environment, that is theindependent variable in its choice of courses of action to align the organization with itsenvironment (Levy and Merry, 1986, p. 221). It suggests that there are a variety of strategies50The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2available to managers which effectively allow them to modify the environment in which theyfind themselves and determine the success or failure of such adaptations. For example,managers can choose the environment in which the organization operates (as opposed to beingselected by the environment); they can control or manipulate that environment; they can scanand predict in advance environment events and take evasive strategic action (Cameron, 1984,p. 127). In other words, an organization is not at the mercy of an immutable environment; itcan influence its environment.This perspective contrasts the previous two perspectives in at least two ways. First, it ascribesa proactive rather than a reactive role to management in organizations and views managementdecisions as pivotal in influencing organizational structure. However, as Levy and Merry(1986) point out, the view is "dialectical rather than free-will-oriented; it is the degrees ofstrategic freedom and the reciprocal causality that are important, rather than the absolute choicebetween determinism and free will, between causes and effects" (p. 221). Secondly, this viewshifts emphasis from variables which are external to (and uncontrollable by) the organization tovariables which are internal to (and controllable by) the organization. This view rejects themechanical, deterministic proposition that organizations respond in predictable ways toenvironmental conditions. Consequently it shifts the research effort from looking forenvironmental factors which shape organizational behaviour and structure to looking for therelevant management factors inside the organization.Three themes predominate the literature regarding the strategic choice perspective: the creationof environments by organizations; the effect of strategy on structure; and the constraint ofstrategy by structure (Miles and Snow, 1978, pp. 5-8).51The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Creation of environments by organizationsThe first theme is that organizations can and do create their own environments. Child (1972)was among the first researchers to coin the term, "strategic choice" approach, to organizational-environmental relations. He recognized that decisions and evaluations made by managementserve to define organizational relationships with the broader environment. Although heacknowledged that organizational factors of size, technology available, structure and humanresources could limit such decisions to a certain extent, there was still a broad range of strategicalternatives available to management that gave the organization freedom to manoeuvre, changeradically if necessary, but above all, adapt proactively to the environment rather than justacceding to uncontrollable environmental changes. Among the strategies available are: choice ofmarket and environment in which the organization operates; manipulation and control of theenvironment; choice of technologies which allow management control; employment of controlsystems to deal with management size; and scanning of the environment to enable creativeadaptation.Pfeffer and Salancik (1978) echo Child and suggest that there are two basic ways in whichorganizations develop and change: either they adapt to fit environmental requirements; or theyalter the environment to fit organizational capabilities. Some of the ways in which the latter canbe achieved are through mergers with other organizations, diversification, and engagement inpolitical activity to influence matters such as government regulatory policy.Leontiades (1980) makes a slight modification to the work of Child by introducing twodifferent management styles, depending on whether the organization is in a "steady state" or"evolutionary" phase. He defines the former as strategies for growth which are restricted52The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2within present industry boundaries while the latter is diversification into related or unrelatedfields. These definitions resemble strategic competencies identified by Miles and Snow (1978)discussed later.Weick (1969, 1977) also argues that organizations do not respond to preordainedenvironmental conditions but suggests that "environmental enactment" is possible; that is,organizations can create their own environments through a series of choices regarding marketsand products, technology, desired size, and so on. He argues that "organizationalenvironments are acts of managerial invention rather than discovery" (Miles and Snow, 1978,p. 261). He notes that the types of environments which managers can enact are constrained bytwo factors: existing knowledge of alternative organizational forms (managers are reluctant toadopt new, untried organizational structures); and management's beliefs about how employeescan and should be managed. He also notes that the process of enacting environments is never-ending.The co-alignment of organizational structure with continually evolving environmentalconstraints and opportunities has suggested to some researchers that factors influencingorganizational structure are best studied by observing management strategies. This, then, leadsto the second major theme of the "strategic choice" approach, the effect of strategy onorganizational structure.Effect of strategy on organizational structureThe second major theme of the "strategic choice" approach is perhaps best captured by thefamiliar dictum, "structure follows strategy." Proponents of this view suggest thatmanagement's strategic choices shape organizational structure and processes.53The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Chandler (1962), later refined by Fouraker and Stopford (1968), was one of the mostinfluential early proponents of strategy, which he defined as "the determination of basic long-term goals and objectives of the enterprise and the adoption of courses of action and theallocation of resources necessary for carrying out these goals" (p. 13). Initially in the literature,strategy was treated as a "highly complex situational art, an imaginative act of integratingnumerous complex decisions" (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 261). In the past, strategy has beenviewed, particularly by specialists in business policy, in a comparatively narrow sense as adiscrete, conscious and purposeful activity. Many researchers have restricted the definition ofstrategy to the means that enable the organization to achieve its objectives with respect to theenvironment and have neglected to study the processes through which those objectives arechosen and how strategy is linked to structure, process and past and current organizationalperformance. Since then, researchers appear to have adopted a somewhat less rigid definitionof strategy as a pattern or stream of major and minor decisions about an organization's futuredomains. Furthermore, these decisions only take on meaning as implemented through theorganization's structure and processes; that is, the intent of strategy is best inferred through theAction of organizational structure and behaviour (Miles and Snow, 1978; Mintzberg, 1976).This definition of strategy encompasses deliberate and premeditated strategies as well asunintended strategies which emerge from the ongoing behaviour of the organization. Mintzberg(1976) also points out that "the strategy maker may formulate his strategy through a consciousprocess, or strategy may form gradually as he makes decisions one by one" (p. 3).What are these strategies then? And what is their impact on organizational structure?Miles and Cameron (1982) found that organizations adapt successfully to environments whichare turbulent and hostile through implementation of three strategies in sequence: domaindefence, designed to enhance the legitimacy of the organization and buffer it from the54The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2environment; domain offence, which expands current areas of expertise and exploitsweaknesses in the environment; and domain creation, which minimizes risk by diversifying theorganization to safer, less turbulent areas of the environment. Miles and Cameron give someclues to the effect of strategy on organizational structure but are not explicit, other than ingeneral terms, regarding the kinds of structures that best support each strategy.Thompson (1967) offers more information regarding the linkage between strategy andstructure. He argued that the basic function of management was to ensure survival of anorganization by maintaining an effective co-alignment among three dynamic elements:environment, technology and organizational structure. His hypothesis was that organizationstry to identify homogeneous segments of their environment and set up specialized strategicunits to deal with each segment. With respect to technology's influence on structure,organizations will endeavour to seal off core technologies from environmental disturbances. Ifan organization can isolate core technologies from boundary-spanning activities, the result is acentralized, functionally organized structure; if core technologies and boundary-spanningactivities are interdependent, the result is a matrix structure. With respect to the influence ofmanagerial perception of environment on structure, Thompson notes that in a stableenvironment, an organization is not obliged to invest heavily in scanning of the environment;therefore, coordination and control can occur through standardized rules and centralizeddecision-making. Conversely, in uncertain environments, increasingly sophisticatedcoordination mechanisms and decentralized decision-making are required.Galbraith (1972) in his "information processing view of organizational design" drew attentionto the relation between uncertainty, information processing and organization design andsuggested strategies for coping with uncertainty. He said that uncertainty was primarily relatedto the amount of information to be processed around any given task: the greater the uncertainty,55The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2the more information an organization must absorb for effective task performance. In otherwords, the information-processing capacity of the organization must equate with theinformation-processing requirements of the task. Therefore, the amount of information to beprocessed becomes an explanatory variable for organizational design. If organizational rules,policies and procedures are clear, then a task can proceed with little information-processing. Asuncertainty increases, it becomes more difficult for an organization to program and routinizeactivity by preplanning a response. In situations of uncertainty, organizations typically findways to control outputs (for example, by setting targets or goals) rather than controllingbehaviour (for example, by rules or programs). Galbraith proposes an equation: organizationaldesign is dependent on I which is the amount of information-processing needed for effectiveperformance. I is a function of three variables: U, the degree of uncertainty concerning taskrequirements, such as resources needed or time to complete; N, the number of elementsrelevant for decision-making, such as the number of departments, number of occupationalspecialties, clients or products; C, the amount of connectedness or interdependence among theelements that are necessary for decision-making. Galbraith was careful to identify the tentativenature of his ideas. The hypothesis had not actually been tested, except in isolated studiesbrought together to support his basic equation.Miles and Snow (1978) drew a stronger linkage between strategy choice and organizationalstructure by suggesting that organizations develop particular orientations—called "strategiccompetencies"—which lead them to implement various types of strategies at different times andin different ways. Miles and Snow argue that "the effectiveness of organizational adaptationhinges on the dominant coalition's perception of environmental conditions and the decisions itmakes concerning how the organization will cope with these conditions" (p. 21). They suggestthat there are three major problems which management must continually solve. One is anentrepreneurial problem of acceptance of a particular product-market domain and the56The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2commitment of resources toward it. Another is an engineering problem which involves theselection of the appropriate technology for the production and distribution of the particularproducts and services chosen as well as the establishment of new information, communicationand control linkages to ensure proper operation of the technology. The third is anAibLmalladyr42mblem which consists of rationalizing and stabilizing the organizationalactivities initiated in the solution of the entrepreneurial and engineering problems. This isessentially a problem of reducing uncertainty in the organization. Miles and Snow believe thatin most successful organizations, management attempts to articulate a consistent internalorganizational image in much the same way as it attempts to articulate a consistent externalproduct and market image. Much time is spent within the organization to demonstrate how andwhy organizational structure and processes reflect previous decisions and markets and pave theway for future organizational development. At the same time as uncertainty is being reduced,administration must also concern itself with the formulation and implementation of processeswhich will enable the organization to continue to evolve and innovate.They propose four archetypes: prospector, analyzer, defender and reactor. Each archetype hasits own strategy for responding to the environment and a particular configuration oftechnology, structure and process which is consistent with that strategy.The first archetype is called the ramax  organization. Such organizations are inclined to bethe "first in," continually searching for market opportunities and experimenting with emergingenvironmental trends, frequently creating change and uncertainty to which competitors mustrespond. Marketing and research and development experts are the most powerful members ofthe dominant coalition which tends to be large, diverse and ever-changing as new "talent" isbrought in. The organization is typically structured into nonpermanent project teams aroundproducts (rather than functions) with low division of labour and a low degree of formalization57The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2to facilitate rapid response to environmental change. Technology is flexible and prototypical;frequently multiple technologies are present in the organization. However, there is a low degreeof routinization and mechanization—the technology rests with expert employees. Control isdecentralized to operating units who are in the best position to assess current performance andtake appropriate corrective action. Because its many decentralized activities are subject only togeneral top management control, prospector organizations employ complex forms ofcoordination and conflicts are typically resolved through the use of coordinators or integratorswho act as liaison between independent project groups. Such organizations are flexible at thecost of efficiency.The analyzer organization adopts a "wait-and-see" approach and waits for evidence that astrategy will be successful before implementing a new adaptation. It frequently operates in twoproduct or market domains: one is stable, which gives rise to formalized organizationalstructure and processes; the other is changing, which gives rise to a more flexible structurewhich can adapt the most promising ideas of competitors. To cope with both domains, thisorganization employs a dual technological core. Marketing and applied research are the mostinfluential members of the dominant coalition, followed closely by production. A matrixstructure accommodates both the stable and changing markets, combining both functionaldivisions (where similar specialists are grouped together) and self-contained groups withspecific product responsibilities. Control is critical and problematic for this type of organizationwhich must maintain a delicate balance among its differentiated subunits to be successful.Therefore, control tends to be moderately centralized with both vertical feedback loops forfunctional units and horizontal feedback loops for product units. As might be expected,extremely complex and expensive coordination mechanisms are employed in such58The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2organizations. Though this type of organization is ideally suited to balance stability andflexibility, it can never be completely effective or efficient and should the balance be lost, itmay be difficult to restore it.The defender organization seeks stability and is slow to adapt to environmental changes. Itpursues a narrow product domain, often aggressively, and tends to ignore developmentsoutside its domain, preferring instead cautious and incremental growth primarily throughmarket penetration. It relies on a single core technology and seldom adjusts its mode ofoperation, devoting its primary attention to increased internal efficiencies rather than newproduct markets. Financial and production experts wield the most power in the dominantcoalition, marked by lengthy tenure and promotion from within the organization. Theorganization is typically structured along functional lines with extensive division of labour anda high degree of formalization. Control is centralized, coordination mechanisms are simple andconflicts are resolved through normal hierarchical channels. Though stable and efficient, thistype of organization is not well-suited to locating and responding to new product or marketopportunities.Reactor organizations are really non-organizations which implement strategies sporadically,lack any consistent strategy-structure relationship and are unable to follow through with anyconsistent adaptive response to their environment. Miles and Snow suggest three reasons whysuch organizations occur. First, top management may not have clearly articulated theorganization's strategy. Secondly, management may not have fully shaped the organization'sstructure and processes to fit the chosen strategy. Thirdly, management may hang on to anoutmoded strategy-structure relationship despite overwhelming changes in environmentalconditions.59The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2What is appealing about the four archetypes of Miles and Snow is that they bring together thedimensions of environment, strategic choice and structure into a framework useful fororganizational analysis. They preview elements of Mintzberg's (1983, 1989) more extensivesynthesis which appears at the end of this chapter. Miles and Snow note that research byDrucker (1954, 1974a), Chandler (1962) and Perrow (1967) also supports the basic premisethat structure tends to follow strategy and that the two must be aligned for an organization to beeffective.Constraints of strategy by organizational structureThe strategic choice perspective contends that organizations can create their environments andthat structure follows strategy. A third and prevalent theme in the literature on the "strategicchoice" approach is that, just as strategy shapes structure, so too can structure and processconstrain strategy. Once an organization has developed a particular strategy-structurearrangement, it may have difficulty pursuing activities considered to be outside the normalscope of its operation.March and Simon (1958) were among the first researchers to explore why organizationalconstraints arise. For insight, they looked to how individuals make decisions in organizations.They argued that a fundamental function of organizations is the absorption of uncertainty; thatis, organizational structure and processes evolve to limit uncertainty. Where rational decisionsare required by the organization, boundaries are deliberately put around the problems and largeand complex problems are broken down into more manageable pieces. They termed thisphenomenon, "bounded rationality." Cyert and March (1963) expanded on this notion bysuggesting that managers only search in the "neighbourhood" of familiar alternatives whentrying to solve organizational problems. Gradually this type of limited search becomes60The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2routinized so that although the organization may do some things very well (for example,efficiently manufacture its products), it may lose capabilities in other areas (for example,effectively develop new products). In other words, Cyert and March proposed that once anorganization achieves a viable adaptive strategy, managerial parochialism sets in and the searchfor new approaches declines.Thompson (1967) extended Cyert and March's position and argued that both forces outsideand inside the organization inhibit shifts in organizational strategic behaviour. Managementcannot act unilaterally. Major actors in the environment such as customers, suppliers,competitors and regulatory agencies exert pressure on an organization by their uniqueexpectations of it. Internally, the distinctive competencies that an organization has evolvedconstrain the strategies it may use. The internal "limited search" strategy, he noted, makes goodsense both economically and psychologically for an organization. Economically, an extendedsearch process would be prohibitively expensive. Psychologically, a limited search conformswith internal expectations of continuity and predictability in the activities of organizationalmembers, requires no new or threatening adjustments and serves the dominant coalition well,who presumably was instrumental in its creation.Argyris (1977) suggests an alternative reason for constraint of strategy by organizationalstructure and that is the reluctance of managers to engage in what he terms "double-looplearning", the confrontation of underlying causes to problems. He suggests that most managersengage only in "single-loop learning", solving problems only within the confines of theexisting organizational system and neglect to go beyond it and examine both decision outcomesand processes for arriving at those decisions.61The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Whatever the causes of such constraints, the fact that structures can and do constrain strategiesis well documented.Meyer (1979) noted that bureaucratic structures, for example, do not change as rapidly as doshifts in the environment. Consequently, the alignment of such an organizational structure to itsenvironment is greatest at the time of formation but declines steadily thereafter until areorganization becomes necessary. "Structure, which is initially an accommodation to theenvironment, eventually becomes an impediment to change and must be altered fundamentally"(p. 205).Miller and Friesen (1980) concluded that there is tremendous inertia built into organizationswhich causes them to be sluggish when it comes to change. However, they also note,reminiscent of Greiner (1972), that when a transition does occur, it can be revolutionary.In summary, the strategic choice perspective argues the importance of management decisionsabout strategy on the structure of organizations. In particular, it makes three points: (1)organizations can create their own environments; (2) strategy shapes organizational structure;and (3) organizational structure can constrain strategy.Critique of strategic choice perspectiveCritics of the strategic choice perspective find the literature deficient in description of theprocesses by which organizations select and implement strategies. Little is known why specificstrategies are selected by some organizations and not others and there is little information aboutthe impact of these strategies on the environment and the organization (Miles and Snow, 1978).Others question the truth of the equation: strategy + structure = effective performance and62The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2wonder if a more appropriate equation might not be that strategy and structure more simply aidtop management in decision-making (Leontiades, 1980). Organizational structures can befleeting and variations among organizations with similar strategies can be great. The alignmentof organization structure with managerial strategic choice may be necessary but appearsinsufficient as a total explanation for organizational effectiveness.Managerial Influence PerspectiveIntroductionJust as the population ecology (or natural selection) perspective argued the overarchingimportance of environment as a major determinant of organizational structure and change, themanagerial influence perspective finds itself at the opposite end of Cameron's (1984) spectrum,claiming the overarching importance of management as the major determinant of organizationalstructure and change. Through this perspective, structure and process are independent variableswhich can be directly manipulated by management.As mentioned earlier, this perspective reflects some of the earliest classical thinking aboutorganizations and their structure; however, recently the view appears to have experienced arevival under the guise of managerial manipulation of organizational symbols to achieve changein organizational structure and process.Classical perspectiveEarly perspectives paid little attention to the environment but rather focussed on the non-humanelements of organization such as goals, structure, policy and procedures. "Classical theoristswere in effect designing the organization exactly as if they were designing a machine"(Morgan, 1986, p. 27).63The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Weber (1947) first articulated the characteristics of a bureaucracy. He was well aware of thedysfunctions of bureaucracies and indeed, as a sociologist, expressed concern about theconsequences of routinization and mechanization on society. Nevertheless, implicit in his workwas the notion that bureaucratic structures were appropriate for all organizational settings.This paralleled the "scientific principles of management" advocated by Taylor (1911) who sawthem as universally applicable to any organization. In his search for the one best way tomanage workers, Taylor treated environmental demands and organizational objectives as fixed.Fayol (1949), Mooney (1947) and Urwick (1943) were all firm advocates of bureaucracy.Many of the principles of classic management which they espoused still pervade much of thethinking about the structure of organizations today: well-defined hierarchies of authority; unityof command (each employee answers to one and only one boss); a scalar chain of command ofsuperiors and subordinates; limitations on spans of control for optimum efficiency; delegationof responsibility with authority; centralization of authority; and division of work.Critique of the classical perspectiveThese authors implied that bureaucracies were universally applicable to organizations under allenvironmental conditions. This view, however, was short-lived as it became apparent thatbureaucratic structures were unable to adapt well to needs of the individual and changes in theenvironment. Gouldner (1954) provided case study evidence that bureaucracies could beeffective in one setting but damaging in another. Burns and Stalker (1961), previouslymentioned, expanded the notion of contingent forms of organization, noting that successful64The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2firms in stable environments tended to exhibit mechanistic or highly bureaucratized structuresand processes while successful firms in changing and uncertain environments tended to exhibitmore organic or flexible structures and processes.Symbolic action perspectiveMore recent perspectives on managerial influence have emphasized the "symbolic action"approach (Cameron, 1984, p. 129). This approach differs from the "strategic choice"perspective in that it focusses on changes to organizational members' "shared understanding"of organizational symbols rather than changes to organizational structure and technology. Theapproach advocates that organizations are held together by the presence of a commoninterpretation of events, symbols, and stories or legends. It draws heavily from the conceptsdescribed by Berger and Luckman (1967) in their book, Social Construction of Reality.Environmental changes effect organizational change through the mediation of powerfulorganizational members who perceive them and translate them into decisions for restructuring.In this view, a manager's role is "to create, manipulate and perpetuate these meanings so thatthey are accepted in the organization and thereby influence organizational behaviour"(Cameron, 1984, p. 130). A change of the organization's world view brings about change inthe organization's structure and procedures. Methods which a manager might employ to bringabout organizational adaptation are: interpretation of history and current events; the use ofrituals and ceremonies; the allocation of organizational time and measurement to certainactivities in order to convey their importance to organizational members; the redesign ofphysical space as a signal of change; the introduction of doubt and questioning of widely-heldorganizational beliefs. This "symbolic action" approach attributes significant power tomanagers to change the definition of the external environment and organizational behaviour inresponse to these definitions. Unlike the population ecology perspective, it does not assume65The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2that the environment is immutable, but rather that it is a product of social definition. Change isbrought about by changing this definition. Consequently, organizational structure and changeis solely in the hands of the manager.A number of authors have recently popularized this approach. The widely acclaimed book, InSearch of Excellence, by Peters and Waterman (1982), was largely predicated on thisapproach, presenting eight principles of excellence for successful (organic) organizations. Levyand Merry (1986) identify the notion of "second-order change" or "organizationaltransformation" as a "multidimensional, multi-level, qualitative, discontinuous, radicalorganizational change involving a paradigmatic shift" (p. 5). They distinguish this type ofchange from "first-order change" which are those minor adjustments and improvements that donot profoundly change a system's core and occur as the system grows naturally. Second-orderchange is focussed on changing organizational paradigms and myths, reframing problem-solving and communication processes, rechanneling energy and raising and changingconsciousness. Levy and Merry cite 18 researchers who make the same distinctions betweenfirst and second-order change albeit using different terminology and definitions. Ranson,Hinings and Greenwood (1980) suggested that organizational change occurs as a result ofchanging members' provinces of meaning, dependencies of power and contextual constraintsinherent in the organization and environment. Bartunek (1984) studied the relationship betweensecond-order change in interpretive schemes and in structure. She suggested that change isinitiated usually through environmental impetus. Old and new interpretive schemes interactresulting in synthesis. Changing interpretive schemes are affected by, and modify,organizational structure, but the relationship between schemes and structure is not a directone—it is mediated by actions that members take in response to the changing understanding orstructure.66The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2In summary, the managerial influence perspective, be it early classical thinkers or more recentproponents of the symbolic action approach, suggests that the power to effect significantstructural change in an organization rests exclusively in the hands of its management.Critique of the symbolic action perspectiveThe managerial influence perspective ascribes much power to managers, too much according tocritics of this view. It assumes that managers can efficiently shape and control theirorganizational structure and processes by interpreting environmental factors in unique andclever ways but pays little attention to other uncontrollable external and internal constraintsimposed on an organization which may interfere with these perceptions. Critics also expressconcern for the potential of manipulation of organizations by leaders who orchestrate thesymbols of the organization toward their own self-interests and point to the danger ofpoliticization of an organization that could result. This approach views the culture of anorganization as a distinct entity with clearly defined attributes such as beliefs, stories, normsand rituals. Morgan (1986) feels that this is an unduly mechanistic point of view: "Managerscan influence the evolution of culture by being aware of the symbolic consequences of theiractions and by attempting to foster desired values, but they can never control culture in thesense that many management writers advocate" (p. 139). Nor does this body of literature givemuch direction regarding the way in which structures are ultimately affected by "second-orderchanges." Frequently it is assumed that the structures are organic to begin with or held constantas symbolic manipulation occurs.Just as the population ecology approach was criticized for being too deterministic with respectto environmental influence, the managerial influence approach can be criticized for being tooidealistic with respect to managerial influence on organizational structure and change.67The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Conclusion and Summary of Organizational Theory PerspectivesClearly the four perspectives offered by organizational theory (population ecology or naturalselection, stages of growth, strategic choice and managerial influence) all elucidate someimportant aspects of forces which influence and change organizational structure andeffectiveness (see Table 1 of Appendix 4). But no single perspective sufficiently comprehendsthe forces and each perspective, as has been demonstrated, has obvious limitations. It is akin tothe ancient Sufi story of the three blind men and the elephant: though each man can accuratelydescribe the part of the elephant he touches and draw conclusions from that part, none of theblind men have a clear understanding of what the whole elephant looks like. It would appearthat a synthesis of the perspectives is in order.Before examining a conceptual framework for the study of organizational structure and change,however, it should be noted that, thus far, the literature has concentrated solely onorganizational applications related to the corporate world. Can the lessons derived from generalorganizational theory be equally applied to the world of higher and distance education? Indeed,should they be? To consider these questions, this literature review now examines the literaturefrom higher education and distance education to determine if further clues emerge regardingorganizational structure and change in an educational context.68The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Organizational Structure: Higher Education PerspectivesIntroductionDoes organizational theory regarding corporate organizational structures apply equally well toinstitutions of higher education? There appear to be two distinct and opposite positions inresponse to this question in the literature of higher education. Some researchers contend thatthere is no substantive difference between corporate and higher education organizations orsimply choose to ignore any differences in their studies. In either case, these researchers tendto extrapolate literature from organizational theory and apply them to higher education contexts.The opposing view rejects such extrapolation and contends that educational organizations areunique. There appear to be two aspects to this position. The first focusses on the lack ofstructure (as one tends to think of it with reference to bureaucratic systems) in educationalorganizations (e.g., collegial, political and anarchic models). The second focusses on anapparent different structure in educational organizations (e.g., the notion of "loose coupling").More recently in the literature, a third position is emerging which appears to mark thegravitation of organizational theory toward higher educational literature on structure.Researchers in organizational theory appear to embrace the qualities of higher educationalinstitutions as ones to be emulated by the corporate world.Similarities between Corporate and Higher Education OrganizationsAmong the proponents of extrapolation of organizational theory to institutions of highereducation are Kotler and Murphy (1981), Green (1990), Dill (1982), Tierney (1988) andChaffee and Tierney (1988).69The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Kotler and Murphy (1981) subscribe to the "strategic choice" approach and note that aneducational organization's chosen strategies require certain structures to succeed; however,they acknowledge that organizational structure in higher education is hard to change andgrowth opportunities are limited because of the need to satisfy internal constituents (p. 486). Inorder to transform organizational structure as determined by management strategy, they suggestthe retraining or changing of people who occupy sensitive positions within the organization.Though they acknowledge resistance of an academic culture (one that prizes academic freedom,highmindedness and abstract theorizing) toward business cultures (profit as a worthwhile end)and marketing cultures (institutions which are there to serve and satisfy their publics), theynevertheless stress the necessity of developing a marketing orientation among faculty "in whicheveryone sees his or her job as sensing, serving and satisfying markets...essential if theorganization is to survive in the new environment" (p. 487). Kotler (1975) defines educationalmarketing as follows:Marketing is the analysis, planning, implementation, and control of carefullyformulated programs designed to bring about voluntary exchanges of values withtarget markets for the purpose of achieving organizational objectives. It reliesheavily on designing the organization's offering in terms to target markets' needsand desires, and on using effective pricing, communication, and distribution toinform, motivate, and service the markets. (p. 5)Peck (1982) provides a more succinct definition of marketing as "the systematic cultivation ofexchanges between the college or university and its various publics which (1) promote themission of the institution and (2) meet the needs of the publics.70The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Kotler and Murphy (1981) claim that environmental threats of the future for most colleges anduniversities will be less imposing if strategic planning is judiciously used. Green (1990) agreesthat a marketing orientation serves higher educational institutions well, particularly if emphasisis placed on the use of "enrollment management professionals" as colleges and universitiesbecome more and more enrollment driven (p. 80).Dill (1982) and Chaffee and Tierney (1988) embrace the "symbolic action" approach tostructural change in higher education organizations, in particular, the importance of culture as acritical dimension.Dill dismisses an emphasis on marketing as only aiding the short-term survival of the academicorganization but doing little to increase productivity, commitment and loyalty of theprofessional staff. In fact, market-based techniques, he suggests, may be at odds with the coreideologies of academic life. Under pressure to survive, academic institutions, particularly in theU.S., have adopted management techniques of market-based businesses; however, at the sametime, Dill notes, attention has been drawn to the insufficiency of these techniques alone and theimportance of organizational culture. Japanese organizations are held as a model of the latterand Dill indicates that academic institutions have much in common with them than corporateAmerica. Furthermore, critical segments of the academic culture—the culture of the professionand the culture of the enterprise—have fallen into decline, while the culture of individualdisciplines has strengthened (pp. 312-313). He claims that the maintenance and cultivation of"academic culture" and achievement of common values among faculty is the most importantobjective for any educational organization and can be accomplished through management ofmeaning (such as nurturing organizational myths, identifying unifying symbols, conductingritual observance of symbols and canonizing exemplars) and management of the socialintegration of faculty (such as extending old departments rather than creating new ones and71The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2implementing policies like internal sabbaticals which promote the horizontal and verticalintegration of staff).Chaffee and Tierney emphasize the importance of cultural awareness in higher education as away of helping to achieve organizational goals, analyze and explain differences amongorganizations and implement decisions. Rather than viewing culture as an absolute ontologicalentity and product of an organization, they prefer an interpretive approach, regardingorganizations as cultures that subjectively create their own realities. Within organizationalculture they see three interrelated and interpenetrating dimensions: structure, particularlydecision-making authorities and the role of the leader; environment in Weick's (1977)"enacted" sense; and values, particularly institutional mission and the quality and direction ofleadership:Institutions need structures, enacted environments and values that are congruent.Institutions need to reinforce and develop those congruencies. When thedimensions are incongruent, one undermines the other instead of reinforcing it.The institution cannot develop momentum toward equilibrium when it is headedin diverging directions. (Tierney, 1988, pp. 19-20.)As will be seen toward the end of this chapter, Chaffee and Tierney's (1988) commentsregarding congruence of cultural dimensions prefigure Mintzberg's (1983, 1989) conceptualframework for understanding organizational structure.Differences between corporate and higher education organizationsNot all researchers are so quick to draw similarities between the worlds of corporate businessand higher education; a number of researchers have made the claim that academic institutionsare unique unto themselves. Four major models have been proposed by researchers to explainhow higher education institutions are organized and managed: the bureaucratic model; the72The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2collegial model; the political model; and the anarchic model (summarized in Table 2 ofAppendix 4). While each model contributes to a greater understanding of higher educationalinstitutions, each also has limitations and weaknessesStroup (1966) forwarded the case that there was a resemblance between universities and MaxWeber's ideal bureaucratic model.  He noted that universities are typically organized in ahierarchical fashion: principals and vice-chancellors at the helm; vice-presidents, deans andfaculty in the middle; service managers and support staff at the other end. Formalcommunication channels, rules and policies, and decision-making processes for routinedecision were seen as additional evidence of bureaucracy in higher education.Although it cannot be denied that universities and other higher educational institutions certainlypossess many of the characteristics of a bureaucratic organization, the analogy has limitations.While the bureaucratic model can explain much of the administrative operation of a university(registry, student support services, plant operation, library systems, personnel and financeoffices), it fails to adequately depict the teaching and research functions, and in particular, theprocess of planning and decision-making in the academic sphere. Reference to an organizationchart alone is inadequate to explain the deeper functioning of a university. Notions of academicfreedom and professional autonomy challenge the very basis of bureaucratic models: anacademic's authority is not derived from the hierarchical position of the office but from his orher specialized professional and technical competence (Paul, 1990, pp. 31-32). Baldridge(1978) also criticizes Stroup's static view of the organization which focusses on formalauthority rather than informal influence and power, structure rather than process, the executionrather than formation of policy. Other models have been proposed to make up for theseshortcomings73The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Millett (1962) saw the university based upon a collegial model, a loose community ofspecialized scholars who balance consensus decision-making with preservation of professionalautonomy in making decisions in the best interests of the client. University governance, inMillett's view, would exemplify collegiality: most major academic decisions are voted upon bya senate or academic council; however, faculty make their own decisions regarding research,teaching and evaluation of students. Concerns about performance and standards are dealt within an open and collegial manner.Although Millet's model makes up for the deficiencies of the bureaucratic model in that it betterexplains the nature of professional authority and decision-making at a university, critics of thecollegial model contend that it is too normative, "more a lament for paradise lost than adescription of reality" (Baldridge, 1978, p. 9). In particular, it fails to explain how a universityfunctions in times of crisis, when quick decisions are necessary, when there are clear conflictsof interest between competing parties or when unpopular decisions must be made. Nor does itadequately address the rise of faculty unions, which exhibit pulls toward more rigid andbureaucratic, less collegial environments (Paul, 1990, p. 34).To counter the deficiencies of Stroup's bureaucratic model and Millet's collegial model,Baldridge (1978) proposes yet a third, the political model, to deal with the problem of conflictwhich often precedes decision-making in higher educational institutions. Based on a study ofNew York University in 1968, a volatile time when both students and faculty were challengingthe traditional power structure of universities, Baldridge suggests a political system modelfocussed upon the policy-forming processes and decisions which have a key impact on aninstitution's future. The political model is characterized by: inactivity in policy-making processby the membership and of the organization; fluid participation of the membership in decision-making processes; fragmented interest groups who become mobilized only when their74The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2resources are threatened; conflict which is seen as natural and necessary to promoteorganizational change; limits on formal authority due to a need to negotiate compromisedecisions; and the influence of external interest groups as a power lobby.Baldridge, himself, acknowledges that, while useful for analysis of change and conflictprocesses at universities, the model is limited in its perspective and underestimates the impactof bureaucratic processes, the broad range of political activity and the role of environmental andorganizational structural factors.Like the bureaucratic and collegial models, the political model only gives a partial view of thefunctioning of a higher educational institution and is effective only when combined with theprevious models to adequately address structure and process in governance. Yet another view,the anarchic model, first advanced by Cohen and March (1974), suggests that taking ascientific approach to understand something as complex as a university is somewhat futile.They assert that the term, "organized anarchy," is a much richer descriptor of an academicinstitution characterized by vague and diffuse goals, unclear technologies and fluidparticipation.In a university anarchy each individual in the university is seen as makingautonomous decisions. Teachers decide if, when, and what to teach. Studentsdecide if, when, and what to learn. Legislators and donors decide if, when, andwhat to support. Neither coordination...nor control [are] practiced. Resources areallocated by whatever process emerges but without explicit accommodation andwithout explicit reference to some superordinate goal. The "decisions" of thesystem are a consequence produced by the system but intended by no one anddecisively controlled by no one. (pp. 33-34)Usual theories of decision-making, social order and control, learning and adaptation, andmotivation, according to Cohen and March (1974), are rendered meaningless or impotent in anorganized anarchy. Other tactics for influencing decision-making must be employed such as:75The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2overloading the system with proposals to gain control of decisions; providing "garbage cans"for irrelevant or insignificant issues; managing unobstrusively through interventions of greatimpact but low visibility; and interpreting organizational history to one's advantage. There isalso a role for "sensible foolishness" in such organizations whereby administrators can gentlyupset preconceptions of what the organization is doing.While Cohen and March's anarchic model does have some appeal, particularly because it isgrounded in experience and departs from the view of leadership on purely legal-rational terms,like other models, it provides an additional dimension to our insight but does not replaceprevious models. As Elkstrom (1983) suggests, the anarchic model although normativelyillegitimate is descriptively adequate in contrast to a rational model that is normatively attractivebut descriptively inadequate (p.239). Millett (1980) takes issue with Cohen and March's initialpremises and suggests that they fail to distinguish between the overall direction of theuniversity and problems of priority within faculties who are the real managers of learning,according to Millett (p. 184). While there is generally agreement on overall goals of aninstitution, faculty (given their penchant for professional independence and academic freedom)have considerable difficulty in agreeing on how the goals should be reached (p. 184).Kerr and Gade (1986) agree and acknowledge that ambiguities exist in many areas of aneducational organization but most goals are neither ambiguous or in conflict, most issues aresubject to decision-making somewhere within the organization, the president can choose whichgoals to define and what solutions to work on. Richman and Farmer (1974) similarly discountthe view but suggest that mismanagement is at the root of most institutional problems, notsome inherent characteristic of the organization's structure. Mortimer and McConnell (1978)find this viewpoint too cynical in its implicit deviousness and have pointed out that the weightgiven to theories of pluralism, organized anarchy and professional dominance were a result of76The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2expansion in the 1960's and impacts of fmancial austerity and the need to adapt to marketsmeans that "the old days of organized anarchy are probably over and that greater rationality willhave to characterize the operations of colleges and universities" (p. 164).Mintzberg (1989) also takes issue with Cohen and March's anarchic perspective onprofessional organizations. Mintzberg notes three categories of strategic decisions: those madeby professional judgment, usually by individuals according to norms of their profession; thosemade by administrative fiat, especially around fmancial decisions or the organization of basicsupport service; and those made by collective choice, including the creation of programs anddepartments, hiring and promotion decisions and development of budgets. For Mintzberg,neither the collegial nor the political model of decision-making can adequately explain decision-making in the professional organization; he rejects the notion that strategy in professionalconfigurations is non-existent:It is commonly assumed that strategies are formulated before they areimplemented, that planning is the central process of formulation, and thatstructures must be designed to implement these strategies. At least this is whatone reads in the conventional literature of strategic management. In theprofessional organization, these imperatives stand almost totally at odds withwhat really happens, leading to the conclusion that either such organizations areconfused about how to make strategy, or else that the strategy writers areconfused about how professional organizations must function. I subscribe to thelatter explanation.Using the definition of strategy as pattern in action, strategy formation in theprofessional organization takes on a new meaning. Rather than simply throwingup our hands at its resistance to formal strategic planning or, at the other extreme,dismissing professional organizations as "organized anarchies" with strategy-making processes as mere "garbage cans," we can focus on how decisions andactions in such organizations order themselves into patterns over time. (p. 182)...Thus, we fmd here a very different process of strategy-making, and verydifferent resulting strategies, compared with conventional (especially machine)organizations. While it may seem difficult to create strategies in theseorganizations, due to the fragmentation of activity, the politics and the garbagecan phenomenon, in fact the professional organization is inundated with strategies(meaning patterning in its actions). The standardization of skills encouragespatterning, as do the pigeonholing process and the professional affiliations.77The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Collegiality promotes consistency of behavior, even politics works to resistchanging existing patterns. As for the garbage can model, perhaps it justrepresents the unexplained variance in the system; that is, whatever is notunderstood looks to the outside observer like organized anarchy....Thus, the professional organization is, paradoxically, extremely stable at thebroadest level and in a state of perpetual change at the narrowest one (pp. 187-188).In its assertion that higher educational institutions are unique, research by Weick (1976),March and Olsen (1978), Meyer and Rowan (1978), Elkstrom (1983), Lockwood and Davies(1985), and Birnbaum (1988) combines the best aspects of the bureaucratic, collegial, politicaland anarchic models and, rather than emphasizing a lack of structure, reflect a differentstructure, focussing on how higher educational institutions differ from their corporatecounterparts.Complementing Cohen and March's anarchic vision of educational institutions, Weick (1976)and March and Olsen (1978) observe that schools are unlike other organizations because theyare joined more "loosely." The concept of "loose coupling," Weick claims, provides valuableinsights into the organization of educational institutions. Loose coupling is defined as "coupledevents are responsive but that each event also preserves its own identity and some evidence ofits physical or logical separateness" (p. 3). Elements of an organization are only weaklyconnected to one another. He notes that loose coupling provides potential functions anddysfunctions for the educational organization: while it fosters organizational perseverance, it isnot selective in what is perpetuated; while sensitive to the environment, it can be vulnerable tofads; while good at quick localized adaptation to small continuous changes in the environment,it is poor at standardization, may not learn from adaptations well and may underreact to largerdisturbances in the environment; while transient problems can be sealed off to preserve stabilityof the larger organization, it has considerable difficulty in repairing the defective element; whileorganizational members experience an increased sense of autonomy, the chain of consequences78The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2of authority is considerably shorter, while less coordination is required in such a structure,there is also less capability of effecting widespread change throughout such a structure. Weick(1982) also notes the significant influence of symbolic management and environment on theloosely-coupled organization. The administrative role in such organizations is one of balancingadaptation and adaptability, stability and flexibility. Looseness or tightness of coupling varieswith local environmental changes: those which are continuous give rise to loose coupling whenresources are sufficient to respond to the changes; discontinuous changes in the environment,scarce resources and changes which bear significant consequences for the organization giverise to tight coupling.Meyer and Rowan (1978) also subscribe to notion of "loose coupling" which they define as a"structure which is disconnected from technical (work) activity and activity is disconnectedfrom its effects" (p. 79). They claim that loose coupling in educational institutions is evidencedby: the weak evaluation systems of school inspections and lack of linkage of studentperformance to the evaluation of performance of professional staff; lack of controls in curriculaand technology used within educational organizations; and little direct authority overinstructional work. However, they also note considerable tight control over the classification ofteachers, students, curricula and schools. Meyer and Rowan particularly emphasize thesymbiotic relationship between educational organizations and their environment: educationalorganizations not only incorporate their environments, they are their environments—as theenvironment changes, so does the educational organization. Decoupling maintains thelegitimacy of the educational organization and is a useful strategy for maintaining support in apluralistic environment. The formal structure or function of the educational organization is tomaintain socially agreed-upon rites defined in the societal myths of education. "The formalstructure of an organization is in good part a social myth and functions as a myth whatever itsactual implementation" (Meyer and Rowan, 1978, p. 107). They see the structure of an79The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2organization as "derived from and legitimated by the environment. In this view, organizationsbegin to lose their status as internally interdependent systems and come to be seen as dramaticreflections of—dependent subunits within—the wider institutional environment" (Meyer andRowan, 1978, p. 109).Elkstrom (1983) contends that the four models of higher education structure are complementaryrather than mutually exclusive alternatives and proposes a typology which combines them. Thetypology is presented in matrix form with two dimensions: (1) organizational goals andpreferences (either clear and shared consensus or unclear and in conflict); and (2)organizational processes and technology (either transparent and clear or ambiguous andunclear). He suggests that different situations give rise to different aspects of the typology orinterplay among them. He further proposes that the typology could be used as a conceptualframework to better understand the distinctive nature of educational organizations.Similarly, Lockwood and Davies (1985) attack the issue of uniqueness of higher educationalinstitutions from a slightly different angle. In a study of British universities they claim thatuniversities do possess characteristics in common with other types of organizations but it is thecombination of "those forms with other features, also deriving from the nature of teaching andresearch as activities, which makes the universities unique" (p. 31). These features are:complexity of purpose; limited measurability of outputs; a mixture of autonomy anddependency in the relationship of university to society; the diffusion of authority throughout theorganization; and internal fragmentation due to the high degree of autonomy of internal unitsbased upon professionalism, specialization, tradition and the nature of the activity. Noting thatopen systems theory, in particular developed by Katz and Kahn (1966), underlies theirtheoretical contribution to university structure, Lockwood and Davies (1985) differentiate threeframeworks within the university structure: units, committees and officers. These are80The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2"sometimes confused with the production, governance and administration functions. The factthat there are three frameworks and that they are not synonymous with those functionsconfirms the existence of complexity, fragmentation and the diffusion of authority within theuniversity" (p. 34). Units or academic departments have complex structures, are fragmentedand relatively independent, able to interact with the external environment. Committee structuresare numerous, marked by fluid participation of many organizational members, crisscrossing theorganization both vertically and horizontally. The officer structure repeats the features of thecommittee structure; hierarchies are not clear and responsibilities are ambiguous. Lockwoodand Davies contend that the days of organized anarchy were but a transitory phase, resultingfrom university expansion in the 1960's, that academic institutions are manageable in a limitedway and that key external influences such as financial constraint and the need to adapt tomarkets will bring greater rationality to operations of colleges and universities (p. 41).Birnbaum (1988) also cautions against viewing colleges and universities as mere extrapolationsof the corporate business organization. "Although it is tempting to consider a college oruniversity, in view of its corporate existence, as being comparable in many ways to a businesscorporation, the differences between the two are striking" (p. 28). Like Elkstrom (1983) andLockwood and Davies (1985), Birnbaum proposes a synthesis which integrates the fourmodels higher education organizational functioning into what he terms the "cyberneticinstitution," providing direction through self-regulation and effective administrative leadership.He is careful to contrast three characteristics of educational organizations which are differentfrom business. First, there is the dualism of controls which exists in educational organizations,two structures which exist in parallel with different patterns of coordination and systems ofauthority: one is the administrative hierarchy in which authority is predicated on control andcoordination of activity by superiors; the other is the faculty which value autonomy andindividual knowledge. Secondly, there is the difficulty in identifying a single goal; educational81The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2organizations embrace a large number of conflicting goals. The missions of teaching, researchand service rely on different structures for implementation and no single organization is capableof optimizing all its missions. Thirdly, the source of power is different in educationalorganizations. While reward and legitimate power (using the categorizations of French andRaven, 1959) are common in utilitarian organizations such as business, referent and expertpower are more common in normative organizations such as universities. Other organizationaldifferences which academic institutions exhibit in contrast to business are noted: lessspecialization of work activities; a greater specialization by expertise; a flatter hierarchy; lowerinterdependence of parts; less control over "raw materials" (i.e., students); low accountability;and less visible role performance (i.e., faculty carry out much of their professional activityunseen by administrators and other professionals (p. 21). Birnbaum goes on to identify sixorganizational constraints of the academic institution not necessarily seen in the corporateworld: internal fractionation of administration and staff, where neither administration norfaculty are able to take command, results in the maintenance of status quo; centralization ofadministration in matters such as boundary maintenance of the organization coexists withdecentralization of educational decision-making among faculty; inflexibility of resourcespermits little discretionary spending; there is considerable overlap and confusion amongtechnical (faculty), managerial (administrative) and institutional (board) levels of responsibility;prestige and rank which usually go hand in hand in business are distinct in higher education,the former conferred by the professional group to which a faculty member belongs, the latterconferred by the institution; educational organizations take different approaches to leadership.82The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Convergence of Organizational Theory and Higher Education LiteratureWhile some researchers of higher education insist on the uniqueness of educationalorganizations by proclaiming collegial, political and anarchic models and loosely coupledsystems, recent research into corporate organizations appears to be suggesting otherwise: notthat educational organizations are, or should be, approximating corporate organizations but thatcorporate organizations are, or should be, approximating educational organizations! A numberof corporate organization researchers are converging upon the world of higher education.Drucker (1988), guru of corporate management, dramatically describes the information-basedorganization, the new organizational form predominating the beginning of the next century, andlikens it to among other current organizational forms, the university:The typical large business 20 years hence will have fewer than half the levels ofmanagement of its counterpart today, and no more than a third the managers. Inits structure, and in its management problems and concerns, it will bear littleresemblance to the typical manufacturing company, circa 1950, which ourtextbooks still consider the norm. Instead it is far more likely to resembleorganizations that neither the practicing manager nor the management scholar paysmuch attention to today: the hospital, the university, the symphony orchestra. Forlike them, the typical business will be knowledge-based, an organizationcomposed largely of specialists who direct and discipline their own performancethrough organized feedback from colleagues, customers and headquarters. Forthis reason, it will be what I call an information-based organization. (p. 45)Cameron (1984), in describing four perspectives of general organizational change (previouslymentioned), does so in the context of higher educational institutions.Mintzberg (1983, 1989), far from ignoring institutions of higher education, acknowledges theirexistence frequently. They figure prominently as examples of at least two configurations, the83The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2diversified structure ("multiversity") and the professional structure. The description of the latterconfiguration bears a striking resemblance to descriptions of Baldridge (1977) and Birnbaum(1988), particularly if the political configuration is overlaid on this structure.British organizational theorist Handy (1989) advises that, in their bid to manage specialistprofessionals and maintain competitive advantage, private sector organizations should paygreater attention to higher educational models of governance. Particularly relevantcharacteristics of university management are: an emphasis on leadership rather thanmanagement delegation to highly qualified specialists with concomitant freedom fromhierarchical influence; strong commitment to ongoing professional development strongemphasis on research and development; and collegial decision-making in certain areas ofspecialist technical competence (p. 113).ConclusionSome writers of higher education literature make the case for distinctive organizationalcharacteristics of higher educational institutions (see Table 2 of Appendix 4). Despite theirattempts to capture the uniqueness of educational organizations, the picture still remainsfragmented and far from satisfying. Though the apparent convergence of corporateorganizational literature toward higher education literature is gratifying, an all-encompassingtheoretical framework is required, one that captures not only the population ecology, stages ofgrowth, strategic choice and symbolic action perspectives of corporate organizations but thecollegial, political, and anarchic or loosely coupled models of higher education as well. Beforesearching for such a framework, it remains to consider the literature of distance education todetermine if it sheds any light on the specific nature of distance education organizations.84The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Organizational Structure: Distance Education PerspectivesIntroductionIn comparison to the body of literature from organizational theory and higher educationconcerning organizational structure, not much has been written on the structure of distanceeducation organizations. The majority of this body of literature appears to focus on thedifferences in methodology between conventional and distance education, though recentlysome have argued for a new framework and perspective that "blurs the boundaries" andemphasizes "parity of esteem" and similarities between conventional and distance education(Holmberg, 1979, 1981; Garrison & Shale, 1990, pp. 123-134; Jevons, 1990, pp. 135-144) .However, two themes regarding the structure of distance education institutions do appear tosurface in the literature: one regarding the models of distance education in post-secondaryinstitutions; the second concerning the "quasi-industrial nature" of distance educationenterprises.Models of distance education in post-secondary institutionsSmith et al. (1984) and Rumble (1986) describe different models for distance education foundin the Canadian postsecondary system. These models encompass three types of institutionalstructure: mixed mode (distance teaching programs incorporated into campus-based institutionseither as a separate or integrated function); autonomous distance teaching institutions; andconsortia (Rumble, 1986, p. 102). Perraton (1987) identifies a similar classification ofdistance-teaching institutions.Much literature has been dedicated to mixed mode institutions and attendant difficulties inachieving this mix of conventional and distance education systems. Calvert (1986) andDennison (1986), for example, point out the difficulties for academic institutions and85The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2community colleges in implementing distance education. Factors include: cost; faculty hostilitytoward new instructional roles, technologies, and perceived centralization as an erosion of theirtraditional authority over instructional matters; and difficulties of coordination, ownership andfit between imported materials and local needs. Calvert (1986) notes that autonomous distanceteaching institutions avoid some of these problems and that:...Four Canadian institutions operating primarily at a distance (AthabascaUniversity, Tele-universite, North Island College and the Open LearningInstitute) have created organizational models quite different from campus-basedinstitutions and in some ways from one another. Perhaps the time has come toevaluate these models and draw some conclusions. (p. 105)One of these institutions, Athabasca University, is the subject of a case study conducted byAbrioux and others (1984) which examines structural changes at the university (dissolution ofseparate course development and delivery functions and the eventual emergency of moretraditional faculty roles) under the lens of the collegial, political and anarchic models.Quasi-industrial nature of distance education systemsThe second theme, the quasi-industrial nature of distance education systems, derives primarilyfrom the work of Peters (1969, 1971,1973, 1989). He contends that mass production anddistribution of learning materials as well as the logistical aspects of administering andcoordinating the activities of dispersed populations of students and tutors, involves theapplication of principles drawn from the industrial sector, in particular, organizationalstructures which consist of "rational" working arrangements designed to operate with a fairdegree of predictability. Peters borrows the language of classical management theory andprovides a systematic comparison between distance education structures and industrial in aneffort to demarcate a boundary between distance study and face-to-face methods. For example,like industry, distance education systems are rationalized: the knowledge and skills of the86The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2instructor are "transmitted to a theoretically unlimited number of students by the detachedobjectivity of a distance education course of constant quality" (Keegan, 1986, p. 76). Thelabour of course development, instruction, support and administration is more specialized anddistinct in distance education circles than in traditional education counterparts.Smith et al (1984) agree with Peters' view: "distance education operations usually need to behighly centralized and require a much more directive style, analogous to that need to operatesay a high technology factory" (p. 79).In keeping with Peters, Perraton (1984) identifies seven functions of distance educationinstitutions: development and production of teaching materials or the ability to acquire themelsewhere; storage and distribution of the teaching materials; tutoring, counselling andarranging for feedback to students; systems of records of students, tutors, materials andprocesses; recruitment structures to attract and inform potential students; and capacity forresearch and evaluation. Perraton notes that the latter two are not always present in distanceeducation institutions.Like Perraton, Rumble (1986) identifies similar key functions of distance educationinstitutions: academic departments responsible for curriculum planning, development ofacademic programs and teaching materials; departments incorporated within, or linked to,academic departments which are responsible for the teaching and counselling of students;production and distribution of teaching materials; and administrative functions such asfinances, management services and personnel (p. 112). Rumble provides five interestinggeneralizations about distance education institutions in contrast to their conventionalcounterparts. First, he notes that distance education institutions tend to be dominated byfunctional divisions which arise from distinctions between development, production,87The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2distribution and delivery systems, use of a variety of teaching media, and sharper divisions oflabour than at conventional educational institutions. In larger organizations, functionaldivisions are even more pronounced (p. 115). Secondly, and a corollary of the firstgeneralization, individual academic staff at distance educational institutions experience loss ofcontrol over products of their labour, an issue not frequently found at conventional institutions(p. 226). Thirdly, production management approaches are needed at distance educationinstitutions due to their emphasis on development and production of teaching materials(p. 225). Fourthly, traditional approaches to budgeting and determination of staffing levels arenot readily transferrable to distance education institutions (pp. 225-226). Fifthly, distanceeducation institutions require a greater degree of hierarchical control (p. 226).Rumble points out that the introduction of such industrial principles into an educationalinstitution can be problematic: creative activities such as course development do not alwayslend themselves to rigid production schedules; educators, accustomed to a high level ofpersonal autonomy, may resent its loss in a more regulated and task-differentiated system;"packaging" of knowledge into distance education courses can cause difficulties for educatorswho believe that educational process must attend to the personal as well as cognitive needs oflearners (p. 14).There are some (Willen, 1981; Baath, 1981; and Keegan, 1986) who dispute industrializationas an essential defining feature of distance education, though they acknowledge thephenomenon, particularly among larger institutions.Paul (1990) calls for the need for congruence of management approaches and values in an openlearning organization. He suggests that there are important lessons to be derived from themanagement of open learning organizations for education, other organizations and leadership.88The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2He believes that more and more conventional institutions will "adopt and adapt the structuresand processes of distance education and open learning in responding to the needs of societyand their student" (p. 187). If successful as "learning organizations", they will "continue toprovide models and case studies for the development of organization theory and for theemulation of even private-sector institutions in the 'knowledge' society" (p. 187). Leadershipwhich embraces the concept of open management, a value-driven approach encompassing theflexible principles of open learning, is required not only to run the open learning organizationsof today but the universities of tomorrow (p. 188).ConclusionFrom distance education literature then comes a challenge to more closely evaluateorganizational models of autonomous distance education institutions and a suggestion,particularly through Peters' (1983) industrial perspective, that distance education institutionsmay share greater similarities with the corporate sector than their conventional educationalcounterparts. Though the literature of distance education does contribute one more jigsawpuzzle piece to the picture of the structure of educational organizations, it still does not providea comprehensive view of the whole.89The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Toward a Conceptual Framework for Examining OrganizationalStructureIntroductionOrganizational theory literature has offered four perspectives for the explanation of forces thatshape and change organizational structures: population ecology or natural selection, stages ofgrowth, strategic choice and managerial influence. Higher education literature adds four moremodels: bureaucratic, collegial, political and anarchic or "loosely coupled" structures. It hasbeen noted that the literature of organizational theory has recently embraced and incorporatedsome of these models. The literature of distance education speaks to the quasi-industrial natureof the distance education institution and implies that such organizations may find themselvescloser to corporate organizational structures than their traditional educational institutioncounterparts. Clearly each perspective contains a kernel of truth but does not comprehend theentire picture, causing many writers to express dissatisfaction with previous directions andresults of research.Miles and Snow (1978) express disappointment with the research conducted in the fields oforganizational behaviour and business policy:...theory and research in both of these fields have concentrated overwhelminglyon simple specification and description of existing relationships betweenorganizations and their environments but have largely ignored the processes bywhich these relationships came about. Although the literature on organization-environment relations is growing rapidly, it is still in search of theoreticalparadigms that can fully portray the complexities and dynamics of the behavior oftotal organizational systems. (pp. 249-250)Attempts at synthesis and elaboration appear to be the province of neocontingencytheorists, although we should hasten to add that this perspective has not taken afully definitive shape nor can its adherents be clearly identified. We havecharacterized the neocontingency perspective as one that (1) views managerial andstrategic choice as the primary link between the organization and its environment;(2) focuses on management's ability to create, learn about, and manage the90The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2organization's environment; and (3) encompasses the multiple ways thatorganizations respond to environmental conditions. As the neocontingencyapproach develops, it must give increased attention to the relationships amongstrategic choice and such important variables as technology, structure, andmanagerial ideology or philosophy, and to detecting and displaying for managersthe implications of their current decisions for the long-run adjustment capabilitiesof their organizations. (p. 263)Cameron (1984) agrees with this position and suggests a synthesis of the various perspectivesis useful:...It becomes clear that all four approaches to organizational adaptation will berequired as managers and administrators encounter the postindustrialenvironment. Institutional forms will have to emerge that are compatible with adiversity of environmental elements (the population ecology approach).Transitions to new stages of development will have to be closely monitored andplanned for since they will occur more rapidly and sporadically in thepostindustrial environment (the life cycles approach). Strategic choices bymanagers will be required that enhance the adaptability of the institution byexpanding information search capacities while constraining information-processing requirements in order to make the choices more reasonable (thestrategic choice approach). Interpreting the environment for the institution willbecome an even more critical task for managers due to its complexity andturbulence (the symbolic action approach). (pp. 134-135)Paul (1990) in addressing organizational models predominant in the literature of highereducation observes that "the challenge is to find an approach to leadership which will benefitfrom the insights derived from the four approaches to the organization of higher education" (p.38). Calvert (1986), as has been already noted, shares in this sentiment.Clearly there is a need for a synthesis of perspectives which can be applied to any organizationto analyze the forces affecting its structure. Researchers provide such a synthesis inpredominantly two ways. Some, like Miles and Snow (1978), Cameron (1984), Drucker(1988) and Kanter (1989) are content to describe an idealized organization of the future.Though quite inspiring, the pictures that emerge are, at best, rich descriptions which aredifficult to apply in any meaningful way to present day organizational structures. Furthermore,91The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2the "one best way" approach leaves little room for in-depth analysis and comparison of diverseyet equally effective organizational structures. A structure either resembles the ideal or it doesnot. Others, like Levy and Merry (1986) and Mintzberg (1989), described toward the end ofthis chapter, identify an integrated and generalized conceptual framework which, in the writer'sopinion, provides a more useful foundation for research.The following sections describe researchers' efforts to describe the ideal organization of thefuture and develop comprehensive conceptual frameworks by which to analyze organizationalstructures and change within them. Mintzberg's framework is chosen as the theoreticalunderpinning of this study: his seven organizational structures or configurations andhypotheses about life cycles of organizations are described in detail.Organizations of the FutureMiles and Snow (1978) describe two possible organizations of the future, extendingChandler's (1962) typology. As described earlier, Chandler suggested three broad types oforganizations: Type I, the single owner organization, typical of organizations prior to thiscentury; Type II, the functional organization (which would correspond to defender or analyzerorganizations in the terminology of Miles and Snow); and Type III, the diversified organization(which would correspond to prospector or analyzer organizations). Miles and Snow suggest aType DIA and Type IV organization to meet future needs. Type IIIA describes a matrixorganization that can simultaneously accommodate stable and changing areas of operation. Anexample would be a diversified organization that can accommodate some areas of flexibilitywithin the framework of an overall operating plan. Type N describes a "market-matrix"organization, characterized by three features: freedom of project managers and functional unitheads to exchange personnel on an as-needed basis; project personnel drawn from permanent92The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2functional positions; and the ability of any individual to veto participation in a given project.Miles and Snow draw upon the example of colleges and universities which are facing the needfor diversification because of rapid growth in new areas of study and increased student demandfor specialized curricula. Such demands are not easily handled by existing structures basedupon scientific discipline (e.g., biology) or professional area (e.g., business administration).New curricula and research targets can cut across two or more existing departments or fallthrough the cracks between them. They propose that one solution is the market-matrix structurewherein new program directors with salary dollars but no faculty positions would "purchase"faculty from other departments. The incentive for other departments to "sell" faculty would bethe opportunity to bring in staff on a temporary basis from other institutions.Cameron (1984) coins the term, "Janusian institution," to reflect organizations which meetrequirements of the future. He explains that "Janusian thinking" occurs when twocontradictions are held to be true simultaneously, much like an oxymoron composed of twoopposing thoughts holds a larger single truth. Though he applies the term to higher educationalorganizations, the characteristics of "Janusian institutions" are sufficiently general to apply toany organization. Such characteristics would include simultaneous loose and tight coupling:loose coupling would be necessary to initiate innovation and tight coupling would be necessaryto implement it. Cameron speculates that ad hoc structures and matrix arrangements willbecome more common. Other equilibria would have to be maintained: a balance of stability (forstrong organizational identification) with flexibility (in order to adapt to environmentalchanges); a balance between information acquisition and information overload; a balancebetween decision-making consensus and heterogeneity. To accomplish the latter, institutionswould need to rely on "new kinds of computer decision support systems that allow preferencesand interests to be instantaneously aggregated and compared, new varieties of consensus-93The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2building group decision processes, formalized diffusion mechanisms that gather preferencesand build commitment among institutional members when adaptation is required, redundantstructures and process mechanisms that function independently, and so on" (p. 140).More recently, Drucker (1988) describes characteristics of the "information-basedorganization." He claims that there have been two major evolutions in the concept and structureof organizations since modern business enterprise first began. The first, between 1895 and1905, distinguished management from ownership and established management as work andtask in its own right. The second took place 20 years later and introduced the "command-and-control organization" of today, the organization of departments and divisions. Druckersuggests that the third period of change is upon us as a new organization emerges, one heterms the "information-based organization, the organization of knowledge specialists" (p. 53).This organization will be flatter with fewer management levels and fewer managers and greaternumbers of specialists. Knowledge that once resided at the top of the organization will now bedispersed to the bottom. Work will be conducted in task-focussed teams. As previouslymentioned, Drucker maintains that universities are among the organizational structures of todaythat will be emulated by all organizations in the future.Kanter (1989) describes much the same type of organization, which she terms the "post-entrepreneurial organization." It is characterized by the decline of hierarchy, the replacement ofvertical communication channels by horizontal ones and greater cross-department collaboration.She predicts that in these new organizations, the distinction between managers and non-managers will erode.94The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Though these descriptions of future organizational structures can be somewhat inspiring, theyare also sketchy and can be criticized for subscribing to a monolithic, "one-size-fits-all" view oforganizations. Relatively fewer researchers have attempted an integrated or synthesizedconceptual framework through which to study organizational structure. Levi and Merry (1986)and Mintzberg (1983, 1989) are among them.Synthesized Conceptual FrameworksLevy and Merry (1986) describe an integrated model for analyzing organizational change. Itbrings together three "driving forces:" internal, external and the interaction or "fit" between thetwo. Internal driving forces refer to forces such as inner organizational conflicts, organizationalbelief systems and the urge for organizations to grow. External driving forces refer toenvironmental changes which affect the organizational fit with it, for example, change in themarket due to new products or technologies, change in the economy or change in regulatorypolicy. The interaction between these forces creates opportunities for organizational membersto learn, evaluate and make strategic choices. As well, Levy and Merry point out a reciprocalrelationship with the environment: creation of a new product or technology affects theorganizational environment and vice versa. These three forces push the organization to changeand find a new fit with its environment however, the forces are filtered through organizationalcharacteristics, processes and structures which can hinder or facilitate the change. Levy andMerry's model, although compelling and certainly an integration of the diverse perspectives,gives little guidance regarding the kinds of organizational structures that may emerge uponapplication of the change analysis. Nor do their examples relate particularly well to the contextsof higher and distance education.95The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Bolman and Deal (1984) propose a conceptual framework consisting of four "frames" or waysof looking at organizations. The four frames are: rational systems theorists (emphasizingorganizational goals, roles and technology); human resource theorists (emphasizing theinterdependence between people and organizations); political theorists (emphasizing power,conflict and distribution of scarce resources as the central organizational issues); and symbolictheorists (emphasizing problems of meaning in organizations). Morgan (1986) adopts a similarapproach, identifying eight metaphors against which organizations can be compared to deriveinsight into their structures and processes. However, as De Vries (1990) points out, "without aunifying theory to tie together the different frames or perspectives, the researcher could beaccused of adopting a superficial or utilitarian approach to different theories of howorganizations work, alternately using them and discarding them depending on their apparentutility to explain the phenomenon at hand" (p. 14).Khandwalla (1970) found that the success of different organizations could be explained not bypredominance of any single organizational attribute (such as a particular type of planningsystem or form of decentralization), but by how various attributes were interrelated. That is,"there are alternate paths to success, based on an organization's ability to configure theattributes it used" (Mintzberg, 1989, p. 95). The synthesis of over 200 empirical studies into aset of configurations by which organizations structure themselves has been one of Mintzberg'scrowning achievements. Mintzberg (1989) was concerned that:...Academic research on organizations has tended to limit its insight by favoringanalysis over synthesis. In particular, it has tended to focus on how individualvariables arrange themselves along linear scales rather than how sets of attributesconfigure into types, referred to as configurations, archetypes, or gestalts. (p. 95)Configurations are, in essence, systems, in which it makes more sense to talk ofnetworks of interrelationships than of any one variable driving another. (p. 96)96The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Unlike the famous blind men, each of whom touched a different part of theelephant and then argued about its nature, describing organizations asconfigurations can open the eyes of the beholder to the nature of the whole beasts.Each can be seen as a logical combination of its own particular attributes, similarto other members of its own species (configurations) but fundamentally differentfrom other ones. (p. 97)De Vries (1990) notes three reviewers who share in the enthusiasm for Mintzberg'sconfiguration approaches (pp. 88-89). For example, Grinyer (1984) says that while Mintzbergmakes a...useful contribution by reporting a number of results of research on the structureof organizations, its main contribution is synthesizing them into a coherent andintuitively reasonable pattern (p. 152)....Although a personal synthesis, which not all academics in the field like, it isbased securely on the research in most but not all of its assertions and predictions(p. 156).This writer also finds Mintzberg's configurations a particularly compelling conceptualframework which not only embraces previous research perspectives but does not exclude thetypes of organizational structures found in higher education and distance education. It is forthis reason that Mintzberg will be adopted as the conceptual framework for analysis of this casestudy. The final pages of this chapter describe Mintzberg's conceptual framework in depth.Mintzberg's Organizational Configurations: a Conceptual FrameworkMintzberg (1983) notes a number of hypotheses that have emerged from research onorganizational effectiveness. In one sense, these hypotheses serve as a summary of Cameron's(1984) spectrum of organization theory perspectives on organizational structure and change.The convergence hypothesis, which suggests that there is one best way to design anorganization, has yielded to two hypotheses: the congruence hypothesis, which takes intoaccount the impact of environmental factors on an organization and proposes that "effective97The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2structuring requires a close fit between the situational factors and the design parameters" (p.122); and the configuration hypothesis,  which suggests that "effective structuring requires aninternal consistency among the design parameters" (p. 122). Noting that an organization tosome extent can influence both design parameters and its external environment, Mintzberg addsan extension hypothesis which proposes that "effective structuring requires a consistencyamong the design parameters and contingency factors" (p. 136). Mintzberg (1989) identifiesseveral contingency or situational factors which can influence the choice of organizationaldesign parameters and vice versa: age and size of an organization; its technical system ofproduction; various characteristics of the environment; and its power system. These havealready been summarized in discussion of the population ecology perspective.Though Mintzberg has presented a large number of structural variables, he observes that inreality only a limited number of permutations of these variables, or configurations, exist.Though he acknowledges that these configurations are simplifications or caricatures of realityand that some organizations may be hybrids of such configurations (particularly if they are intransition), nonetheless he suggests that there are six common configurations of organizationalstructure (see Table 3 of Appendix 4) that represent typical combinations or "clusters" ofcoordinating mechanisms, design parameters and environments. (See previous discussionregarding the definition of structure.) He argues that organizations are driven toward idealconfigurations in search for harmony among its internal design parameters and its fit with theenvironment. If an organization is inappropriately configured for its environment ortechnology, it is considered to be in a transitory phase, existing as a dysfunctional hybrid insearch of its ideal configuration.98The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Configurations are caused by a set of internal pulls exerted by each of the six organizationalparts and responses to the environment. The strategic apex exerts a pull to lead and maintaincontrol over decision-making. When an organization cedes to this pull, often due to anoverriding need for a strategic vision, a centralized configuration results called entrepreneurialor simple structure. (Note that the names of the configurations have changed between 1983 and1989 editions of Mintzberg's books—the more current name is underlined.) Thetechnostructure exerts a pull to rationalin, ideally through the standardization of workprocesses. When an organization cedes to this pull, often due to a need for routine efficiency inthe organization, a machine or autocracy configuration results. There are two types of machinestructure: if the rationalization is required by a dominant external constituency, the structure istermed "instrument" machine; if the rationalization is required by the organization's ownadministrators, the structure is termed a "closed system" machine. Middle line managers exert apull to balkanize an organization in a search for their own autonomy. When an organizationcedes to this pull, it divides itself into distinct units in order to serve its different marketseffectively. Such a configuration is called diversified or divisionalized. The operating coreexerts a pull to professionalize and minimize the influence of all others (colleagues andadministrators alike) over their work. When an organization cedes to this pull, usually due to aneed to perfect expert programs, a professional or meritocracy configuration results. Supportstaff exert a pull to collaborate in order to involve themselves in the central activities of theorganization. When an organization cedes to this pull, usually due to a need for sophisticatedinnovation, the organization takes on an innovative or adhocracy configuration. There are twotypes of innovative organizations: "operating adhocracies" perform contract project work while"administrative adhocracies" work on projects which serve themselves. Typically, in the lattercase, operating cores are cut off ("truncated") from the rest of the organization or automated.Finally, ideology exerts a pulling together within the organization and results in a missionary organization. When no pull or part of the organization dominates, conflict reigns and the result99The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2is a political configuration, reminiscent of Baldridge's (1971) research. Organizations drivetoward one of these six configurations (seven if the political configuration is considered to be astructure) to achieve a harmony or equilibrium of internal consistency, synergy and fit withtheir external environment. The configurations can be described in terms of their primarycoordinating mechanisms, type of decentralization used, structure of the organization's keyparts, context or environment in which such organizations are typically found, strategy and keyissues facing the configuration.The entrepreneurial configuration is characterized by direct supervision and centralizeddecision-making from the strategic apex. There is little, if any control, by the technostructure orsupport staff and usually few middle line managers or operating core staff. Communication isinformal and the structure is kept simple and flexible, usually dependent on the nature of theperson at the helm. Thus the "culture" of such organizations can vary widely, from autocraticand rigid to exciting and innovative, driven essentially by the personality of the leader. Thisconfiguration is most common in young organizations which face a simple but dynamicenvironment; their strength lies in an ability to outmanoeuvre bureaucracies. The strategy ofsuch organizations rests with the leader, typically to position a malleable organization in aprotected environmental niche. As such, strategy tends to be visionary in the broad sense butemergent in details; that is, the leader knows where he or she wants to go but details of how toget there emerge on a daily basis. Though such organizations are extremely responsive to theirenvironments, they can also be vulnerable and restrictive because so much hinges on the chiefexecutive officer. Although a major strength of the organization, this dependence on the CEO isalso a major liability as his or her attention may become diverted to strategy at the expense ofoperations or vice versa. Examples of such configurations are small manufacturing firms, anaggressive entrepreneurship or a new government department.100The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2The machine configuration is a bureaucratic structure in the Weberian sense that uses theprimary coordinating mechanism of standardization of work processes. Power rests with thestrategic apex and the technostructure in such configurations. Best described as a centralizedbureaucracy, there is a strong element of control and limited horizontal decentralization in sucha configuration. An elaborate hierarchy of line managers and expert staff control and protect theoperating core, anxious to seal it off from external disturbances. This is done through use offormal procedures, rules and regulations, specialized and routine work and sharp division oflabour, usually into functional groupings. The middle line has three major functions: to handleoperating core disturbances; to work with the technostructure regarding standards for the workprocesses; and to support the vertical flow of information in the organization between theoperating core and apex. Support staff are typically internal to the organization rather thanbought in from outside, as a way of further reducing uncertainty in the organization. Suchconfigurations are usually found in more mature organizations and in simple, stableenvironments where large amounts of consistent and predictable products and services arerequired. "As long as we demand standardized, inexpensive goods and services, and as long aspeople remain more efficient than automated machines at providing them—and remain willingto do so—the machine bureaucracy, with all its problems, will remain with us" (Mintzberg,1983, p. 187). Machine configurations are resistant and ill-suited to change their fundamentalstrategy and indeed, must in effect change configuration in order to change strategy. AsMintzberg (1989) points out:This, however, should come as no surprise. After all, machines are specializedinstruments, designed for productivity, not for innovation...Efficiency is theirforte, not innovation. (p. 150)101The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2The problem with strategic change in such organizations is one of information. Informationflows from the hierarchy to the top of the organization. It is left to the managers in the strategicapex to make sense of it yet they lack the detailed information that resides at the bottom of theorganization. Though this organization celebrates in the virtues of efficiency, reliability,precision and consistency, the obsession with control makes for a discontented operating corebecause there is little allowance for creativity or individual decision-making. This, in turn,results in difficulties with coordination at the middle line level which ultimately results indifficulties with organizational adaptation at the strategic apex level. Examples of suchorganizations are those in the business of mass production, mass service or control and safety,such as a major automobile company, a major airline organization, the national postal system,fast food chains like McDonald's or a fire service.The diversified configuration is in some ways an extension of the machine configuration. Thestructure is typically one of loosely coupled, market-based divisions (which are usuallystructured as machines) under a central administrative headquarters. Divisions run theirbusinesses autonomously, subject to performance controls from headquarters which are inplace to standardize the outputs of the organization. Consequently, limited parallel and verticaldecentralization exists in this configuration as middle line managers concentrate their power intheir own units. The environments of this configuration are characterized by market diversity,especially of products or services (rather than clients or regions). Such configurations arefrequently found in more mature, large organizations which are risk-adverse and find growththrough diversification. Mintzberg identifies three distinct stages of growth: "integrateddiversification," which applies to organizations which produce only one output; "by-product orrelated product diversification," an intermediate form where divisions within the organizationsupply one another with products and services; and "conglomerate diversification," the purestform in which each division produces distinct products or services. In such configurations,102The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2headquarters manages the corporate strategy as a portfolio of businesses. In addition tomanagement of the corporate strategy, headquarters can use five additional measures to ensurethat the goals of the organization are met: (1) allocation of overall financial resources; (2)implementation of performance control systems; (3) appointment and replacement of divisionalmanagers; (4) monitoring of divisional behaviour; (5) provision of certain common supportservices to the divisions. The key strategic issue that faces such configurations is whether ornot conglomeration is preferable over breaking into independent businesses. Mintzberg (1989)wonders if conglomerations in reality protect inefficient businesses and discourage innovation.He cautions that the performance control systems used by such configurations sometimesbecome ends in themselves and may encourage socially unresponsive or irresponsiblebehaviour; in other words, the conglomerate becomes so big that it takes on a life of its own.Mintzberg suggests that such configurations are more suited to the private sector whereorganizational goals are quantifiable and measurable and is particularly critical of suchconfigurations in the public sphere where the nature of goals is less quantifiable andmeasurable. Examples of the diversified configuration are found in business corporations butalso in government and education (the "multiversity" phenomenon, for instance).The professional configuration depends on standardization of the skills of highly trainedprofessionals in its operating core, self-regulated by their education and profession, as itsprimary coordinating mechanism. These professionals, in turn, work autonomously in whatMintzberg terms their "pigeon holes" to produce standardized products or services which,given their nature, are very difficult to measure. The professionals have essentially two tasks:first, to categorize or diagnose the product or service required by the client; secondly, to applyor execute a standard program that will respond to the client's need. Thus, this configurationexhibits full horizontal and vertical decentralization of power to the operating core. There isonly a small technostructure and middle line due to little need for coordination. The tasks of the103The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2administrative structure are to manage issues of the organization's boundary (protecting theprofessionals from undue outside disturbances) and resolve any troublespots in theorganization. A large support staff exists for the highly paid professionals. Another term forthe structure is "decentralized bureaucracy" where the operating core of professionals exertmuch collective control. As a result, committees and task forces abound in such organizations.The environment of this configuration is complex yet stable: stable in the sense that asufficiently consistent demand must exist for the product or service to enable standardization ofskills; complex in the sense that a sophisticated set of skills is required to meet this demand.The overall strategy for such a configuration is stable but may appear fragmented as the detailssurrounding it are continually in flux. Strategy in the professional organization is decided bycollegial professional judgment and collective (political) choice. Though it mainly focusses onelaboration of its mission, strategy can also focus upon organizational inputs (such as choice ofprofessional staff, clients and funding), means to perform the mission (such as buildings andequipment) and the structure and form of governance. Typical issues that face suchconfigurations are: difficulties with coordination of the professional operating core (directsupervision and control is seen as antithetical to professional autonomy and responsibility);misuse of professional discretion (professionals may put clients' or self interest above that ofthe organization's); and reluctance to innovate (professionals may prefer "tried and true"solutions over new ones). Examples of this configuration are hospitals, social work agenciesand universities. Paul (1990) flags the open university structure as a particularly strongexample of the professional configuration (p. 30).The innovative configuration is coordinated through mutual adjustment, encouraged by liaisonpersonnel, integrating managers and matrix structures and dominated by support staff (such as,public relations, legal counsel, research and development and human resources departments).The configuration is an example of selective decentralization where functional experts, staff and104The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2line managers, and sometimes operators, work together in multi-disciplinary teams to carry outinnovative projects. The structure is fluid and "organic" with little formalization of behaviour.It avoids bureaucracy strenuously and organizational charts go quickly out-of-date. Anoperating core of professionals exists but there is less standardization of skills than in theprofessional configuration because of the emphasis on innovation rather than standardizedproducts or services. Matrix structures with a plethora of managers are common: functional,integrating and project. There is no clear locus of control: power flows to wherever the relevantexpertise resides. Typically found in young organizations and industries, their environment,like the professional organization, is complex but, unlike the professional organization, ismuch more dynamic, characterized by the use of high technology and frequent changes inproducts due to severe competition. Projects undertaken by such organizations can betemporary (e.g., an Olympic committee); they can also be mammoth (e.g., the Manhattanproject of World War 11). Strategy in the innovative configuration is usually a "grassroots"process which emanates from the bottom of the organization, shaped through management ofthe process of strategy-making and provision of guidelines rather than directed by managers.Mintzberg likens management of strategy in these organizations to driving an automobilewithout having your hands on the steering wheel: "...You can accelerate and brake but cannotdetermine direction" (p. 213). The effectiveness at innovation of such configurations isfrequently achieved at the cost of inefficiency. In addition, staff in such organizations mayexperience difficulty with ambiguity of tasks and conflicts which arise from the ambiguity.Examples of this configuration are space agencies, avant-garde theatre companies, companieswhich design sophisticated, "high tech" products, a rock music recording company or anengineering company which produces prototypes.105The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2The missionary configuration is one of the purest forms of decentralization of power. Itsprimary coordinating mechanism is the standardization of norms which is reinforced throughthe selection, socialization and indoctrination of its members. All organizational members sharein power but subject themselves to powerful normative controls. It can be overlaid on otherconfigurations (usually entrepreneurial); however, it can also evoke its own structure. Thisstructure is loosely organized, often under charismatic leadership. There are several formsaccording to Mintzberg: "reformer," (out to change the world); "converter," (out to indirectlychange the world by attracting members and changing them); and "cloister," (out to create itsown "world" by allowing its members to pursue their unique lifestyle, protected from theexternal world). Its strategy is simple: to pursue a clear, focussed, inspiring mission. It is morelikely to pursue changing the world than changing itself. The primary issues which face theconfiguration are isolation and death of the organization for lack of renewal or assimilation andcompromise of its ideology. Typical examples of this configuration are a kibbutz, volunteerorganizations, religious sects or revolutionary organizations.The political configuration represents the organization where conventional coordinatingmechanisms are replaced by the play of informal power obtained illegitimately and often in self-interest. The result is usually conflict which pulls the organization apart. Decentralization variesin such organizations and structure is subservient to the quest for power which influencesprocesses alongside the structure. The configuration can be overlaid upon other configurationsor it may evoke its own: confrontative organizations, shaky alliances, politicized organizationsand complete political arena are all forms that may evolve, according to Mintzberg. Strategies insuch organizations are motivated purely out of self-interest. Mintzberg notes, however, thatpoliticization is not completely negative. It can serve a functional role if it brings aboutnecessary change which has been blocked by legitimate systems of influence. But as anorganizational entity, it is unstable over any length of time.106The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2These, then, are the seven typical configurations (summarized in Table 3 of Appendix 4) towhich organizations are attracted because of environmental, internal and strategicconsiderations. Mintzberg points out four basic questions that can be used to determine towhich configuration an organization predominantly belongs:1. What are the main groups of operators?2. For each, is their work unskilled or does it require considerable training?3. Do they work alone or must they interact in groups?4. Are their outputs standardized or customized?Unskilled, standardized work carried out alone suggests the machineconfiguration. Extensively trained and standardized work done alone suggests theprofessional one. And the presence of extensively trained workers who requiregroup collaboration and produce customized outputs suggests the innovativeform. (p. 262)Mintzberg notes that the diversified and innovative forms are the most difficult to sustain inpure configuration (the former a conglomerate with no links between divisions, the latter aloose and free-wheeling structure) and are more common in hybrid combinations or transitions(p. 266).Other factors to be considered when identifying configurations are the ratio of support staff tooperators (ratios of three or four to one implying a professional or innovative configuration),clarity of distinction between line and staff (its presence implying machine or diversified, itsabsence implying innovative), and lack of staff (implying entrepreneurial). The preferredcoordinating mechanism and centre(s) of power are also clues.107The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Mintzberg's Life Cycles of Organizations: Predicting Structural ChangeTo his congruence, configuration and extension hypotheses, Mintzberg has recently added twomore: the contradiction hypothesis and the creation hypothesis.The contradiction hypothesis proposes that "the achievement of effectiveness in an organizationgenerally requires the management of contradiction" (p. 272), that is, contradictory forceswithin the organization. Mintzberg (1989) cites the predominating force in each configuration:the entrepreneurial form searches for direction from the apex; the machine form, for efficiency;the diversified form, for concentration of authority of the divisional managers; the professionalform, for proficiency; the innovative form, for continued learning and adaptation; themissionary form, for cooperation; and the political form, for competition. If left to their own,each force contains within it the seeds of its own destruction (e g , unimpeded leadership maydestroy an entrepreneurial organization; too much technocratic control may destroy the machineorganization). Mintzberg also notes that "contamination" of forces may occur where the cultureof an organizational configuration pervades pockets of the organization that are inconsistentwith that culture (e.g., the difficulty experienced by an innovative research and developmentlab existing in a machine configuration). Fortunately, another phenomenon, "containment" offorces, occurs where secondary forces keep the dominant force in check and prevent it fromdestroying the organization. In some cases, "hybrids" or "combinations" of configurationsarise where two or more of the forces exist in rough balance.. The simultaneous existence ofthe forces may be due to "cleavage" or "conversion:" cleavage occurs when the forces are inconflict either voluntarily (for example, when an organization is trying to obtain the best of allpossible worlds) or involuntarily (for example, when an organization is confronted by arbitraryexternal forces); conversion occurs when an organization is in transition from one form to108The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2another. Thus, contradictory forces which must be managed arise from several factors.Mintzberg notes that forces of cooperation, competition or a combination of the two canexacerbate or alleviate the inherent contradictory forces within an organization.The creation hypothesis is summed up by Mintzberg (1989) as follows:The truly great organization transcends convergence, congruence, configuration,and contradiction, while building on them to achieve something more. It respectsthe creation hypothesis. Creativity is its forte, "understand your inner nature" isits motto, LEGO its image. The most interesting organizations live at the edges,far from the logic of conventional organizations... (pp. 280-281)Mintzberg's initial synthesis of the major perspectives offered in the literature was unveiled in1979 in his book, The Structuring of Organizations: A synthesis of the research, and in moreaccessible form in 1983 in his book, Structure in Fives: Designing Effective Organizations. His1989 work, Mintzberg on Management: Inside Our Strange World of Organizations, elaborateson his previous work and rounds out the original five configurations with two more(missionary and political). He also addresses the notion of organizational life cycles or stagesof growth, conspicuously absent from earlier works but helpful in speculation of what kind oftransitions organizations make from one configuration to another. In a postscript to his finalchapter on configurations, Mintzberg presents a rudimentary life cycle model of organizations.Although 42 possible transitions from one configuration to another are possible (49 if aconfiguration transforms back into itself!), Mintzberg notes that certain transitions appear to bemore common than others and that certain configurations appear more commonly at certainstages in the life of an organization than others. He adds that such transitions more commonlyreflect intrinsic forces rather than extrinsic forces independent of the organization (such as,government legislation or shifts in technology); in agreement with Greiner (1972), it is as if the109The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2seeds of destruction are sown in one configuration and drive it either to another configurationor the organization's demise. He presents a research agenda of hypotheses to be verified bysystematic research and identifies common configurations found in four stages:1. The formation stage favours entrepreneurial configurations.2. The development stage favours missionary, instrument-machine or innovativeconfigurations.3. The maturity stage favours closed machine, professional or innovative configurations.4. The decline stage favours political configurations.His 13 hypotheses are summarized below:Formation stage:1. Personal creation: Organizations are typically established in the entrepreneurial form.2. Perpetuation of entrepreneurship: Many young organizations remain in theentrepreneurial form as long as their founding leaders remain in office. The leader'spersonal power and organizational members loyalty to the leader are strong influencesin the perpetuation of this form.Development stage:3.^Precariousness: Entrepreneurial organizations tend to be vulnerable; many die, whileothers tend sooner or later to make a transition to another configuration. So muchpower is invested with the leader of the organization that there is no rational mechanismfor self-correction within the entrepreneurial form; because leaders in suchorganizations have such personal power, they often lose touch with the operations orchange strategies needed to preserve the entrepreneurial form.110The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 24. Institutionalization of charisma: The most natural, if not common, transition for theentrepreneurial organization is to the missionary configuration, at least after thedeparture of a charismatic, visionary leader. Followers, wishing to perpetuate thestrong sense of mission of their departed leader, form a configuration in whichselection, socialization and indoctrination reinforces the established system of beliefs.But relatively few such organizations seem to be left on their own.5. Meritocratization: New organizations dependent on expertise tend to make a relativelyquick transition to the innovative configuration (if its mission focusses on creativedesign) or the professional configuration (if it applies standardized skills). Suchtransitions occur quickly because experts hired into the organization insist on powerearly, rather than deferring to the personalized power of the leader.6. Early experimentation and later institutionalization of innovation: Given a choicebetween the professional and the innovative configuration, many young organizationswill opt for the innovative one, although some will be inclined later to make a transitionto the professional one. Early enthusiasm for ad hoc development of novel solutionseventually gives way to the routine delivery of standardized ones.7. Takeover: Entrepreneurial organizations which are not susceptible to ideologicalpressures and not dependent on expertise tend to be driven eventually to the machineconfiguration, usually first in its instrument form (i.e., power residing with externalinfluencers as opposed to internal administrators). Such organizations are primecandidates for takeover and tend to fall prey to outside influencers (or yield to themvoluntarily for protection), for example, an entrepreneurial firm which comes under thecontrol of a diversified conglomerate.111The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Maturity stage:8.^Imperatives of administration: Missionary configurations, barring the commonlyoccurring demise of such organizations, as well as instrument machine configurations,tend to eventually make a transition to a closed machine configuration. In other words,organizations not dependent on expertise tend to end up as self-serving machinebureaucracies, impervious to external influences. For missionary organizations, timetends to blunt the ideology, converting enthusiasm into obligation, traditions intodogma and norms into rules. They either burn out or administration replaces ideology atthe centre of power. For instrument machine organizations, service to the externalconstituency contains within it the seeds of its own destruction because though externalinfluencers may have the formal power, they can only exercise it through internaladministrators. As the organization grows larger and more complex, internaladministrators acquire increasing information by which to manage the organization andtherefore power at the expense of the external influencers.9. Diversification: The closed system nature of the machine configuration encourages, andis encouraged by, a transition to the diversified configuration. The closed machineconfiguration has incentive to diversify as a means extending its mission acrossdifferent sectors of activity which, in turn, reduces risk and external influence.Mintzberg notes that this transition is relatively minor as the diversified configuration issimply an elaborated form of the machine one.10. Transitional politicization: Most of the aforementioned transitions tend to be driven andimpeded by forms of the political configuration, typically brief confrontations, althoughsometimes prolonged by shaky alliances. Again, there is considerable agreement withGreiner's (1972) predictable organizational crises or "revolutions" here.112The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2Decline stage:11. Eventual politicization: The absence of external control tends to have a corruptinginfluence on the mature configurations, closed machine and professional, driving themeventually toward the political configuration. When the power of administrators in theclosed machine configuration and of the experts in the professional configurationbecomes absolute, corruption is inevitable and produces conflict among insiders as wellas external influencers who notice the conflict and challenge the insiders as well as thelegitimacy of their power. Such transitions need not happen quickly; organizations canremain in this stage for long periods of time, held in check by market competition orprofessional standards or vestiges of an earlier ideology.12. Artificial support or political demise: Barring renewal or some form of artificial support(such as favoured funding from government or a privileged position in themarketplace), an enduring political configuration eventually leads to the demise of theorganization.Renewal stage:13.^Revitalization or turnaround: Organizational renewal may take place in the form ofgradual revitalization or, in the absence of that, dramatic turnaround, the former likelyduring maturity, the latter during demise. In other words, mature configurations suchas the closed system machine, professional and innovative configurations, wherepoliticization has not yet undermined the healthy functioning of the organization, havethe capacity for the gradual process of revitalization. This is the capacity of anorganization to change itself through a healthy mix of politics and ideology whilemaintaining its basic configuration. Mature organizations which are unable to revitalizethemselves may try to protect themselves politically by exploiting some artificial meansof support, but when their survival is threatened, efforts may be made to renew them113The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 2through dramatic turnaround. There are two types: operating turnaround acts on thecost side of an organization's cost-benefit ratio by economizing; strategic turnaroundacts on the benefit side by changing direction.Mintzberg's life cycle hypotheses, in fact, form a research agenda; this case study purports totest some of them.Conclusion for Chapter 2Of all researchers, Mintzberg's synthesis of configurations and its extension to a life cyclemodel offer the greatest opportunity for in-depth analysis of organizational structure andchange respectively. It is for reasons of richness of this framework that it has been chosen asthe theoretical underpinning of this study. Furthermore, other writers have noted thatMintzberg's framework is a particularly complementary and useful one for study of thestructure of educational organizations.This study now turns its attention to the particular case of the Open Learning Agency and itsstructure as it existed prior to the 1992 reorganization.114Chapter 3:Case StudyThe Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Introduction to Chapter 3Chapter 3 presents a descriptive case study of OLA's organizational structure as it existed in itsfirst four years of operation between April 1, 1988 and May 1, 1992. The chapter is dividedinto three parts. The first part examines the origins of OLA, in particular, the history of itspredecessor organizations, the Open Learning Institute (OLI) and Knowledge Network of theWest Communications Authority (KNOW) and their eventual amalgamation. The second partdescribes the structure of OLA between 1988 and 1992, based upon Mintzberg's (1989)defmition of structure (see Chapter 2). The third part summarizes the forces which precipitatedthe need to review the organizational structure in 1991 and eventually to reorganize.Origins of OLAIntroductionThe Open Learning Agency was officially established on April 1, 1988, through the passing ofprovincial legislation, Bill 58, the Open Learning Agency Act. The act identified five purposesof the agency:In collaboration with universities, institutions, boards of school trustees and otheragencies concerned with education, OLA was to:1. Provide an educational credit bank for students,2. Coordinate the development of open learning education,3. Use open learning methods to provide educational programs and services,4. Carry out research related to open learning education, and5^Operate one or more broadcasting undertakings devoted primarily to thefield of educational broadcasting. (p. 2)116The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3OLA was preceded by two organizations, the Open Learning Institute (OLI) established in1978 and Knowledge Network of the West Communications Authority (KNOW) established in1980. The act effectively dissolved these two organizations and created three programmingcomponents within the Agency: the Open University, the Open College and the KnowledgeNetwork.Though the official amalgamation of OLI and KNOW occurred in the spring of 1988, theircoming together was anticipated in the late 1970's by Patrick McGeer, Minister of Education(1975-79) and later Minister of Universities, Science and Technology (1980-86), and WalterHardwick, Deputy Minister of Education (1976-80) and later President and Chair of KNOW(1980-85).It is important to understand the origins of the two organizations to shed light on the forceswhich shaped their eventual amalgamation and therefore the initial structure of OLA. The firstpart of this chapter offers the historical background of OLI and KNOW and events leading upto their amalgamation into OLA. It is not meant to provide an exhaustive account but rather toprovide some insights into the nature of internal and external forces at work in the respectiveorganizations prior to the formation of OLA. 1 It is a history swept with antipathy between OLIand KNOW, different approaches to distance education and use of instructional technology,and conflicting roles in their respective organizational mandates for the provision of distanceeducation in B.C.117The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3OLI BackgroundBeginningsOLI was formally established by an Order-in-Council on June 1, 1978, under the College andInstitute Act. Its mandate was to provide programs of study leading to undergraduate degreesin arts and sciences and non-degree credentials in career, vocational, technical and adult basiceducation subjects. (A codicil was added to the Universities Act in 1979 to give OLI the powerto grant baccalaureate degrees in arts and science in its own name. 2) The instruction in theseareas was to be achieved by distance education means and through collaboration with otherinstitutions. The fulfillment of a dream of the Minister of Education, McGeer, and his DeputyMinister, Hardwick, OLI was created over the widespread opposition of senior administratorsand faculty in provincial universities and colleges and in the face of indifference andmisunderstanding in government.The organization was unique for two reasons. First, it used distance education methods(somewhat novel in itself at the time) and maintained no full-time academic teaching staff onsite, but rather part-time tutors on contractual appointments working from their homes. "Itsstructure resembled no other higher educational institution in B.C. or indeed in Canada"(Moran, 1991, p. 19). Secondly, "the Institute straddled the binary divide and fittedcomfortably into neither university nor college arena" (Moran, 1991, p. 98).Moran describes the skepticism and widespread ignorance of the nature and practice of distanceeducation at the time; in some cases, institutions felt threatened by this new presence on thepost-secondary scene. She attributes the tension, fear and hostility about OLrs presence in the118The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3early years to the original vision that McGeer and Hardwick had for the organization and itssubsequent interpretation into a formal mandate:There was an element of hubris in creating a new provincial institute, but also apragmatic political judgment that a separate institute, with powers similar to itsB.C. peers, was the only way to ensure their goals were met. Yet the newInstitute had a number of unique, innovative and disturbing features whichaffected its credibility and status. As created by McGeer and Hardwick, OLI wasa hybrid organization crossing the conventional divide between universities andcolleges. Moreover, it combined a potentially contradictory credential and servicemandate, though that was not so apparent at first. OLI's mandate also implicitlyallowed for a flexible laddering of educational opportunity from adult basiceducation to degree level. If implemented, this might genuinely overcome some ofthe barriers to access entrenched in conventional higher education systems, andimprove the prospects of equal educational outcomes. However, McGeer andHardwick did not emphasise OLI's unique breadth and comprehensiveness intheir campaign to have the concept accepted. Their focus and rhetoric justifyingOLI's creation were firmly fixed on the Institute's university-level activities.The shape and flavour McGeer and Hardwick gave to OLI came directly fromtheir perceptions of the BOU [British Open University], and their interest inexperimenting with new telecommunications technologies. They ignored ormisunderstood the actual nature and practice of distance education by the BOUwhich relied heavily on print and local tutorial services and was becomingcautious of television. Moreover, they somewhat naively believed all that wouldbe required was quickly prepared, 'wraparound' materials to compensate for the'Britishness' of the BOU materials. They saw 'distance education' as atechnological form of education from the beginning, and would probably haveapplauded Peters' industrial model as the most efficient way to deliver educationat a distance.These perceptions coloured their subsequent dealings with OLI, the resourcesthey gave the Institute, and the attitudes they passed on to Ministry officials.However, they did not build their defmition into the mandate OLI received,thereby laying a base for future conflict with OLI's leaders over the meaning andpractice of distance education. Seeds of conflict were also sown in giving OLI adual role of credential provider and service agency. The former suggested one setof parameters for seeking and being accorded legitimacy. The latter suggested adifferent set. (pp. 122-123)119The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Survival, the first imperativeWith these beginnings, a board comprised of six community representatives and threeuniversity members appointed John Ellis as OLI's first principal. He was seconded fromSimon Fraser University for a period of two years (to August, 1980).Ellis was already well-known in the field of education. He had joined the University of BritishColumbia's faculty of education in 1959 from the school system. In 1965, he moved to SimonFraser University, first as a professor in the faculty of education, later as Director of GraduatePrograms and Dean of Education. He had also worked in a multinational teacher educationproject in Indonesia prior to coming to OLI. Moran (1991) describes Ellis as an effective,pragmatic manager who held strongly to an ideal of quality in teaching and research but waswilling to experiment with innovative educational strategies (p. 131). His interest in distanceeducation had been stimulated by a visit to the BOU in the early 1970's.The first board and management of OLI saw survival as its first imperative and rapidly put intoplace organizational structures, systems and curriculum that made OLI a recognizable, credibleinstitution. They also needed to convince senior administrators and faculty in the post-secondary system that OLI would not threaten jobs or other institutions, would be providingfor a different clientele and could meet quality standards, although perhaps in a less traditionalway from other colleges and universities.In September and October of 1978, the board considered program priorities, organizationalstructure and budgets for 1978-79 and 1979-80 fiscal years. A set of founding principles wasarticulated to identify the ideological boundaries of the new organization and provide directionfor its educational character and cultural norms over the ensuing decade. There were four120The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3principles identified. The first principle asserted OLI's independence. Though the Ministry setthe general boundaries within which OLI would operate, the board determined its ownpriorities and methods to meet that mission. Ellis felt it important to distance OLI from McGeerand Hardwick's personal stake in its creation, in particular, their speculations regarding the roleand use of technology by the Institute and their perceptions regarding the simplicity ofadaptation of purchased BOU materials (Moran, 1991, pp. 134-135). The second principleasserted that students of OLI should not only be assured of the same quality of education thatthey might receive elsewhere in British Columbia but assured of parity with education receivedfrom other post-secondary institutions. This implied coherent sequenced programs, guaranteesof availability of courses and programs and articulation with curricula in the system. Thestudents which OLI wished to attract were those who were geographically remote fromcampus-based institutions, those who were "socially remote" and found such institutionsintimidating for various reasons, those with work schedules and family responsibilitiesinhibiting regular attendance at classes, those with disabilities which prevented attendance atcampus-based institutions and those who preferred to study independently (Ellis, 1979). Giventhat OLI's students were to be adult British Columbians, regardless of geographic, social orpersonal obstacle, a third principle emerged: the importance of access to its programs andconsequently the choice of accessible, "popular" instructional media. "From the beginning,television was downplayed in favour of print and audio learning materials and telephonetutoring. These media posed fewer technical problems or questions about their pedagogicalrespectability" (Moran, 1991, p. 136). The fourth and final founding principle was a pragmaticone: conformity of OLI's programs to the existing system. Ellis (1973) had argued that if aBOU degree were to be imported to British Columbia, its survival depended on compatibilitywith the system and assurance that its credentials would be recognized elsewhere. This wasvery much in contrast to McGeer and Hardwick's grand vision of a BOU-style degree withlarge, interdisciplinary courses (Moran, 1991, p. 139). In summary, the set of founding121The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3principles described an interesting balancing act: conformity with the post-secondary systemand prevailing norms, particularly those of the university, on the one hand; emphasis onopenness rather than exclusivity, resembling the principles of accessibility which characterizedcommunity colleges, on the other hand.The Athabasca University of Alberta and the BOU provided the main models for OLI's earlyorganizational structure (Moran, 1991, p. 143). Athabasca's model resembled the familiaruniversity division of academic and administrative affairs while the BOU comprised four mainfunctional areas: programs (faculty); student services (which included a decentralized systemsof regional offices); production and distribution; and bursarial functions (Perry 1977; Rumble,1982). At first, Ellis chose a structure similar to that of BOU's; in late 1979, the structure wasamended to resemble more that of Athabasca's. It was a flat structure with six directorsreporting directly to the principal: administrative services; student services; program supportservices; and three program areas: university, career-technical-vocational and adult basiceducation (Grant, 1978).3 The structure was advantageous in its informality of decision-making and speedy communication but the disadvantages of wide span of control for theprincipal and awkward internal coordination became more apparent as OLI rapidly grew. Inparticular, tension grew over the lack of coordination of production schedules for coursedevelopment. Consequently, Ellis brought program services and administrative servicestogether and redesignated the head, Dean of Administrative Services. He also combined thethree program areas into one division under a Dean of Program Development (subsequentlyretitled Dean of Academic Affairs). Student services continued to report directly to Ellis. In thisway the span of control was reduced from six to three and the potential for more integratedacademic policy development and program implementation was established. Because oftensions over different attitudes among the program areas toward course development roles,course formats and academic standards, three more structural changes were soon introduced122The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3within the Academic Affairs area: a division of course design, comprising instructionaldesigners, editors and other specialist staff was introduced; student services was moved from adirect reporting relationship to Ellis to Academic Affairs; and coordinators were appointed forgroups of subjects such as humanities, sciences and social sciences (Moran, 1991, pp. 144-145). One striking and unique feature of the OLI was its lack of full-time faculty. Concern overBOU's and Athabasca's bureaucratic and expensive course preparation process involving largecourse teams of in-house academics and instructional specialists as well as cautiousness abouttaking on the trappings of a traditional university (including the cost and expense of researchfunctions) dissuaded Ellis from hiring on full-time faculty. Instead, expertise required forcourse development and tutoring was bought in. The consequences were far-reaching. Now"OLI had to take seriously its mandate to collaborate with others in the educational system toobtain specialist expertise and credibility" (Moran, 1991, p. 146). The lack of faculty alsoserved to clarify the distinct division between development and delivery of programs. A majordisadvantage of this approach was that tutors had no particular allegiance to the organization,no disciplinary community nor any evident role models, a fact which would come back tohaunt OLI's successor organization in the early 1990's. The tutors complained of feelingalienated from administrative and academic decision-making and separated from theircolleagues in Academic Affairs. (The part-time role of senior tutor was created in late 1982 toassist in bridging the isolation felt by the tutors.)Consolidation and restraintThe early 1980's were characterized by greater consolidation of organizational structures,systems and curriculum. Some of the original misapprehension of the system had calmed; inparticular, senior administrators at the University of British Columbia and University of123The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Victoria were now less skeptical of the Institute. The early 1980's, however, were also a timeof considerable fiscal restraint in the post-secondary education system.Ellis departed in July, 1980 and Ronald Jeffels, Principal of Okanagan College since 1974 anda professor of French at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia for23 years prior to that, took over the reins. Moran (1991) describes Jeffels as a leader with aflair for public relations, a "laissez-faire" management style and a penchant for writtencommunications over electronic media, the latter of which would prove to be a major stumblingblock in his relationship with Hardwick (p. 206-207). Jeffels was faced with the immediatechallenge of manoeuvring OLI through an era of financial restraint. OLI was particularlyvulnerable because it did not have large reserves of money nor did it enjoy at this pointsufficient institutional prestige to weather a long storm of restraint successfully. The responseto restraint was a strategy which included greater emphasis on the acquisition and adaptation ofcourseware (as opposed to original development), joint ventures with other post-secondaryinstitutions and contractual work with non-educational organizations interested in using openlearning methods to train and upgrade their employees. It also meant a somewhat harshprioritization of resources: commitment to complete already scheduled programs anddependence on less exotic, inexpensive instructional technologies. Though KNOW was nowfirmly established and could not be ignored as a potential collaborative partner, the Institutesaw few ways to expand its use of the television service without increased funding andtherefore concentrated more on low-end technologies such as print, audiotape andteleconferencing (Moran, 1991, pp. 207-212). This created a (perhaps unwarranted) perceptionof the OLI as educationally conservative (Moran, 1991, p. 232).124The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3The division of course design was disbanded in early 1982, as a result of structural andpersonal tensions, and instructional design staff were returned to program areas. A tiny, newdivision of educational technology was formed to explore uses of new educationaltechnologies, develop systems of course and tutor evaluation and coordinate institutionalresearch and in-house training but this proved to be a controversial and not wholly successfulmove; the division was disbanded a year later.Moves toward amalgamation with KNOWIn 1985, the government moved to amalgamate OLI and KNOW (see last section of this part).In September, 1986, Jeffels retired and Glen Farrell was made Acting Principal of OLI andActing President of the incipient Open Learning Authority. Farrell had come to B.C. in 1975from Saskatchewan to continue a career in continuing education, first as Associate Director,then Director of Continuing Education at University of Victoria. While there he wasinstrumental in developing the University's distance education programs and becameparticularly interested in television and telecommunications (Haughey, 1985). In June, 1985,Farrell took a one year leave-of-absence from the University of Victoria and agreed to serve aspresident of KNOW on the understanding that OLI and KNOW would eventually amalgamate.When he became Acting Principal of OLI, he retained his presidency of KNOW and, in fact,carried out the dual leadership role until the union of OLI and KNOW was finallyconsummated in 1988. Though many of the broad principles and policies on which OLI wasfounded continued under Farrell's leadership, their emphasis changed. For example, he grewimpatient with the term, distance education, which he felt narrowly defined a "toolkit ofpedagogical methodologies" and suggested an artificial dichotomy with more traditional formsof instruction; he preferred use of broader term, open learning, which encompassed distance125The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3education and connoted a spectrum of educational opportunities for the learner (refer todefinitions, Chapter 2). Moran (1991) notes that the change in emphasis that Farrell brought toOLI distanced himself and the eventual Open Learning Agency from his predecessors:Ellis' solution to the question of improving access was to build an organizationwhose programs conformed with the B.C. system, and whose strength cameespecially from its credential powers. Farrell instead moved to emphasise morethe idea of OLI as a service agency, within his concept of a provincial openlearning system. Ellis and Jeffels were, at best, lukewarm about television.Farrell saw television as a vital and potentially effective medium forcommunicating with large numbers of people, not only those actually enrolled inOLI courses. (p. 247)Farrell brought new vitality to OLI. From September, 1986, onward, staff spent much timescrutinizing and integrating policies and procedures of both OLI and KNOW, in preparation fortheir anticipated amalgamation and in keeping with Farrell's wider concept of open learning.KNOW BackgroundBeginningsMoran (1991) notes that there has persisted in B.C. educational circles a view that McGeer andHardwick created KNOW because OLI would not embrace television as a method of teaching(p. 283). This, she feels, may be accurate but is an overly simplistic explanation. She notesthat they did not specify television (or any other medium) in OLI's mandate, though theirinterpretation of distance education as teaching by television was narrower than anyone at OLIor other distance education institutions might have imagined. McGeer could have used hispowers under the College and Institute Act to force Ellis and Jeffels to use more television as ateaching strategy; however, he did not and this suggests perhaps some acquiescence on his andHardwick's part of the technical difficulties in using this medium to achieve desired access forthe students that OLI was intended to serve. When Ellis departed in 1980, Hardwick raised the126The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3possibility with the OLI board of the Institute assuming responsibility for a newtelecommunications authority. Reception to the idea was lukewarm. Instead, in a series of well-orchestrated and clever moves, McGeer and Hardwick circumvented federal restrictions andcreated a separate educational telecommunications authority, called the Knowledge Network ofthe West Communications Authority (KNOW). Hardwick resigned as Deputy Minister ofEducation to become the first president of KNOW and chair of its board.Role conflictsKNOW was officially created as a non-profit society on May 29, 1980, to: cooperate witheducational institutions and other agencies in "development, coordination and delivery ofeducational programs and materials"; "operate a telecommunications network including cable,microwave, satellite and broadcast elements"; "foster, stimulate and participate in thedevelopment and production of high-quality educational programs and materials"; "enter intoany contracts or arrangements...that may seem conducive to the Authority's purposes..."(British Columbia, 1980). The terms of reference were ambiguous and open-ended, to say theleast, and contained within them, seeds of conflict. Implicit within them was a role for KNOWto coordinate distance education delivery. McGeer and Hardwick viewed OLI as acorrespondence institution; KNOW's role was to complement the Institute's work. However,OLI's board saw the Institute's work as distance education. A collision course over the role ofdistance education coordination was inevitable. As such, relations between OLI and KNOWadministrators could be characterized as strained: cordial but distant.Moran (1991) identifies three significant issues which tended to keep OLI and KNOWseparated. One example of the ambiguity of KNOW's boundaries and unease about itsrelationship with OLI was a long-running feud over control and use of the BOU materials that127The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Hardwick had purchased in 1978 (Moran, 1991, p. 288). Hardwick refused to believe OLI'sjudgment that it was not an easy matter of carving up and "wrapping around" the BOU coursesand intimated that the OLI leaders did not have sufficient will to make it work. Yet OLI was notagainst the use of BOU materials; indeed, it had acquired some of them second-hand (alreadyadapted by University of Victoria and International University Consortium) and collaborateddirectly with BOU on others. However, where Hardwick was concerned more with thetelevision components of the BOU courses, OLI was of the opinion that these componentswere minor, although attractive, parts of the courses; the Institute's interest focussed more ontheir print components. Hardwick retained personal control as an agent for the BOU material inthe province, though legal ownership was probably vested with the Ministry and its jurisdictionover non-television materials was dubious. The issue created a sense of mistrust aboutKNOW's territorial ambitions, much as had greeted the initial years of OLI in the system. Asecond issue that diminished OLI's (and indeed post-secondary) interest in KNOW was that,until 1986, the Network was not funded to produce nor even acquire original educationalmaterial and therefore highly dependent on other educational institutions whom the governmentexpected to bear the costs of acquisition or development. 4 A third and final issue that resistedcloser ties between OLI and KNOW was the turbulent relationship of its principals: Jeffels andHardwick both had very different personal styles and views about OLI and higher education inB.C.Hardwick continued as president and board chair of KNOW until June, 1985, when GlenFarrell assumed the presidency of KNOW.128The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Amalgamation of OLI and KNOWAmalgamation of OLI and KNOW, according to Moran (1991), was...logical but not inevitable. Despite feints, delays and compromises, McGeer andHardwick never really deviated from their long-term plan for one organizationproviding the full range of programs and delivery types, and inter-institutionalcooperation to deliver open learning throughout B.C. (p. 289)First attemptsKNOW had barely begun operating when, in 1981, McGeer proposed a closer formalrelationship between it and OLI. Ministry officials were seeking to remediate problems ofuncoordinated distance education programming, particularly as more colleges were beginningto explore distance education with small programs of their own. OLI, though willing tocooperate with KNOW, made it clear that it did not wish to be subsumed under thetelecommunications authority (in fact, just the opposite) nor did it wish to jeopardize its statusand integrity as a deliverer of high quality courses and programs.In 1982, number of factors added to the complexity of the situation, not the least of which werefiscal restraint policies. Ministry officials perceived OLI and KNOW to be in direct competitionfor funding and students and they were no longer sure which one (if either) to fund for systemcourse development activities. The B.C. Association of Colleges was certainly opposed to anysuggestion of centralized program funding at KNOW or OLI: they did not embrace distanceeducation as the panacea for access problems in the way that the Ministry appeared to and theyreasserted the importance of maintaining a comprehensive regional college system. However,colleges were willing to work with OLI with respect to some programs or services (particularlythose they could not readily offer in their immediate encachement areas), relying on its distanceeducation expertise and gradually coming to accept its status as a provincial institute.129The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3In mid-1982, at the request of the Treasury Board, another attempt was made by the twoministries to rationalize the service mandates of OLI and KNOW: OLI was to be givenresponsibility for identifying, coordinating, developing and funding open learning programswith more than regional application; KNOW was to be given responsibility for scheduling andbroadcasting them. Though positively disposed toward the idea, OLI emphasized that it did notwish to be left to offer only those courses that other colleges had no interest in sponsoring. OLIalso rejected the idea of a joint board with KNOW. Inter-Ministry conflicts and cuts inoperating funds delayed further pursuit of the idea. The plan, however, resurfaced in theMinistry of Education's System Mission Statement and OLrs own mission statement. OLIboldly suggested that it should be the prime, though not sole, creator of distance educationmaterials for B.C. and the exclusive distributor of same (usurping KNOW's distributionresponsibilities). The Ministry of Education's System Mission Statement was less ambiguousand demanded that colleges genuinely collaborate with OLI to ensure access to programs whichthey could not offer. To achieve this, the two education ministries proposed an amendedmandate for OLI that included: a coordination role for the Institute; development andmanagement of a system of learning centres for teaching and advising; and creation of a BritishColumbia Open University for the purpose of awarding degrees. The proposal stopped short offull amalgamation of OLI and KNOW at this point, likely due to McGeer's reluctance to seeKNOW's identity subsumed under OLI's more established presence and its differenttechnological and academic orientation.Though OLI accepted the new mandate, further delays were incurred due to a change ofeducation ministers (Vander Zaim to Heinrich) in June, 1983, as well as abolition ofcoordinating councils and the unveiling of the newly re-elected government's restraint policy.The delays permitted time for other issues to foment: in March, 1984, a committee chaired byAndy Soles proposed that OLI lose its degree granting status and eliminate its third and fourth130The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3year university courses to concentrate on sub-degree academic and vocational work. In April,1984, the Distance Education Working Group of the B.C. Association of Colleges, in anextension of arguments previously proffered during the creation of OLI, provided a report tothe Minister of Education and the Minister of Universities, Science and Technology in whichthey argued for centralization of course development and decentralization to the colleges ofdelivery—OLI would only be allowed to deliver distance education courses when collegesthemselves chose not to do so (Beinder, 1984). The suggestion would have relegated OLI'srole to one of service. The issues, however, were not entertained for long. In August, 1984,McGeer, in his desire to see the electronic classroom concept used to its fullest extent,requested that OLI and KNOW establish more formal relationships through joint board andexecutive-level committees dealing with policy and program issues affecting bothorganizations. Again, he stopped short of demanding amalgamation, but a merger now seemedmore inevitable than ever.A common boardIn March, 1985, just as a draft letter of understanding about areas of cooperation was nearingcompletion, Hardwick announced his departure as President of KNOW (but remained as itsboard chairman). In June, 1985, Glen Farrell was appointed as KNOW's new president andon July 11, Cabinet announced its decision to create a common membership for the boards ofKNOW and OLI in preparation for amalgamation and creation of an open learning authoritywhich would "acquire, develop, produce and deliver high quality learning programs andsystems throughout the province and encourage cooperation, coordination and collaborationamong and between all institutions or organizations involved in distance education." The joint131The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3board was asked to advise government on the authority's role, functions and organizationalstructure and legislation necessary to "enable open learning to be carried out in an efficientmanner throughout the province" (Jeffels, 1986).Moran (1991) comments upon the make-up of the common board membership and its effect onthe outcome of the amalgamation. First, there were no longer members from universities orcolleges on the joint board. Secondly, it was dominated by members with close politicalaffiliation to the Minister. Thirdly, only one member (Fred Weber) had more than one year'sexperience with OLI as an organization. Fourthly, the joint board, or steering committee, wasco-chaired by Hardwick and Nigel Hannaford (appointed to the OLI Board in 1984), neither ofwhom had much stake in maintaining Ellis' and Jeffels' original vision of OLI. Hardwick'sforceful vision of an electronic classroom, mixing service and instruction to provide openlearning throughout B.C., superceded any past visions of the respective organizations.The boards of KNOW and OLI struck a strategic planning committee to prepare the reportrequested by the Minister of Education and the Minister of Universities, Science andCommunications and submitted their report in September, 1985. The general content of thereport was approved in principle by both Ministers and in January, 1986, Cabinet also gavegeneral approval to it. The report recommended that an Open Learning Authority be establishedto plan, coordinate, direct and guide open learning in the province. It was to include within itsorganization and structure functions which were currently performed by OLI, KNOW, theCorrespondence Branch, Open University Consortium of B.C. and the Provincial EducationalMedia Centre. The new organization was to build upon open learning efforts to date and sevengoals were set out: to provide a continuum of educational programming including generaleducation, programs relevant to schools, colleges, institutes and universities, workforceupgrading and professional development; to disseminate information about open learning132The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3opportunities; to ensure system-wide evaluation of programs and program materials; to enrichand enhance credit offerings; to avoid duplication of efforts in the preparation and productionof course materials; to encourage entrepreneurial activity; and to provide models of interest tointernational education. The report recommended the establishment of three components toensure and enable needs analysis, program development, assessment and delivery incooperation and collaboration with existing institutions: the Open University of BritishColumbia (to provide university-level programs), the Open Technical Institute of BritishColumbia (to provide career, technical, technological and vocational programs appropriate forprovince-wide delivery) and the Open Public School of British Columbia (to provide programsleading to a Grade 12 credential, the Dogwood Certificate). As well, the Knowledge Networkwould be a part and would continue to provide technological delivery systems, includingtelevision, computers and telecommunications. Also envisaged were: a system of electronicclassrooms; a training office to ensure liaison with communities, business, industry andgovernment; a centralized multimedia production facility; and a marketing unit (Hardwick andHannaford, 1985).An organizational structure unfoldsA project management committee was then struck to begin "phase two," planning for specificdetails of the merger such as structure of the Open University, Open College (a new title for theOpen Technical Institute) and "Open Sector" (a term used to refer to general education),research component, telecommunications, student services, production and marketing, andspace requirements. Various committees, drawing upon expertise in the post-secondary field,considered items such as the possible effects on employees, structure and organization and133The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3lines of reporting, effect of changes in Ministers, advising centres and electronic classrooms,relationships with other institutions and universities, and a consolidated site for the twooperations (Jeffels, 1986).At this time a consultant, Larry McAuley, was also hired to provide recommendations forconsideration concerning the overall architecture of the new organizational structure. Becauseof the unique mandate of the proposed organization, McAuley acknowledged the difficulty increating an organization for which there are no precedents and that it went beyond mereamalgamation of existing activities; indeed, one was "attempting to create a structure anddevelop mechanisms to deal with the future" (McAuley, 1986, p. 3). In this sense the proposedstructure was to be considered evolutionary: "a starting point, not a final solution" (p. 7). In hisproposal, McAuley prefaced his recommendations by considering several organizational issues:direction, scope and nature of the enterprise; flexibility; component autonomy and control; rolesof coordination and complementarity to the system; and need for internal collaboration. Withrespect to direction, scope and nature of the enterprise, he suggested that the board of thenewly created organization would need to devote much of its attention to the proper place of theorganization within the educational community, its current and future direction, and thepriorities and parameters within which it would operate. He stressed that because of its layconstitution, much guidance, advice and counsel would be required from a dynamic andvisionary Chief Executive Officer. Such an individual would not only have to have vision,objectivity and breadth of understanding to provide leadership to the Board but also educationaland management expertise to provide leadership and direction to the operational components ofthe Authority. Secondly, he stressed that, because of the nature and the newness of theorganization, its operational and organizational development would be evolutionary: changewould be inevitable and flexible, planned approaches would be required. It was emphasizedthat the initial organizational structure adopted by the board be considered transitional and that134The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3mechanisms would have to be established for carefully planned integration, development andfuture change. Moreover, when programs were to be planned and resource requirementsidentified, a system-wide rather than institutional or inward-looking perspective needed to betaken. Thirdly, envisaged components were to be considered discrete entities with respect tothe system but needed to be consistent with the Authority's direction and policies as a whole.This ambiguity, further complicated by a last minute change removing the autonomy of thecomponents as discrete employers under the umbrella of the larger organization, causedconsiderable tension and competitiveness in the first years of life for the organization (as willbe seen in the latter half of this chapter). Fourthly, the thrust of the new organization'sactivities were to be multi-faceted: besides being a deliverer of its own program and courseofferings, it was to provide complementary support for educational initiatives of public andprivate sector as well as to provide a central coordination role and guidance for all openlearning activities throughout the province. It was pointed out that these activities must beaimed at enabling the desired results to be achieved, rather than attempting to achieve themthrough its own resources and facilities. Finally, McAuley indicated that, although componentswould have resources of their own, it was important that the resources be shared regardless ofposition within the new organization, best achieved through a project team approach.In regard to structure of the new organization, McAuley recommended the creation of threemajor components: an Open University, an Open College and a Knowledge Network, withmandates and roles similar to those identified by the original steering committee in April, 1986,and each under the direction of a component head. The component head would be charged withresponsibility for managing the affairs of the component in line with the policies of the boardand within the operating policies and controls established by an Executive Council (described atthe end of this paragraph). To recognize that component heads also carried responsibility in theorganization as a whole, they had a second designation of vice-president. As will be seen, this135The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3dual designation was to become a source of much tension in the first years of the organization'soperation. The Knowledge Network was to continue as the television, telecommunication andcommunications component of the Authority. This function could be construed narrowly,limited to television and electronic delivery activities, or widely, comprehending all deliveryand communication functions. McAuley was content to allow either situation to evolve,depending on the impact of new or modified delivery and access systems under exploration bythe organization. If an Open Education (K-12) component were prescribed by the legislation,he envisaged this as a discrete fourth component. He further recommended that a separateadministrative component be established which would provide centralized functions for allcomponents: accounting and fmance; personnel; data processing; program support; and theregistry. (He acknowledged that the mix of the activities in this component would likely changeover time, more perhaps than other components, and would need to be extremely sensitive touser needs to avoid infiltration of bureaucratic, inflexible approaches.) Finally, he alsoproposed that a small Development Directorate be established to carry out research, largely on aproject basis. The directorate would include library operations — it would not carry componentstatus but be attached to the Chief Executive Officer's portfolio. The Chief Executive Officerwould be charged with responsibility for implementing board policies, for ensuring adherenceby components, and for directing, monitoring, and managing the affairs of the organization.The four (possibly five) component heads and the Chief Executive Officer were to interact in abody called the Executive Council. The primary function of the Executive Council, chaired bythe Chief Executive Officer, would be to ensure coordinated planning, policy development,monitoring, and control of all activities carried out by the organization and its components. Insummary, the overall structure recommended by McAuley was quite flat, with a broad span ofcontrol for the Chief Executive Officer. However, it was felt to be manageable in view of the136The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3delegated responsibilities assigned to component heads. Furthermore, a more vertical structurewould have denied recognition of the individual nature of the components. Therecommendations of McAuley were largely followed (McAuley, 1986).A difficult legislative birthLegislation for creation of the new organization (Bill 31, The Open Learning Authority Act)passed first reading in May, 1986, but fell into abeyance when a new election was called andthe Legislative Assembly adjourned in June. In fact, it was not until almost two years later onApril 1, 1988, that the Open Learning Agency came into being. The delays were primarily dueto political events. Vander Zahn replaced Bennett as premier of B.C. in August, 1986, andchose to reorganize the education portfolios by bringing all post-secondary education togetherunder the leadership of one Minister, Russell Fraser.Fraser received much correspondence about the proposed new Open Learning Authority duringthe initial months of his appointment. In July, 1986, the B.C. Association of Colleges wrotehim, raising a number of serious concerns about Bill 31. In particular, they were worried aboutthe autonomous powers of the proposed components and pushed for more emphasis on thecollaboration and cooperation with universities, institutions and boards of school trustees.They also had concerns about the distinctive nature of the legislation and the government'sdeparture from the College and Institute Act in this instance. Similarly the University Councilof B.C. wrote Fraser to remind him that the powers of the open university indicated in Bill 31would necessarily be subsumed under the powers of the Council, per the University Act.137The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Fraser's term, however, was short-lived and in January, 1987, he was replaced by StanHagen, a political newcomer who requested a review of the legislation as he wanted to feelcomfortable with its background before deciding the fate of the new authority. Momentumtoward creation of the new organization was also slowed by the absence of one of its greatestproponents in Victoria: McGeer lost his political seat in October, 1986.Despite the political delays, recruitment proceeded for the Chief Executive Officer and fourcomponent heads of the organization as well as an Executive Director of the DevelopmentDirectorates. In addition, Jeffels and Farrell were instructed in June, 1986, to create a smallrepresentative committee to review the proposed bill and draft regulations (i.e., policies,procedures, limits on activities and powers of the Minister). After significant delays, Bill 31was redrafted in 1987 as Bill 58, The Open Learning Agency Act, and passed third reading onDecember 11, 1987, coming into effect April 1, 1988. One significant difference between Bill31 and Bill 58 was the evolution of the Agency into a single employer, as opposed to theexistence of three discrete employers: the Open University, the Open College and KnowledgeNetwork.This act identified five purposes of the agency:In collaboration with universities, institutions, boards of school trustees and otheragencies concerned with education, OLA was to:1. Provide an educational credit bank for students,2. Coordinate the development of open learning education,3. Use open learning methods to provide educational programs and services,4. Carry out research related to open learning education, and5. Operate one or more broadcasting undertakings devoted primarily to thefield of educational broadcasting.(British Columbia, 1988, p. 2)138The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Moran (1991) comments that:The limited research mandate suggested a new respectability for distanceeducation (or open learning), and a status still somewhere between theuniversities and colleges. The development into an open university and an opencollege reiterated OLrs hybrid nature, upgrading the status of each from that of aProgram to a semi-institution...The service-instructional dichotomy was stillthere... (p. 297)Summary of Origins of OLAFrom the late 1970's and early 1980's, five historical forces emerge which were tosignificantly influence the structure and operation of the new OLA. First, two organizations,OLI and KNOW, were amalgamated which had enjoyed, at best, a strained relationship in thepast. Much of the tension derived from ambiguity over the respective organizations' roles withrespect to coordination of distance education in B.C. and the relative emphases of serviceversus programming in each organization's mandate. Though the amalgamation was designedto resolve and rationalize this matter, the tension persisted into the first years of the Agency'soperation. Secondly, this dynamic was exacerbated by the very different distance educationtraditions brought by the predecessor organizations to OLA. OLI had favoured, for manypragmatic reasons, inexpensive distance education delivery technology, primarily print-basedwith telephone support and little emphasis on television or other telecommunicationtechnologies. On the other hand, KNOW was founded on the premise of television andtelecommunication technologies as vital to the growth of distance education in B.C. Thirdly,while the distinct employer status originally envisaged for each programming componentyielded to the Agency as a single federation of all three, the trappings of separate componentsremained. Staff tended to align themselves with their predecessor organizations anddepartments (components) even though it was the Agency that signed their paycheques. Dualtitles were given to three executive members: not only were they head of their own139The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3programming component but carried Agency vice-presidential responsibilities as well. The roleconflict experienced by these executive members was to reverberate throughout the newAgency structure. Problems of a federated organizational model were also present in theformation of an Executive Council for coordination of planning among the distinctprogramming components, for it was to emerge as the sole locus of senior level decision-making for any Agency-wide issue and become burdened under the weight of detail. Fourthly,the amalgamation of OLI and KNOW incorporated a vision of incredibly broad and uniqueprogramming scope: university, college and adult basic education programming (contributed byOLI); and general interest, schools and children's programming (contributed by KNOW). Thebreadth of programming was to become an issue in the early years of the Agency ascomponents competed for scarce development resources. Finally, tutor alienation, felt in thevery early years of OLI, was to resurface in the early 1990's, with the formation of a newunion, the Open Learning Agency Tutors' Association (OLATA). This too would have itseffect on structural considerations at OLA.140The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Structure of Open Learning Agency, 1988-92, Prior toReorganizationIntroductionThis study now turns to a description of the structure of OLA during the period 1988 to 1992,prior to its reorganization. The structure will be described with reference to Mintzberg's (1989)definition (see Chapter 2) and comment upon three major elements of any organization: theorganization's parts; its coordinating mechanisms; and key design parameters which determinehow activities of the organization are divided and their coordination achieved. With respect todesign parameters, particular emphasis will be given to the organization's approach tocentralization and decentralization of decision-making power and strategy-making as these aresignificant indicators of any organizational configuration and will consequently be useful to theanalysis of Chapter 4. Other design parameters will also be briefly considered. 6Parts of the OrganizationWith respect to the parts of an organization, Mintzberg (1983, 1989) identifies seven majorelements: operating core; strategic apex; middle line; technostructure; support staff; ideology;and presence of internal and external coalitions.The operating core of OLA could be described as those staff involved in the development anddelivery of training and educational programs, which would include instructional designers,program coordinators and managers, tutors and a host of production staff ranging from videoproduction crews to page make-up technicians. In some respects, it is difficult to draw preciseboundaries around the Agency's operating core; for example, some executive members wouldexpand the core to include certain student services as well. It is the Agency's unique, non-traditional methods that make the task of defining the operating141The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3core difficult. Unlike other educational institutions where instruction tends to be the purview of aselect group of individuals (viz., faculty), at OLA instruction is a shared responsibility. Thedelineation of instructional responsibilities is not as clear; that is, aspects of instruction pervadenumerous job descriptions at OLA rather than being centralized in a few key faculty jobdescriptions. As an example, it is enlightening to consider five aspects of instruction which aretypically carried out by faculty positions in contrast to OLA's approach: assessment of learnerneeds; development of programs and courses; implementation of programs and courses;management of the learning process; evaluation of the learning process. At OLA the first twoaspects, assessment of learner needs and development of programs and courses, occur in twomajor ways. Broad program needs assessment and program development are conducted by theinstitutional planning and research area of the Agency, its Planning Councils (described in thenext section), program advisory committees, directors and coordinators. Specific course needsassessment and development are conducted by instructional development project teams consistingof contracted content experts and consultants (who are often faculty of other institutions),instructional designers, technical media specialists and production crews. The third aspect ofinstruction, implementation of programs and courses, is shared by program coordinators,program supervisors, part-time contracted senior tutors and tutors as well as Agency supportservices such as materials distribution and the registry. The fourth aspect of instruction,management of the learning process, is guided by instructional delivery method chosen (e.g.,printed materials, audiotape, videotape, conferencing, computer-assisted instruction) and tutor;the tutor often occupies a facilitative rather than instructional role with respect to the instructionalmethods used at the Agency. The fifth and final aspect of instruction, evaluation of the learning,is shared by directors, program coordinators, program supervisors, part-time contracted seniortutors and tutors as well as Agency support services such as materials distribution, the examsdepartment and other registry services. All job descriptions for these positions share elements ofthe instructional process and it is difficult to distinguish clear lines of instructional responsibility.142The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3On the other hand, because of OLA's methods, there are clearer demarcations betweenresponsibilities for development and delivery of instruction and a greater separation ofinstructional process and content responsibilities. Such dichotomies would not be so readilyapparent to those occupying faculty positions at other institutions as they typically tend to beresponsible for both development and delivery and both content and process ofthe courses in which they instruct.The strategic apex as it existed prior to reorganization consisted of six executive members: GlenFarrell, Tony Bates, Sid Segal, Ian Mugridge, Richard (Dick) Scales, and Lucille Pacey 7 (seeFigure 1 of Appendix 3). Farrell occupied the Chief Executive Officer position, as president ofthe Agency. Appointed by the board, he was responsible for implementing board policies,ensuring adherence by components, and directing, monitoring and managing the affairs of theorganization. (McAuley, 1986). He also maintained direct responsibility for the public affairsdepartment and corporate communications. Bates was the Executive Director of InstitutionalResearch and International Development. There were (and are) three main levels of research inthe OLA research program: system-wide research, information collection and analysis on openlearning activities on a province-wide basis (usually done on contract from the Ministry ofAdvanced Education, Training and Technology); research, information collection and analysison an agency-wide basis (e.g., facts about the Agency, learner profiles, cost-benefit study);research into and evaluation of agency courses, programs and services. The Research Officehad primary responsibility for the first two levels; program and service areas maintainedresponsibility for the third, with assistance where possible from the Research Office. 8International development activities included provision of a variety of products and services tointernational clients, ranging from delivery of individual courseware packages to completeeducational systems. Activity extended around the Pacific Rim, Australia, Asia and the MiddleEast.9 Segal was vice-president of the administrative component, responsible for human143The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3resources, fmance and budget office, facilities and information services (see technostructureand support staff). He also carried corporate responsibility for the development of theAgency's strategic plan. The latter three executive members had dual titles: component headswith programming responsibilities and Agency vice-presidents with corporate operationalresponsibilities.Mugridge was principal of the Open University component and carried corporate responsibilityfor the registry and the B.C. credit bank. 10 Scales was principal of the Open Collegecomponent and carried corporate responsibility for access services. 11 Pacey was generalmanager of Knowledge Network and carried corporate responsibility for resource development(including marketing and fund raising) and the Discovery Training Network. 12 The OpenUniversity offered (and offers) "courses leading to university degrees and, in collaborationwith other institutions, provides 'laddered' or 'cap-stone' programs leading to degrees andqualifications in special fields of study." 13 . An example of the latter includes an agreement withthe B.C. Institute of Technology which enables students with an advanced diploma in anursing specialty to combine their diploma with credits earned from the Open University for anOpen University Bachelor of Health Sciences (Nursing) degree. The Open College provided(and provides) "instruction in a wide variety of areas including trades and technology, healthand human services, business, tourism and basic education." 14 In response to the growingdemand in business and industry for flexible, workplace-centred training, the Open Collegemade workplace training the major focus of its activities. The Knowledge Network broadcast(and broadcasts) "a wide range of general education programming as well as program insupport of instruction offered by B.C. schools, colleges and universities." 15 The most publicface of the Agency, operating an 18-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week television broadcastreaching approximately 400,000 British Columbians a week, the Knowledge Network alsoproduced (and produces) its own programs and provided services such as "computerized144The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3audiographics, audio/video teleconferencing, audiotapes and printed materials." 16 Eachprogramming component received direction from a Planning Council, chaired by thecomponent head, and comprising representatives from the education, business andcommunities at large (as appropriate), and Agency executive members and ex-officio staffmembers. The Planning Councils in some ways acted as grand program advisory committees.Annually each Planning Council received funds from the Ministry to allocate for thedevelopment and acquisition of open learning courseware and programming. Together, the sixexecutive members comprised an Executive Council, chaired by the president. The role ofExecutive Council was to ensure coordinated planning, policy development, monitoring andcontrol of all activities carried out by the organization and its components (McAuley, 1986).The middle line of the pre-reorganized structure could be defined as approximately 20 directorsand managers reporting to executive members. The regulatory technostructure of the Agencycould be described as information services, production scheduling staff of the KnowledgeNetwork, and the budget office. Support staff included administrative staff (secretaries) ofcomponents, human resources, warehouse and materials management, facilities management,the public affairs office, marketing, library, institutional research, registry and access services.Support staff comprised (and comprises) a significant proportion of Agency employees, theoperating core being particularly dependent upon their services.The prevailing ideology of the organization could be summed up by the broader conception ofopen learning introduced by Farrell in the mid-1980's to both predecessor organizations (anddescribed earlier). Although no part of the organization hesitated to embrace this philosophy,145The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3components tended to have their own interpretations regarding the means to achieve this endfor their own distinctive clientele. A unifying ideology was somewhat tempered by a spirit ofcompetitiveness among the components.While competition among components was not necessarily unhealthy, staff coalitions, identitiesand allegiances tended to rest with program components rather than with the Agency. Inparticular, internal coalitions appeared to centre around the predecessor organizations fromwhich OLA was created: the Knowledge Network component was still seen as a unique entityand sometimes regarded as the "favoured child" by former OLI staff. As one executive memberphrased it, in essence KNOW and OLI had been "handcuffed" together as a result of Bill 58.This problem was exacerbated by factors of separate physical locations, historic antipathybetween the predecessor organizations, different working conditions and the tremendous publicprofile enjoyed by the television service. (Each will be described in the last part of this chapteras one of the forces for change.)Coordinating MechanismsOf mechanisms used by organizations to coordinate activities within and among the variousparts, Mintzberg (1989) claims there are generally six: mutual adjustment; direct supervision;standardization of work processes; standardization of outputs; standardization of skills orknowledge; and standardization of norms. Of these, it was perceived by executive membersthat three of the six were primarily used at the Agency prior to reorganization, albeit weakly:direct supervision; standardization of work processes; and standardization of outputs. Directsupervision speaks for itself. Work processes varied across the organization and evolved,dependent somewhat on the expertise and prior experience of individuals who had come to theorganization. Examples of work processes would include production of television broadcasts146The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3and development of instructional materials (the "phased deliverables model", later called the"project management model"). Components exercised a fair amount of discretion regarding theinterpretation and application of work processes. Even the "project management model"provided for individual component interpretation. The title of the document outlining aconsensus of project procedures assembled painstakingly by a cross-Agency committee over aperiod of two years is revealing: "OLA project management model and guidelines for roles,responsibilities and deliverables" (emphasis supplied). The major examples of organizationaloutputs would be numbers and types of collaborative agreements entered into by the Agency,weekly viewer audience reach, 17 and program enrollments. It is interesting to note that Farrellsuccessfully argued with the Ministry of Advanced Education to have OLA removed from the1-1h (full-time equivalent student) budget allocation method in favour of a block grant within acouple of years of his arrival. He had suggested that, given the collaborative nature of the OLAmandate, it was inappropriate for OLA to be competing against other institutions for the same141E's; indeed, if OLA were able to facilitate increases in system-wide enrollments at otherinstitutions through the collaborative use of open learning methods (perhaps at the expense ofits own enrollments), this could be interpreted as fulfillment of its mandate. The Ministryagreed and indicated that anecdotal evidence of the impact of open learning in the province ofBritish Columbia might prove even more useful than a statistical scrutiny of enrollments.Nonetheless, numbers of enrollments were (and are) still very much the "coin of the realm" atOLA and drive much of the budget preparation for program areas. Enrollment target varianceswere (and are) monitored on a monthly basis during budget variance review. Variance reviewsat the Agency tend to be used as a management monitoring instrument rather than a club-likeperformance indicator wielded over a manager's head (what Mintzberg would refer to as a"control system"). There was little, if any, retribution for failure to meet enrollment targets, forexample.147The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3With respect to the three major coordination mechanisms at OLA, some executive membersqualified their remarks by noting that the relatively small size of the organization(approximately 270 full-time staff and 180 part-time tutors in 1991 18) and the need to addressfrequent novel and unique situations also contributed as major factors in the coordination oforganizational activities. As one executive member put it, " ' I don't do windows' does notwash around here," referring to the fact that Agency employees were prone (and encouraged)to "roll up their sleeves" and undertake new or unusual tasks that did not necessarily fit withspecific details of their job description, because if they did not, there were not others (either innumber or expertise) within the Agency who could undertake the tasks. In other words, insuch instances, standardization of work processes and outputs through explicit job descriptionsplayed less of a role when embarking upon precedent-setting or unique tasks than didcoordination mechanisms such as mutual adjustment or prior skills and knowledge.Prior to the reorganization, most executive members also differentiated coordinatingmechanisms at the corporate level compared with the component level. It was generally agreedthat coordination tended to be better at the latter level than the former. There was an apparentlack of integrating capacity at the corporate level; indeed, one executive member evenquestioned the need for coordination across the Agency, suggesting that the diverse products,services and clientele served by components mitigated against such coordination. On the otherhand, and perhaps in response to the lack of overall corporate coordination, a number ofexecutive members pointed to the importance of an overarching, inspirational vision, adherenceto which could capture the imagination of all staff in the organization and significantly influencetheir behaviours and attitudes.148The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Finally, committees and matrix project team structures were identified to be a very importantsource of coordination, particularly those assigned to complete a particular task within aspecified period of time (as opposed to ongoing, routine meetings of management committeeswithin components, for example).Design parametersMintzberg (1989) identifies four major design parameters which can be manipulated within anorganization to determine division of labour and achievement of coordination: approaches todecision-making; design of individual positions; design of the organizational superstructure (orgrouping of individual positions into units); and design of lateral linkages among groups.This study now focusses on three particular aspects of the first design parameter which tends tobe unique among particular organizational configurations and will assist in the analysis of the1988-92 structure of OLA in Chapter 4. These three aspects are: centralization anddecentralization of decision-making power; and approaches to strategy-making.Centralization of power—Key part of the organizationWho then wielded the power at OLA? This was difficult question for executive members toanswer, on two grounds. First, there was an acknowledgement that power in an organizationcan be derived from several sources. For example, one executive member distinguishedbetween theoretic and practical power, the former tied to position, the latter tied to the personand his or her ability to create appropriate processes, reason logically and build trust in staff. Itwas the legal-rational sense of power of position as opposed to power vested in an individualthrough tradition or charisma that was the focus of this question. Secondly, the concept of149The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3power itself was somewhat foreign to the Agency context, which preferred to believe that itbehaved in a more collegial fashion, building on the efforts of teamplay and principles ofparticipative management rather than being channeled in one direction by the efforts of one or afew.Given these caveats, however, three general comments can be made about the nature of powerat OLA prior to reorganization. First of all, though Executive Council was seen as having finalrecourse, there was general acknowledgement that the power of Executive Council was eitherweak or not exercised well. Some blamed it on an unwillingness of its members to takedecisive stands and a preference to engage in lengthy philosophical, but ultimatelyinconclusive, discussion. Others saw it another way and felt the weakness due to the lack ofconcrete expectations of positions and performance measures—reinforcement of the belief that"what gets measured, gets done." This view emphasized that the work of the Agency shouldand could not be left to chance or the "spirit of cooperation." For these reasons, power wasseen to be vested more in the centre and bottom of the organizational structure, with the middleline and operating core, the latter being particularly powerful if capable of collective action. 19Secondly, technostructure regulatory mechanisms were also seen as having some power orinfluence at the Agency but usually in a negative sense, either through inaction (the inability ofthe organization to set in motion regulatory mechanisms which were attuned to userrequirements), or through the maintenance of policing or gatekeeping functions. An example ofthe former would be the Agency's Student Information Management System (SIMS), a highlysophisticated piece of software developed by OLI's information services under the Registrar'sdirection in the early 1980's to track student assignment grades and registration information.The design of the software was highly specific to a single model of distance education delivery(students who receive course packages in the mail and obtain assistance through telephone150The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3tutoring) and therefore inflexible in its application to other models of open learning (such asgroup instruction). Expensive to modify or replace, the Agency's intricate dependence upon itwas a factor which hindered rapid growth and exploration of new open learning models.Regulatory mechanisms could not keep up with the new directions that the Agency wasexploring. An example of the latter gatekeeping function would be controls exercised by theinformation services department regarding the use of computers by the Agency in its work. TheAgency's commitment to a Macintosh platform conflicted with some new entrepreneurialalliances arising from the Open College's workplace training initiative which relied heavilyupon an IBM platform. Though it was natural for information services to wish to ensurecompatibility of Macintosh equipment acquired by various components of the Agency, it wasreluctant or unsure of how to support an IBM "maverick equipment." 20Thirdly, the power base of the organization was not where it should be; executive membersindicated that they wanted power to be established on the basis of accountability for specificperformance targets, professionalism of staff (i.e., training and expertise of staff), andsubscription to a common set of norms or vision, the latter seen to be one of the most powerfultools. 21 "Empowerment," the flow of power to those in the organization closest to a situationwho can act upon it, was a goal that each executive member ascribed as essential for the neworganization. The consensus is not surprising as the reorganization was occurring at a timewhen executive members had been made particularly sensitive to total quality managementapproaches through an initiative by Scales and the paradigm of "learning organizations"developed by Senge (1990). 22 The management consultant advising on the reorganization alsostressed the importance of empowerment principles in an organization where staff were sohighly interdependent.151The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Decentralization of powerThe approach of the organization to decentralization of power follows from the previousdiscussion. Five trends emerged in the organization prior to restructuring. First, regulatorymechanisms were seen as too powerful and in many instances were perceived as the"administrative tail wagging the operational dog." Though attempts were made to be responsiveto user needs, administrative convenience of systems was perceived to outweigh attention touser needs, a problem prophesied by McAuley (1986) in his original recommendations for theorganization. Secondly, more power was ascribed to Executive Council than was actually thecase. Moreover, what little power there was in Executive Council became increasingly dilutedby a number of small operational decisions appearing on the agenda which were notappropriate to senior levels but had arrived there because the organization at large was unsurehow to resolve them. Rather than being delegated downward, the more frequent ExecutiveCouncil response was to either spend time determining the appropriateness of the agenda itemor entertain it in the spirit of helpfulness and problem-solving. Furthermore, Farrell foundhimself, by virtue of the organizational structure, in the unenviable position of playing"ringmaster in a three-ring circus" referring to the final arbitration role he was often forced toplay in order to resolve stalemates among his colleagues. With an inordinate number ofdecisions rising to the top and requiring final decision-making ultimately by the President,power elsewhere in the organization became somewhat tenuous. Thirdly, though theorganization espoused delegation of responsibility and authority to the lowest level, executivemembers admitted that the actual delegation that occurred varied from component tocomponent, dependent to a large extent on the management style of the component head.Power was generally more stable in the "inner ranks" of the operating core. Power that wasdelegated to special committees or task forces was typically limited to provision ofrecommendations to Executive Council and even here, in the interests of preserving152The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3participative management principles and obtaining input from all corners of the organization,consensus was difficult to achieve, forthcoming recommendations were not always fresh, andentrenched status quo positions of components were often reinforced. Of those committeerecommendations embraced by Executive Council, implementation was often inconsistent,ceding to the strength and individuality of the component. The difficulty in establishment of acommon project management system across the Agency is a case in point. Fourthly, uncleardecision-making responsibility exacerbated the problems of power at the Agency. Because staffwere unclear about their limits in making decisions, many got unnecessarily bumped up to theExecutive Council table and others which should have, did not. As a group, directors andsenior managers were unclear about the boundaries of their decision-making power; tentativeefforts to explore those boundaries were sometimes met with resistance from the ExecutiveCouncil and as such, the group rapidly degenerated to simple information exchange. (Unsureof its raison d'être, it was subsequently was disbanded on March 4, 1992, pending the resultsof the new reorganization.) Even those second-in-command found difficulty in sorting out theunique dual allegiances of their role: to the Agency as vice-presidents or to their components ascomponent heads. It was not always easy to distinguish a component issue over which thecomponent head had comparatively absolute responsibility from an Agency issue over which avice-president had collective responsibility with his or her colleagues to the president. Finally,the balkanization of the Agency into component parts, each with a positive motivation to serveits clientele with the best possible product or service, resisted synchronization of efforts acrossthe Agency. "Are we three or are we one?" was a not uncommon question prior to thereorganization. Staff allegiances vacillated between their component and the Agency, thoughthe majority of staff tended to identify themselves with the component first, and Agency,second. Despite efforts to the contrary, logo treatments on course packages and some affiliationproducts (such as tee-shirts and pens, for example) omitted reference to the Agency altogetherand referred solely to the component, either Open University, Open College, or Knowledge153The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Network, as if they were standalone entities. Turf issues existed even in areas where onewould expect a broader Agency perspective to prevail. Open College and Open University hadseparate academic committees which sometimes led to policy anomalies. 23Approach to strategy -makingWith respect to strategy-making, there was generally no difficulty among staff in accepting thebroad goal of lifelong learning. The details of how to get there, however, very much residedwith each component and in essence, despite the best attempts to merge individual efforts intoone plan for the Agency, the annual strategic plan and its day-to-day enactment were at best acollation of individual strategies. Farrell attributes this problem to historic reasons andHardwick's original vision of three separate components as opposed to one organization. Fromthat day forward, "kings of three mountains," to use Farrell's analogy, were created. Theircreation limited Farrell's ability to effect any sort of unified strategic change. Though he hadpermission from each "king" to enter the "mountain" domain, it was in more of a passive thanactive sense: he could tour the "mountain" but did not dare "cut down a tree or plant agarden."24 It was not that the "kings" eschewed the need for change; it was just that thenecessary changes always resided on the other "mountains." Executive members consistentlyreported that they preferred strategy-making consisting of a broadly understood goal withemergent details and input from the "grassroots" of the organization, particularly those in theoperating core. In the organization prior to restructuring, details regarding the attainment of thevision of lifelong learning were fragmented at best.154The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Other design parametersAs previously mentioned, Mintzberg (1989) identifies three other design parameters which canbe manipulated within an organization to determine division of labour and achievement ofcoordination: design of individual positions; design of the organizational superstructure (orgrouping of individual positions into units); and design of lateral linkages among groups. Thisstudy now briefly considers each in turn.Design of individual positionsWith respect to design of individual positions, there are three aspects: job specialization;behaviour formalization; and indoctrination and training (see Chapter 2).Positions at OLA involve a mix of specialization: at one end of the spectrum are horizontallyand vertically specialized positions, found, for example, among the warehouse staff or registryclerks; at the other end of the spectrum are horizontally specialized positions, found, forexample, among program coordinators and instructional designers of the Open University andOpen College and among broadcast technical experts of the Knowledge Network.Behaviour formalization at the Agency prior to reorganization was (and is) accomplishedthrough a variety of mechanisms such as software systems, policies and procedures (whichbring standardization to work processes) and job descriptions. Examples of software systemswould be the Student Information Management System (SIMS) and the Financial InformationManagement System (FIMS). SIMS has already been described; FIMS was introduced in1989, a vendor system which was adapted to OLA's internal environment and chosenparticularly for its flexibility in project-based budget monitoring and reporting. Associated with155The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3the software are a variety of policies and procedures such as the "project birth certificate" form(a device for requesting a new project budget to be set up on the system), expenditure transferforms and policies regarding overhead charges on externally-funded projects. Examples ofother policies and procedures which formalize the activities of staff would be: the projectmanagement model (formerly, "phased deliverables" development model) which outlines thephases of any project conducted within the Agency, but especially those pertaining todevelopment and delivery of instruction; policies emanating from the Human Resourcesdepartment; and the collective agreement.25 Aside from these notable exceptions, many policiesand procedures at OLA were not written down and not always widely disseminated prior toreorganization, perhaps reflecting the youth of the new organization; some policies andprocedures had been carried forward from OLI and KNOW, but as time progressed, werequestioned and eventually replaced. Unlike the relative informality of many of the Agency'sunwritten policies and procedures, job descriptions have been much more formally developedat OLA, classified on the basis of a job evaluation system, a modified Hays point system,which measures key duties of the job against criteria important to the Agency. The criteria inorder of importance are: creativity and innovation; decision-making; supervision given;communications and relationships; effort; working conditions; and job knowledge.Prior to reorganization, indoctrination at the Agency consisted of a short standard corporateorientation provided by Human Resources but otherwise was largely left to individualdepartments to administer. (Human Resources provided a checklist to aid department managersin the orientation of new employees.) Training at the Agency, with notable exceptions oftraining on Macintosh software provided in an open learning format and sponsorship ofindividual staff members to conferences and special training events, had been relatively156The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3uneven, although commitments were made at the beginning of 1992 to concentrate more uponin-house training, particularly with respect to total quality management approaches andtechnological training.Design of superstructureThe design of the superstructure is one of the more powerful design parameters to whichMintzberg (1983, 1989) refers. There are basically two types of groupings: functional andmarket. At the macro level, it would be fair to say that the organization prior to restructuringwas designed on the basis of market groupings: the Open University component served auniversity clientele; the Open College component at first served a clientele pursuing entry-levelcareer, technical and vocational programs and adult basic education but later sharpened itsfocus to workforce training; the Knowledge Network component had a dual focus (which wasoften a source of confusion both internally and externally) on general education, schools andchildren's programming (a market) and operation of an educational system telecommunicationservice, primarily television broadcast and a teleconferencing bridge (a function serving allcomponents and the educational system). Naturally, the administrative component (budgetoffice, finance and accounting, human resources, and information systems) would beconsidered to be a functional grouping, serving the other components. Within programmingcomponents, the nature of the groupings was not always market-focussed, which served toreinforce the distinctive nature of each component. For example, the Open Universityorganized itself along programmatic or market-based lines (administrative studies, socialsciences, sciences and humanities programs). The Open College, on the other hand, chose toorganize itself using a mixed market and functionally-based set of groupings: a programdelivery or market-based unit (adult basic education, business and tourism, health and humanservices, and trades and technical programs) and a functionally-based program and course157The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3development unit serving the program delivery area needs as well as providing services toexternal parties on a contractual basis. The programming side of the Knowledge Networkchose market-based theme areas to meet the needs of its general education clientele (arts andscience, health, economic development, environmental issues, career and personaldevelopment, social and political issues, complementary programming for school curricula andchildren's programs).Design of lateral linkagesWith regard to the last design parameter, design of lateral linkages, there are two aspects:planning and control systems (the former usually pertaining to improvements in the workprocesses and activities of functional groupings; the latter, to monitoring and measurement ofoutputs of market groupings) and liaison devices. The primary control systems at the Agency(discussed earlier under coordinating mechanisms) would be semi-annual viewer "audiencereach" reports and monthly budget and enrollment variance reports which reviewed desiredresults after the fact (for example, the variance report for the month of September would betypically due at the end of October). Liaison devices at the Agency were numerous. Matrixmanagement structures existed for development of projects drawing upon resources fromvarious parts of the organization, coordinated under one project manager, usually a coordinatoror manager from a program area. In addition, task forces, standing committees and individualpositions were created to assist in coordination through mutual adjustment. One example wouldbe the Technological Applications Group (TAG) which had membership from many parts ofthe organization and was set up to coordinate technologies in current and future use at theAgency. Another example would the Open College's Project Finance and Scheduling Assistantposition, established to assist project managers of the Open College in the set-up andmonitoring of project budgets and schedules; in effect, the position straddled the boundary158The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3between the Open College and the finance department, interpreting the needs of the college tothe financial and budgeting staff of the Agency and conversely, interpreting the needs of thefinance and budget offices to Open College staff. Similarly, the information systemsdepartment of the administrative component established a Client Service Manager role within anumber of its positions to liaise between component needs and regulatory needs of thedepartment.ConclusionThe second part of Chapter 3 has described the structure of OLA prior to reorganization basedupon Mintzberg's (1989) definition: its parts; its coordinating mechanisms; and major designparameters. The third and final part of this chapter examines the forces which precipitated theneed to review OLA's organizational structure.Forces for ChangeIntroductionMcAuley (1986), in his recommendations for the original OLA organizational structure,predicted that:Functions and activities now being carried out may disappear, or their scopechanged dramatically. New activities may be introduced. The relationshipsbetween and among the Agency and the groups with which it deals can also beexpected to change.Because of this, it is important that the initial organizational structure adopted bythe board be considered transitional, and that mechanisms be established forcarefully planned integration, development and future change. (pp. 4-5)159The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3After four years of operation, Farrell (and other executive members) felt that it was useful toreview the organizational structure of OLA. Not all executive members were convinced thatradical structural changes were necessarily required but perhaps a revitalization or renewal wasin order that would positively influence the behaviour and attitudes of staff.Nevertheless, several critical forces precipitated the need to, at the very least, reexamine thestructure of the Agency. The forces can be grouped into six major categories. First, there was agrowing sense of fragmentation within the Agency and unhealthy competitiveness amongprogramming components; a greater sense of shared, corporate identity was urgently needed ifthe Agency was to remain intact as a single entity. Secondly, and related to the fffst, there wasno cohesive public view of the Agency—it meant many things to many different people.Viewers interpreted the Agency as a public education television service; university and collegeenrollees, spread throughout the province, considered it an alternative to the campus; clientssaw the Agency as vendors of educational training materials and services. While differentmarkets were not necessarily problematic in themselves, what was harmful to the Agency wasthe lack of a significant collective public community that could wield political clout. Thirdly,the ambiguity of the role that Knowledge Network played within the organization was causingconfusion and tension, both internally and externally. Fourthly, there was an acknowledgementof a need for the organization to make more effective and coherent use of technology than it hadbeen as a strategy for reaching the goals of its mandate. There was a sense that the structurewas obstructing this ability rather than enabling it. Fifthly, there was an improvedunderstanding of the marketability of OLA's products and services and of the need for theorganization to more effectively compete in its diverse markets. The structure would need somerejigging to reflect this emphasis. Finally, there were external controls on the Agency, such asthe Ministry of Advanced Education, Technology and Training, the post-secondary system and160The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3federal employment programs, some stronger than others, which exerted forces upon OLA thatcould not be ignored. The third and final part of this chapter section explores each set of forcesin more detail.Unity WithinNeed for a greater sense of shared identity and for less competition and fragmentation amongcomponents was a major theme of the drive for change at OLA. In his February 13, 1992,briefing to the board, Farrell expressed the internal unity issue as several needs to be metthrough a process of organizational review: clarification of ambiguity of roles; strengthenedcorporate leadership; greater empowerment of employees; more effective internal...communication; and more effective feedback mechanisms. 26The ambiguity of roles at OLA manifested itself in several ways among senior management ofthe organization. According to Farrell, the way in which the concept of the componentstructures was originally implemented was "a major contributing factor to the lack of unitywithin the Agency." 27 In particular, the dual titles of three executive members, head of acomponent and vice-president of the Agency, was a major concern of Farrell's, causing"confusion and tension" in the organization. 28 The dual mandates of these individuals had aschizophrenic character and caused "role conflict between two sets of responsibilities that[were] quite different"29 : defence on one's own autonomous component territory (the "king ofthe mountain" phenomenon to which Farrell referred 30), on the one hand; participation in thecollective goals of the Agency, on the other. This schizophrenia permeated the organization andresulted in much balkanization of the Agency and competition among components; indeed, staffin programming areas showed greater allegiance to their component than to the Agency. Agood example of this was the reaction of staff to an article in the Vancouver Sun newspaper31161The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3profiling the Knowledge Network component of the Agency with little reference to other partsof the organization. The article appeared in rather timely fashion on February 15, 1992, duringthe final throes of decision-making concerning the new organization. The staff of the OpenUniversity and Open College components were somewhat indignant at being "snubbed" andnot enjoying significant mention in the article; several staff members read this as a ploy forKnowledge Network to break away from the Agency and become a separate organization.(These fears had been further fuelled by comments from the newly appointed Minister ofCulture in the Globe and Mail newspaper, suggesting that she should become responsible forthe Knowledge Network.32) Farrell saw this staff reaction as further indication of the lack ofshared ownership in the organization and was disheartened that, rather than celebration andappreciation of this profile of colleagues in the organization, a spirit of one-upmanship and apervasive view of Knowledge Network as competitor prevailed. 33 In turn, the competitivenessimplied lost opportunities for linkages among program areas. Farrell characterized the delicatebalance as "fostering a sense of unity while operationally recognizing diversity among theconstituencies we serve." 34. This could be difficult; as Kashner (1990) has noted, "variousspheres of ownership may operate as potent points of resistance to change especially ifprojected innovations appear to threaten the proprietors" (p. 21).A further manifestation of the ambiguity of role was in the unclear terms of reference for themiddle line directors' group, who met on a regular basis, presumably to share information andmake decisions on items of importance to one another. Membership not only included directorsof operational units, but any person who reported directly to a vice-president; consequently,managers from the technostructure such as the budget office and Knowledge Network'sscheduling and acquisition department and from support areas such as access services and thelibrary were gradually added to the group, eventually overwhelming directors of operationalunits and creating unwieldy numbers for any meaningful discussion. Frustrations with lack of162The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3any real decision-making power as a group, coupled with agendas and a membership that werebecoming increasingly diluted, caused the group to disband on March 4, 1992, until it wasseen what the Agency reorganization would bring.Farrell also stated in his remarks to the December 11, 1991, board meeting:I am concerned that we have not done a very good job of clarifying expectations,regarding decision-making authority, information flow, consultation andinvolvement in decisions, etc. between me and the vice presidents; between andamong members of Executive Council; and, between members of ExecutiveCouncil and those who report to them. 35One major consequence of this ambiguity was the arrival of numerous problems and requestsfor operational decisions at the Executive Council table, because staff members were unsurewho in the organization should be dealing with them. Indeed much time was consumed atExecutive Council meetings deciding if it was an appropriate item with which to be dealing, letalone making a decision on it. Another consequence was overlap and duplication of effort.Staff working on the same project (or similar projects mounted in different components)encountered problems of turf and had conflicting interpretations of their responsibility inachieving the desired end. A fmal symptom of ambiguity of role was the frequent complaintfrom staff that the Agency was involved in too many activities and going off in too manydifferent directions at once. Internally, this was referred to pejoratively as the "mile-wide, inch-deep syndrome." 36Hand-in-hand with battling the fragmentation experienced by the organization during its firstfour years of existence was the need to strengthen the corporate leadership of the organization.Executive Council was not working well. Though it was (in the president's opinion) composedof a talented group of individuals, many meetings were characterized by disharmony,163The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3dysfunction and dissatisfaction.37 There were several pertinent factors. One had to do with thepowerful personalities of the players themselves. As one executive member put it, "continuityof staff [from OLA's predecessor organizations] is both an asset and a liability." It wasperceived as an asset in terms of continuity from previous organizations (only Bates and Paceywere relative newcomers); it was perceived as a liability in that personal interactions and habitsof communication could become somewhat entrenched. Coupled with ownership issuesregarding components and some unease over, or differing interpretations of, the commonvision of the organization and how to get there, Executive Council meetings were not alwaysperceived as the most productive forums. A second factor rested in the ambiguity of the ChiefExecutive Officer's role on Executive Council. Farrell indicated that he often found himself as"ringmaster of the circus,"38 and making decisions and adjudicating problems that couldprobably be handled in more appropriate ways. Farrell saw the current organization's structureas a critical factor giving rise to this phenomenon. Given the autonomous nature of thecomponents, Executive Council meetings and particularly his chairmanship position onExecutive Council were the only real locus for issues of Agency-wide concern; consequently,the weight of the organization appeared to pivot on the Chief Executive Officer's shoulders.Farrell's evident concern for preservation of the Agency, in light of the apparent fragmentationand competitiveness in the organization, and his natural willingness to assist in problem-solving on issues, made it difficult for him to stay uninvolved in these matters or to delegatethem downward and thus provide time for himself to concentrate on the broader, long-termmatters."Empowerment" of employees, or delegation of decision-making authority and responsibilityto the most appropriate level in the organization, was another need. Farrell recognized that theAgency would be164The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter able to serve its various constituencies in a flexible and responsive mannerby ensuring that those parts of the Agency charged with the responsibility alsohave the appropriate authority. These groups need to be empowered to achievethese outcomes to the maximum extent possible—not encumbered withunnecessary policies and procedures. In doing so, responsibility must be clearlydescribed in terms of purpose and this must be coupled with a clear definition ofhow success will be measured in order for there to be clear expectations onaccountability.39He further recognized that staff of the Agency were people "with particular skills and highlevels of motivation" who had "a high need for feeling a sense of achievement, recognition andfor feedback."40 In particular, Farrell, and other executive members, noted that some supportservices were still constraining the programming units in the way that they wanted to operate toserve their clients effectively; this, despite significant attempts on the part of support services tobecome more enabling and less regulatory. 41With respect to effectiveness of internal communication, Farrell saw two aspects that neededimprovement in the organization. First, there was a need for more "open, honest and direct"communication.42 Secondly, in decision-making, greater clarification was required in terms ofstaff members who need to be consulted, involved or informed of any decision taken. Inparticular, better linkages among operating groups as well as between operating groups and thesenior leadership of the organization were seen as critical.With respect to more effective feedback mechanisms, in order to maximize service toconstituencies, Farrell emphasized that continuous feedback from stakeholders would beessential in order to establish effective relationships. He saw these feedback mechanismsapplying both internally and externally: support services within the organization would need tosolicit feedback from their internal "clients," particularly tutors; similarly, feedback fromexternal clients was also important, particularly learners (or their sponsors) and viewers.165The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Unity WithoutIf fragmentation of the organization from within was a concern, of equal concern was the lackof a cohesive image in the public eye. The board had stated its expectation of OLA to be run asa single organization and had complained on several occasions of its low public profile. 43Though admittedly there were some difficulties in "selling" the concept of open learning as aservice or product that could be readily understood by the public44 (indeed, one executivemember seriously questioned the achievability of the Agency's wide mandate with contrastingemphases on product and service, program delivery and collaboration), there were politicalreasons why Farrell desired a common front as opposed to a conglomerate of distinctprogramming entities. One reason was by virtue of strength in numbers: he felt that theorganization (especially one as small as that of the Agency) would stand a better chance ofobtaining funding by presenting a consistently united front rather than programmingcomponents tripping over one another in contacts with stakeholders and funding sources.Another reason, one executive member speculated, was that it would be more difficult for aprovincial ministry to "steal away" the high profile Knowledge Network from a singleintegrated organization. A singular organization would also provide a rallying point for keystakeholders, tutors, learners and viewers of OLA.The Ambiguous Role of Knowledge NetworkA major force for change at OLA was the ambiguous nature of the Knowledge Network.Farrell was long of the opinion that during the formation of OLA in the mid-1980's, KNOWhad simply been "bolted onto" OLI and that the superstructure of management and supportsystems that had been created and "tinkered with" over time dealt only with symptoms and did166The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3little to overcome the original problem.45 Pacey concurred and used the analogy of KNOWbeing "handcuffed" to OLI with the regulatory functions of the Agency providing "the chain inthe middle."46 From the beginning, Farrell had opposed the "anomaly" of the KnowledgeNetwork. In his February 13, 1992, briefing to the board, he noted that the KnowledgeNetwork component not only had responsibility for operating a television service anddeveloping other electronic delivery networks on behalf of OLA as a whole but also hadprogramming responsibility for general interest programs for adults and children anddevelopment of school-based programs, a function parallel to that of the Open University andOpen College components of the Agency. 47 At the time of formation of OLA, Farrell hadpushed hard for the creation of a fourth programming component called "continuing education"(or "general education") to avoid the dual service and programming role of the KnowledgeNetwork. The board at the time passed the minutes but Hardwick had intervened and wouldnot implement the idea, concerned about preserving the identity of the Knowledge Network. Inparticular, Hardwick was concerned that if Farrell's idea was pursued, the local union of OLIwould more easily incorporate the Knowledge Network staff.48 The distinctive culture of theKnowledge Network had been aided and abetted by other factors as well: separate officelocations; historic antipathy between the two predecessor organizations of OLA and differingperspectives in provision of their services; different working conditions; and the tremendouspublic profile enjoyed by the television service.First of all, Knowledge Network differences were accentuated by the fact of separate physicallocations from the former OLI staff in Richmond. Knowledge Network maintained broadcastfacilities from cramped quarters at the University of British Columbia campus and managementoffices at a downtown Vancouver location, shared with the president's office, public affairsand the institutional research and international education office. A lack of space and air traffic167The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3interference with broadcast signals precluded the integration of Knowledge Network staff at theRichmond site. Except for senior managers of the organization, few staff of the former OLIhad opportunities to mingle with staff of the former KNOW on other than social occasions orspecial committee work.Secondly, OLI and KNOW were both about eight to ten years of age at the time of OLA'sformation and, by this time had achieved set ways of operating. There was the aforementionedhistoric antipathy between KNOW and OLI, fuelled by Hardwick and McGeer's vision of openlearning by television and each institution's own perception of its role in the provision of openlearning in B.C. Senior managers of the Knowledge Network component were quite candid inmaking a distinction between the viewers they were serving and the learners served by othersin the Agency and were adamant that the needs of viewers had to be met by entirely differentmeans. Even though the Knowledge Network had a general education programming mandatein addition to broadcast and telecommunication service operation, attempts to extend generaleducation programming significantly beyond television were slow to be pursued; KnowledgeNetwork staff appeared to identify themselves more closely with running a television servicethan being part of an educational enterprise. It is further revealing to consider the externalstakeholders of the Knowledge Network component. While government directions for theOpen University and Open College was largely received from the Ministry of AdvancedEducation, Training and Technology, Knowledge Network's stakeholders extended to theMinistry of Education (to provide complementary programming for school curricula andcontinue taking steps toward the formulation of a fourth component, the Open School),everchanging ministries responsible for provincial communications, the Ministry of Culture aswell as federal bodies such as the Canadian Television-Radio Commission and Department ofCommunication.168The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3Thirdly, working conditions were comparatively different. OLI staff had been organized undera British Columbia Government Employees' Union (BCGEU) collective agreement which wassimilar in content to other college agreements such as those of the British Columbia Institute ofTechnology, Kwantlen College and Douglas College. Unionized staff worked 35-hour weeks.KNOW staff, on the other hand, had not been organized into any union, having opted for a"fair comparison" method for establishment of salaries, and using other broadcastingorganizations as their point of reference. Knowledge Network staff worked 40-hour weeks andalso had a different salary, vacation and benefit structure from OLI staff. Salary levels forKnowledge Network staff in higher grades exceeded those of unionized staff while theconverse was true for lower grades; in general, vacation and benefits for Knowledge Networkstaff exceeded those of unionized staff."Finally, Knowledge Network had an extremely attractive profile with the general viewingpublic and, in fact, market surveys of the early 1990's 50 indicated that it was better recognizedby the average British Columbian than OLA. 51 Indeed, British Columbians familiar with theNetwork were often unaware of the Agency's existence or mistaken about the relationship ofthe Network to the Agency, believing either the latter to be part of the former or indeed,completely separate.Need for Improved Use of TechnologyAnother significant force for change was the need for the organization to better position itselfwith respect to use of technology. Farrell was concerned that a powerful corporate asset,namely the Knowledge Network educational broadcast channel, was being underutilized bothby the Agency itself and by the educational system at large. The spectre of dozens of televisionchannels offering quality fare as a result of changes in federal communications policy was seen169The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3as a definite threat. Farrell was also frustrated by the apparent inertia in the Agency to embracenew instructional technologies for the delivery of programs. There were modest initiatives touse technologies such as computer conferencing and several promising pilot projects, but fewtook root in any major way among the programming areas. Knowledge Network generalinterest programs still relied primarily on broadcast television as the main vehicle of programdelivery, as they always had; the Open University and Open College components still reliedprimarily on printed course materials as the main vehicle of program delivery, as they alwayshad. Mastery of, and effectiveness in use of, technologies would be a critical competitiveelement.Emphasis on Marketability of Products and ServicesSteeples (1988) remarks that:Strategic planning expresses the arrival of the age of marketing in academia. Thequest for institutional uniqueness, for differentiation, for comparative advantage,for a "niche", is essentially the search for an advantageous market position.Strategic planning is fundamentally a means of applying marketing concepts tohigher education. (pp. 102-103)Wriston (1990) suggests that in order to prepare learners for the information society, freechoice must reign in education and a marketplace in education must be created (p. 83).As a strategy, improvement in marketing (in its broadest sense) and acknowledgement of thediversity of OLA's markets stemming from a social necessity for lifelong learning was anotherpotent force for change. The growing realization of the organization's assets in open learningproducts and services and its expanding role in international education were both catalysts. Inthe first four years of operation, OLA's "clients" had broadened immeasurably. Learnersspanned the spectrum from television viewers, children and self-directed adult learners tolearners in the workplace and learning centre classroom environments (through "enhanced170The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3delivery" initiatives of programming components). Area of study included: basic skill leveltraining; English as a second language; para-professional studies in business, tourism, trades,technology, health and human services; independent and cooperative undergraduate programs;continuing professional education; K-12 curriculum; and developmental programs forchildren.52 International links had long been established with Southeast Asia and Hong Kongand were expanding via marketing efforts, collaborative agreements and relationships withagencies such as the Commonwealth of Learning and brokers of training courseware to NewZealand, Australia, South America, Africa, the Middle East and even former Soviet blocnations. Increased competition for these learner markets and the need to diversify revenuesources could not remain sideline interests of the organization. No longer was "learnedhelplessness" acceptable, to complain that the government did not supply enough money to theAgency to do what it wanted; rather, the Agency now had to help itself by locating othersources of funding and engaging in marketing and business development in a very real way.As Cross (1989) notes in a series of five propositions concerning current trends in highereducation in the U.S.: institutions of higher education no longer enjoy a monopoly on theprovision of educational services; roles of educational providers, once reasonably distinct, areblurring; student and faculty are increasingly become part-time; learning has become a lifelongnecessity for everyone, from birth to death; and a change in educational methods is necessitatedto equip learners for lifelong learning. She states that "higher education today provides a littleover one-third of organized learning opportunities for adults: the remaining two-thirds isprovided by a vast array of schools and non-collegiate providers, many of whom offereverything colleges do and more" (pp. 6-13). Clearly, the methods of open learning would bewell-positioned to take advantage of the market trends Cross describes and compete effectively,if the right kind of organization were behind it. What kind of organization would OLA have tobe? To achieve the competitive edge, Farrell indicated the need for OLA to become a "quality"171The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3organization. 53 Increased emphasis on training in management and technology were to besignificant elements in the Agency's quest for quality.External FactorsFinally, a number of environmental factors may have also precipitated the need for change atOLA. All executive members were agreed that the Agency found itself in a complex and diverseenvironment; all except one agreed that the environment was dynamic, constantly changing andforcing the organization to adapt to change; on whether the environment was truly hostile orplacid, however, executive members were divided. Several external controls were seen to be atplay, some to a greater extent than others. For example, the board, having members with theirown political agendas, was seen to be a somewhat strong influence in setting direction andchange for the Agency. There were varied opinions on the influence of other institutions in thepost-secondary system: some viewed their influence as strong, particularly in the Agency'suniversity programs where few steps could be taken without the consent of the otheruniversities; on the other hand, some viewed their influence as weaker, especially in the collegesector; still others suggested that the post-secondary system had a rather ambivalent attitudetoward OLA, bordering on a love-hate relationship. All would agree, however, that the systemexerted a normative force upon the Agency and that it would be difficult to depart radicallyfrom norms of the system, even though the agenda of the post-secondary system and theAgency might not always be completely synchronous. For example, Farrell likened theAgency's tentativeness about participating in bodies such as the Advanced Education Councilof British Columbia, AECBC, to that of Norway's reluctance to join the European EconomicCommunity: there was little in common with the collective body other than a wish tosimultaneously collaborate and compete with it to achieve individual ends s4 Though theMinistry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology was a significant source of funding172The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3for the Agency (about two-thirds of its 1992-93 budget), it was seen to be a relatively weakenvironmental force, indirect and reactive. As will be seen in Chapter 5, the extent of its powerwas perhaps underestimated.Other environmental factors identified by executive members were: the federal and provincialgovernment employment programs and recent policy changes (an increasingly important sourceof diversified funding in view of the Agency's stated strategic focus on workforce training);viewers of the Knowledge Network television channel; business and industry as potentialstrategic partners or clients of the Agency; the Ministry of Education; and the unions (both theBCGEU, British Columbia Government Employees' Union, and the newly formed OLATA,Open Learning Agency Tutor Association). Students of the Agency were, curiously enough,seen as a relatively insignificant and unfocussed environmental force though there was a desireto see this group of stakeholders exerting a much stronger force. In sum, environmentalsources of change for OLA corroborate Dennison and Levin's (1989) identification of primarysources of change and recent major influences upon Canadian community colleges, with thepossible exception of the relative strength of the Agency's board which appears to counter thetrend toward diminished authority of boards across Canada (pp. 165-174).In summary, the external forces upon the Agency were, in a sense, diverse and divided,permitting the Agency to "play one against the other" as much as it was buffeted by them.173The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3ConclusionFragmentation within the organization; a lack of a coherent public image; the ambiguous role ofKnowledge Network; a need for more effective use of technology; a need for strengthenedbusiness development capability; and external factors^all were forces which precipitated theneed to review OLA's organizational structure and, eventually, the need to reorganize.Conclusion for Chapter 3Chapter 3 has presented the historical origins of OLA and the roots of some of itsorganizational issues, a description of its structure as it existed during the first four years of itsoperation, and a summary of forces precipitating the need for review of the organization and itseventual restructuring. The next chapter analyzes which of Mintzberg's (1989) sevenconfigurations most closely resembles OLA's structure prior to reorganization and makes aprediction on the basis of Mintzberg's contingency and life cycle hypotheses of the likelyconfiguration into which it would transform.FootnotesFor a more detailed account of OLI's history in particular, the reader is referred toMoran (1991).2 OLI Annual Report, 1978-79.3 Of the original directors two were to remain and become executive members of OLA: SidSegal and Ian Mugridge. A third staff member of OLI to become prominent on OLA'sexecutive was Dick Scales who joined OLI in 1979 and became a director of the Institutein 1982. Segal had previously been Assistant to the Vice-President, Administration atSimon Fraser University and was seconded by Ellis in 1978 to be OLI's Director ofAdministrative Services and Bursar. Mugridge, a graduate of Oxford and the Universityof California, had worked in Simon Fraser University's history department since 1967,serving as Department Chair and as Assistant Vice-President, Academic. He was firstappointed to OLI as Director of University Programs and later became Dean of AcademicAffairs. Scales came to OLI as a Senior Advisor in 1979 to set up advisory mechanismsand develop and accompanying student recruitment system. Prior to his appointment, hehad been Dean of Student Services and Registrar at College of New Caledonia in Prince174The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3George since 1970. Scales became OLI's Director of Career, Technical and VocationalPrograms in 1982.4 Farrell managed to pry some money from the government in 1986. In 1988, theKnowledge Network Development Fund was established.5 The position for Executive Director of the Development Directorate was not filled at thistime and some of its functions were split and reassigned to other positions. Paceyoriginally applied for the Executive Director position but was offered and acceptedinstead the General Manager position for Knowledge Network; the resource development(fund raising) function of the Executive Director position was assigned to her.6 The information which follows in the second and third parts of Chapter 3's case study hasbeen primarily derived from individual interviews with the six executive members ofthe strategic apex, prior to reorganization of the Agency. The information has beencorroborated ("triangulated") by the interviews of other executive members, archivalmaterials such as meeting minutes and internal memoranda, and personal observation.The case study has also been validated by the executive members.7 Of the six executive members, Bates and Pacey were the relative newcomers. Prior tojoining OLA in 1990, Bates had been Professor of Educational Media Research at theInstitute of Educational Technology of the British Open University, though he hadconsulted for OLI on several occasions in the early 1980's. Prior to becoming a vicepresident of OLA and General Manager of KNOW in 1986, Pacey had been with theUniversity of Victoria where she had specific responsibility for the development anddelivery of Public Administration and Business and Management Programs usingtelevision, teleconferencing and computer-based delivery systems. Like Farrell, shejoined the organization with the understanding that OLI and KNOW would eventuallyamalgamate.8 Memo from Bates to author, October 9, 1992.9 Source: Agency publication. (1991). Quickfacts: Decade at a glance.The B.C. Credit Bank was (and is) a service making it possible "to consolidate creditsfrom accredited educational institutions, and to gain credit for 'non-formal learning'such as industry-based training or on-the-job experience" and providing "a uniquedocument evaluation service for people needing to equate foreign training and workcredential to equivalent Canadian standards." Excerpts extracted from Quickfacts: Decadeat a glance.11 The Agency's access services provided (and provides) information and assistance toprospective Agency students.12 The Discovery Training Network was an on-line educational database carryinginformation on "over 200,000 educational and training opportunities from both privateand public organizations." Excerpts extracted from Quickfacts: Decade at a glance.13 Source: Agency publication. (1991 ?). Quickfacts: Decade at a glance.14 ibid .15 ibid.16 ibid .17 Weekly audience reach is the number of people who tune into a given television channelon a weekly basis. The measure counts unduplicated viewership; that is, one persontuning in five times during one week counts as one, not five. The measure is derived fromstatistics provided by the Bureau of Broadcast Membership and Nielsen Media Research.Tabulated weekly, the measure is provided to the Agency on a semi-annual basis.1 0175The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 318 Source: Human Resources Department, OLA19 The last comment may have reflected a sensitivity regarding the formation of the OpenLearning Agency Tutor Association (OLATA) which won the right to certify in late 1991.One of the reasons cited for formation of the union was the need to have greater tutorinput into the day-to-day operation of the Agency. Ties between the then-president ofOLATA and the Minister of Advanced Education no doubt !ended to this perception ofpower.20 On developing a corporate networking framework at the OLA. A report by Dennis Kong,Manager, Office Technology and Communications, OLA Information Systems. May 15,1991. p. 4.21 Interviews with executive members, February, 1991.22 According to Senge (1990), learning organizations are those where people continuallyexpand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansivepatterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspirations are set free, and wherepeople are continually learning how to learn together. To reach such a state requires thepractice of five disciplines: systems thinking (the capacity for seeing patterns ofinterdependency); personal mastery (the capacity for clarification of values); mentalmodels (the capacity to recognize how ingrained assumptions affect our actions); sharedvision (the capacity to build a sense of commitment); and team learning (capacity forcollective, synergistic dialogue).23 In one instance, it became possible for an Agency student to receive credit for an OpenCollege diploma program yet be denied "block transfer" credit toward an Open Universitydegree because of different pass mark standards within the two components.24 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.25 OLA had (and has) one local of the British Columbia Government Employees' Union(BCGEU) primarily covering all non-management, non-confidential positions from theold OLI ranging from secretarial and warehouse staff to program coordinators anddesigners. A second union was formed in late 1991, the Open Learning Agency Tutors'Association (OLATA), with connections to the College and Institute Educators' Association(C I EA).26 Briefing paper re: OLA organizational review. Attachment to memo from Farrell toMembers, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members, Directors' Group,February 7, 1992.27 Paper entitled "Concerns identified by GMF (Farrell) at the 11 December meeting" [ofthe board], December 11, 1991.28 ibid .29 Briefing paper re: OLA organizational review. Attachment to memo from Farrell toMembers, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members, Directors' Group,February 7, 1992.30 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.31 Newspaper article, The little station that did, Vancouver Sun, February 15, 1992, p.D4.3 2 Newspaper article, Activist combats 'sense of desperation', Globe and Mail, January 25,1992. In the article, Darlene Marzari, named B.C.'s Minister of Culture after theelection of the NDP party in October, 1991, pointed out that "cultural agencies werescattered through a variety of ministries, from post-secondary education (home to theprovince's public broadcaster, The Knowledge Network) to tourism." The article also176The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 3indicated that "she hopes to spinoff culture, broadcasting and communications into aseparate ministry."33 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.34 Attachment 1, Organizational review of the Open Learning Agency. Attachment to memofrom Farrell to Members, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members,Directors' Group, February 7, 1992.35 Paper entitled "Concerns identified by GMF (Farrell) at the 11 December meeting" [ofthe board], December 11, 1991.36 Memo from Segal to OLA staff, Sept. 15, 1992.37 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.38 ibid.39 Attachment 1, Organizational review of the Open Learning Agency. Attachment to memofrom Farrell to Members, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members,Directors' Group, February 7, 1992.40 ibid .41 ibid .42 ibid .43 Briefing paper re: OLA organizational review. Attachment to memo from Farrell toMembers, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members, Directors' Group,February 7, 1992.44 Paul (1990) points out that the vagueness of concepts like "open learning" and "distanceeducation" pose significant marketing challenges. He also notes difficulties in explainingan open learning institution to someone without previous exposure to it (p. 184).45 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.46 Pacey, interview, February 11, 1992.47 Briefing paper re: OLA organizational review. Attachment to memo from Farrell toMembers, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members, Directors' Group,February 7, 1992.48 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.49 These differences were to become a critical issue at the bargaining table duringnegotiations of the 1992-93 BCGEU contract in June and July, 1992.50 Marktrend Marketing Research Inc. (April, May, 1990) Top-Line Summary user. non-user focus groups. pp. 7, 10.51 A February 4, 1991, letter from Dr. John Dennison, Faculty of Higher Education, UBCto Glen Farrell advised that greater emphasis must be given to OLA's public profile if itwere to play a powerful coordination role in post-secondary education. B.C. Researchstatistics at the time indicated that only a very small percentage of high school graduateswere even aware of the Agency and open learning options for their continued education.52 Memo from Farrell to Members, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members,Directors' Group, February 3, 1992.53 Attachment 1, Organizational review of the Open Learnina Agency. Attachment to memofrom Farrell to Members, Organization Review Steering Committee and Members,Directors' Group, February 7, 1992.54 Farrell, interview, February 19, 1992.177Chapter 4: Analysis of 1988-92 OLAStructure & Predictions for Reorganization178The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4Introduction to Chapter 4This study now turns to an analysis of OLA's organizational structure between 1988 and 1992and identifies one of Mintzberg's (1989) configurations which most closely resembles it. Aprediction is also made, on the basis of Mintzberg's contingency and life cycle hypotheses forits reorganized configuration. The first half of the chapter is devoted to the analysis and thelatter half, to the prediction.Analysis of OLA's 1988-92 StructureIntroductionMintzberg (1989) proposes that organizations typically cluster into six or possibly seven"configurations": entrepreneurial; machine; diversified; professional; innovative; missionary;and possibly, political (the latter configuration being quite unstable). To determine which of theconfigurations best matches OLA's structure prior to reorganization, six organizational designconsiderations will be taken into account: (1) who performs the basic work of the organization;(2) what is the key coordinating mechanism used; (3) what is the key part of the organization;(4) how is decision-making power decentralized in the organization; (5) what is theorganization's approach to strategy-making; (6) what is the context or environment of theorganization. Other design parameters such as design of individual positions, superstructuregrouping of positions and lateral linkages will also be briefly considered.Before analyzing the structure of OLA, a caveat must be made. If, in the course of thisanalysis, a configuration emerges which fits well with the case study description of OLA priorto reorganization, it does not necessarily follow that a causal relationship exists between thevariables proposed by Mintzberg and the organization being studied; other independent179The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4variables might also be at work, particularly if one believes that no two organizations, nor theenvironments in which they find themselves, can be the same. De Vries (1990) replies to thisconcern by noting that "Mintzberg's models are based on an extensive survey of empiricalresearch, which fact increases the likelihood that they are reasonable descriptions oforganizational design parameters in their representation of real-life organizations; in his contextcausality need not be proved in order to obtain valuable insights from relationships observed"(p. 108). He further remarks that "inductive analyses and intuitive insights are among thegenerally accepted characteristics of qualitative research" (p. 108). Application of Mintzberg'sconfigurations can provide a richer, "thicker" understanding of the phenomenon oforganizations than the study of simple cause-effect relationships which have been maligned bysome (as discussed in Chapter 2) for the narrowness and imprecision of variables chosen, andconsequently of organizational insights gained.The Basic Work of the OrganizationAs seen in Chapter 3, the operating core consisted (and still consists) of instructional andtelecommunication professionals. These employees have learned their "craft" outside theorganization (for example, at other educational institutions or broadcast facilities) but, becauseof OLA's unique methodologies, have adapted their knowledge and skills to the needs of openlearning. To perform their tasks, a high level of interaction is required, typically in specialcommittees or projects. Though the outputs that they produce (primarily instructional coursematerials and television programs) share common characteristics in general (reflective of goodquality instructional design and broadcast standards), in some senses, each output iscustomized or tailored to the particular learner or viewer group being served; that is, an OpenUniversity course would be different in content and methodologies from an Open Collegecourse and a children's program on the Knowledge Network would be different from one of its180The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4adult general education programs. Mintzberg (1989) notes that "the presence of extensivelytrained workers who require group collaboration and produce customized outputs suggests theinnovative form" (p. 262).Another clue to an organization's configuration in regard to its operating core is the ratio ofsupport staff to operators: a ratio of three or four to one implies a professional or innovativeconfiguration (Mintzberg, 1989, p. 266). A rough comparison of union support staff (gradelevels VI and below) and union professional staff (grade levels VII and above) for the year1991 indicates a ratio of 117:46, approximately 2.5:1. 1 The ratio is consistent with aninnovative configuration, as is the dependence professional staff place upon the supportgroup.2Key Coordinating MechanismThe replies of executive members concerning methods by which work was coordinated amongthe parts of OLA centered upon direct supervision, standardization of work processes andstandardization of outputs as key coordinating mechanisms. On the surface, these mechanismsare characteristic of entrepreneurial, machine and diversified forms respectively; however, it isimportant to consider additional qualifying remarks made by Executive Council with respect tocoordination of work as well as other contextual clues, as the initial comments may reflect moretheir desire than actual practice. For example, though work processes had been standardized toan extent, each component was left to its own discretion to execute the processes. Theprocesses were conceived as "guidelines" rather than absolute rules and regulations, few ofwhich exist at the Agency in any formal way outside of some administrative policy statementsand the collective agreement. The great difficulty that the Agency had in arriving at a commonlyaccepted model for project development is a case in point: the title of the document which181The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4issued from the committee after two agonizing years of deliberation and consensus-seekingwas entitled "OLA project management model and guidelines for roles, responsibilities anddeliverables." As another example, though it is true that enrollment and budget variance reportswere (and are) regularly monitored, the focus of this controlling mechanism is to alert topotential management problems rather than to wield a club over manager's heads if targets areunmet. Though the control has the look of standardization of outputs, it does not have the feelof it.The telling "'I don't do windows' doesn't wash around here" comment suggests that directsupervision is likely less a coordinating factor than might first be expected and that mutualadjustment might be more the norm at OLA. The distinction between line management andoperating staff was not always clear. Managers, of which there were a significant number,were involved primarily in seeking out project work for staff and performing liaison roles,coordinating among various project work teams and units (for example, the Directors' groupwhich convened primarily to exchange information). Line and staff roles sometimes blurred,particularly during involvement on project teams. It would be fair to say, as was reflected bythe difficulty executive members had in responding to questions regarding power-holders at theAgency, that managers derived greater power from their own expertise and interpersonal skillsthan from their positions. The distinction an organization makes between its line and staff isanother clue to its configuration: its presence implying a machine or diversified configuration;its absence implying an innovative configuration (Mintzberg, 1989, p. 266).There are two other coordinating mechanisms which point toward an innovative configuration,as well: the preponderance of committees and multidisciplinary project teams. Standing andspecial task force committees were commonplace and the bane of many a staff member ofOLA, always democratic in ensuring equal representation from across the organization and for182The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4this reason, a somewhat inefficient method of organizational communication. Resulting highworkload stress was a common complaint at the Agency. Project teams consisted of supportstaff, operating professionals, middle line managers and experts either parachuted into theproject from functional groupings elsewhere in the organization (for example, the informationsystems department of the administrative component or the telecommunications specialists ofthe Knowledge Network component) or contracted in from outside the organization (inparticular, content specialists and consultants). The types of projects worked on wereinstructional in nature, either funded through Agency budgets or, more frequently, throughfunding from outside the Agency or a combination of both, part of the Agency's strategicdirection toward revenue diversification. Committees and project teams are characteristic offluid, organic structures like the innovative configuration; indeed, given the Agency's penchantfor outside funding, there appears to be a blend of two forms of the configuration: anadministrative and an operating innovative configuration.The next two parameters, the key part of the organization and approach to decentralization ofdecision-making, are considered in tandem; as will be seen, they are difficult to distinguish inthe pre-reorganized structure of OLA.Key Part of the Organization and Decentralization of Decision-MakingAt first glance, given the concerns over fragmentation of the organization into autonomouscomponents, it is tempting to conclude that the market-based groupings of OLA imply adiversified superstructure. However, the nature of the work and coordinating mechanisms arenot typical of a conglomerate of independent businesses. Furthermore, the lack of performancecontrols exercised by the strategic apex (indeed, its sense of relative weakness) and the inabilityof each component to independently pursue its own individual strategy suggest that another183The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4configuration may be at work. In fact, there appeared to be no clear locus of control at OLAprior to reorganization; power tended to flow to wherever the relevant expertise resided.Executive members saw themselves as relatively weak, caught up in inefficient minor thy-to-day operational decision-making and unable to grapple with more significant, longer-termissues. They saw greater power belonging to the middle line and operating core, butacknowledged that, although delegation of authority and responsibility was espoused, it wasinconsistent and varied from component to component. Frustration with dated andunresponsive regulatory mechanisms such as the Student Information Management System(SIMS) simply reinforced the lack of power. As Mintzberg (1989) notes, the innovativeconfiguration is not competent at doing ordinary things; "it is designed for the extraordinary"(p. 218). All staff experienced conflict regarding the ambiguity of decision-making processes atthe Agency: three executive members found themselves in frequent conflict regarding their dualroles of component leadership and Agency vice-presidency; the directors' group (everexpanding to accommodate non-directors who reported directly to vice-presidents) were unsureof their decision-making capacity and why they needed to meet, other than for exchange ofinformation; operating staff frequently expressed concerns over common turf and differingcomponent interpretations (for example, academic regulations for the Open University andOpen College did not always match and sometimes led to internal contradictions). Ambiguity oftasks, coupled with selective decentralization of decision-making, is characteristic of theinnovative configuration.184The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4Approach to Strategy-MakingThe desire of Executive Council for a "grassroots" approach to strategy-making at OLA is alsoreminiscent of the innovative configuration. Indeed, organizational acceptance of the overallgoal, countered by lack of consensus concerning the details of means to achieve the goal,characteristic of OLA, is consistent with an innovative structure. Components in their press toserve the needs of their own clientele would often engage in what Mintzberg (1989) terms"skunkworks," a strategy pursued in a pocket of the organization which later becomes morebroadly organizational when the organization, in need of change and casting about for newstrategies, seizes upon it" (p. 213). OLA's foray into computer conferencing was conceived injust this way: the Open College had need of computer conferencing technology for one of itscourses and when it ran into delays in other parts of the organization regarding policy decisionson the types of technology in which OLA should invest, it went out and rented space on a localprivate computer bulletin board service for its students. This is now being considered amongviable alternatives for the Agency's provision of a computer conferencing service.Context or EnvironmentThe context or environment of OLA was consistently portrayed by executive members ascomplex, diverse and dynamic. The emphasis on expansion of instructional technology andcapitalization on use of a major corporate asset, the television broadcast service, is alsodemonstrative of an organization that found itself in a highly competitive environment. Such isthe environment innovative organizations, and especially young organizations, also findthemselves in. Mintzberg (1989) notes that such a configuration is difficult to sustain over timeand there is a tendency for such structures to bureaucratize as they age toward more machine-185The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4like or professional configurations (pp. 208-209). Farrell's call for strengthened corporateleadership, clearer decision-making authorities and accountabilities, more effectivecommunication linkages and improved feedback mechanisms may well reflect these tendencies.Other Design ParametersSeveral design parameters have already been commented upon, including approaches tostrategy-making, decentralization of power and superstructure grouping of positions. Of theother design parameters not mentioned, design of individual positions and lateral linkages,these are also indicative of an innovative configuration. Within the design of individualpositions, the mix of horizontal and vertical specialization among positions as well as the lackof significant indoctrination or training (other than that pursued by individual professionals) areconsistent with innovative configurations. Behaviour formalization at OLA through the use ofsoftware systems and policies and procedures (many of which are unwritten) is relativelyflexible; only the detailed job description and job evaluation process and inflexible StudentInformation Management Systems software, more in keeping with a machine-like structure,seem inconsistent with the innovative configuration. Lateral linkages, such as the soft controlmechanisms of budget and enrollment variance, project team matrix structures, and liaisonpositions which straddle departments of the Agency in matrix-like fashion (e.g., the OpenCollege's Project and Financial Assistant or Information Systems' Client Service Manager),again support the innovative configuration.186The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4ConclusionWith the exception of design of individual positions and some inflexible regulatorymechanisms at the Agency which is more consistent with machine-like structures, theinnovative form appears to provide a fairly accurate portrayal of OLA's structure between 1988and 1992. A few telltale signs of the innovative form identified by Mintzberg (1989) provideconfirmation. The innovative configuration's ever-changing organizational charts could not betruer of the Agency during this period: a running joke at public presentations was thesuggestion that manipulation of small "post-it notes" on the organizational chart was the onlyway to maintain its currency. Indeed, as vice-presidential Agency responsibilities shuffled overtime, it was sometimes difficult to obtain up-to-date charts, even from the President's office.The innovative configuration's penchant toward politicization is also evident in the conflict andtension giving rise to organizational restructuring.In the second half of this chapter, a prediction is made for the Agency's reorganizedconfiguration.187The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4Predictions for OLA's Reorganized StructureIntroductionMcAuley (1986) reminded the joint board of OLI and KNOW that the proposed structure forOLA would be transitional in nature (pp. 4-5). There was an expectation that the initialstructure of OLA would evolve and be a "starting point, not a final solution" (p. 7). But intowhat kind of a structure would OLA evolve? This is the next question to be addressed by thisstudy. For some possible answers, Mintzberg's (1989) conceptual framework is relied upononce again, in particular, his contingency or situational hypotheses and his life cyclehypotheses.Contingency or Situational HypothesesMintzberg's contingency or situational hypotheses suggest ways in which factors of theorganization's environment affect the choice of design parameters for an organization'sstructure. These factors include: age and size of the organization; its technical systems; itscontext or environment; and external powers which may influence it. The hypotheses do notspeak to specific configurations but do give clues to the characteristics of an organizationalstructure under these environmental conditions; in other words, they narrow down the "playingfield" of possible configurations into which an organizational structure might evolve. 3 Acursory examination of the 14 hypotheses is revealing:188The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4Age and size1. The older an organization, the more formalized its behaviour.2. The larger an organization, the more formalized its behaviour.3. The larger an organization, the more elaborate its structure; that is, the more specializedits jobs and units and the more developed its administrative components. (p. 106)The OLA has been in existence since 1988; its precursors, OLI and KNOW, had been inexistence since 1978 and 1980 respectively. By 1992, the Agency was certainly getting older.And it was certainly getting bigger. The staff size of OLI in 1985 prior to amalgamation was123 full-time staff and 160 part-time tutors; 4 the staff size of KNOW in 1985 was 38.5 By1991, the OLA had grown to 269 full-time staff (almost a two-fold increase in seven years) andapproximately 200 part-time tutors (a 25% increase in seven years). 6 By the first threehypotheses then, it would be fair to say that into whatever configuration OLA would evolve, itwould be a formal and elaborate structure. In terms of Mintzberg's (1989) configurations, thiswould rule out the simple or entrepreneurial structure; other configurations, such as machine,diversified, professional and innovative, would still apply.4. Structure reflects the age of the industry from its founding...[For example,] industrieswhich predate the industrial revolution seem to favor one kind of structure, those of theage of the early railroads another, and so on...the surprising thing is that thesestructures seem to carry through to new periods... (pp. 106-107)This hypothesis will be discussed in conjunction with the fourteenth hypothesis.189The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4Technical system5. The more regulating the technical system—that is, the more it controls the work of theoperators^the more formalized the operating work and the more bureaucratic thestructure of the operating core.6. The more complex the technical system, the more elaborate and professional thesupport staff.7.^The automation of the operating core transforms a bureaucratic administrative structureinto an organic one.The Agency has been demonstrated to have a positive thirst for technology; indeed, Farrellindicated that its very survival rests on its ability to cultivate the technology and demonstrateleadership in the technology to achieve its mandate? Prior to reorganization, the Agency hadalready made a substantial investment in technology: 6.2 million dollars of public and corporatesupport were directed toward its broadcast and telecommunications facility and over 23 milliondollars of government monies had been provided to build a new state-of-the-art facility,"wired" for the future, in Burnaby. 8 Moreover, the organization already had a substantialhistory of technical systems: the Student Information Management System (SIMS) had beendevised by the organization's information systems department and used since the early 1980's;a complete conversion of the Agency's electronic publishing system to a Macintosh platformhad occurred in the late 1980's; the vast majority of staff had access to computer terminals andsystems such as e-mail were in common usage by the mid-1980's. The move to the newBurnaby facility gave staff additional technological advantages such as voice-mail features ontelephone sets, for example. Thus, from these hypotheses, it would be consistent to expect aconfiguration which is more bureaucratic in structure and more elaborate in its supportstructure. Also, one would expect an organic structure to evolve as staff become more190The Restructuring of OLA: Chapter 4automated. A machine, diversified or professional configuration is not ruled out by the fifthhypothesis; a machine, diversified, professional or innovative configuration is not ruled out bythe sixth hypothesis; a professional or innovative configuration is not ruled out by the seventhhypothesis. In sum, these hypotheses would point toward a professional configuration.Environment8. The more dynamic an organization's environment, the more organic its structure.9. The more complex an organization's environment, the more decentralized its structure.10. The more diversified a