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The Justice Institute of British Columbia : a structural analysis DeVries, Irwin John


This is a case study and analysis of the Justice Institute of British Columbia, a Board-governed provincial post-secondary institute. Under contract to various provincial government ministries, the Justice Institute's five Academies and two central Divisions train municipal police, provincial court and correctional employees, fire service personnel, ambulance attendants and provincial emergency program personnel, and provide programs for professionals and the public in the areas of justice and public safety. Although the proposed organization was conceived to meet training and educational needs that existed under the umbrella of the Ministry of Attorney-General, shortly before its formal establishment the Justice Institute was captured by the proposed Colleges and Provincial Institutes Act and now came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. Two fundamental issues emerged from the case study: jurisdictional ambiguity, involving the relation between the Justice Institute and the Ministries of Education and Attorney-General; and internal organization, involving the relation between the five Academies and the central Justice Institute administrative structure. These emergent issues were found to be primarily structural in origin. Therefore a structural analysis was conducted, based on Mintzberg's "extended configuration hypothesis," which identifies and explains fundamental relationships among organizational design parameters and characteristics of the environment in which the organization exists. Within Mintzberg's framework the Justice Institute was identified as a divisionalized form. The case study and emergent issues were analyzed in relation to the main characteristics of the divisionalized form. In the context of jurisdictional ambiguity, it was found that decentralized internal structural relationships, and client grouping as opposed to functional grouping, may have been key factors in the survival of the Justice Institute in a period of environmental turbulence during the early to mid 1980s, and in its demonstrated effectiveness in fulfilling its organizational mission. It was further found that a strong central structure was required to stabilize the Justice Institute, particularly at times when the environment was inimical to the continued existence of the Justice Institute. It was suggested that this apparent contradiction lay at the roots of the instability of the early organization. The study recommended that the Justice Institute recognize the weaknesses, and build upon the strengths, of the divisionalized form. Further, it found Mintzberg's extended configuration hypothesis to be an effective instrument for performing a structural analysis of an organization.

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