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Technology's Influence On Organisations.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

TECHNOLOGY'S INFLUENCE ON ORGANISATIONS In the early 1950's, technological advances occurred at what seemed to be rapid fire. While developed mostly for military use, products using technologies such as radar and the transistor were spilling into public use. While firms were quick to understand the commercial success such products would bring, they were unprepared for what else was to come. Technology meant big changes, not only with the development, manufacture, marketing and distribution of these new products, but also within their own corporate structure and culture. This caught the attention of British academians, who became increasingly aware that businesses must solve social and economic problems that would inevitably result from such technological advances.1 A small research unit was set up at South East Essex College in September 1953 on the initiative of the Principal, Dr. F. Heathcoat; the Joint Committee on Human Relations in Industry of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and the Medical Research Council. Together, they sponsored a four-year research survey of the organisational structure of 100 firms, supplemented by detailed case studies. Joan Woodward wrote a short account of the study when the project completed in 1958, which was published by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. She reported that the firms studied varied considerably in their organisational structure and that similar administrative expedients could lead to wide variations in results. Many of the variations found in the organisational structure of the firms studied did, however, appear to be closely linked with differences in manufacturing techniques. Different technologies imposed different kinds of demands on individuals and organisations, and these demands had to be met through an appropriate structure.2 In 1965, Woodward furthered this small body of knowledge into what is still referred to today as "industrial organisation theory." She initially sought a correlation between organisation size and design. Instead, she found a potential relationship between technology and design. ...read more.

Middle

"To effectively deal with an ever-shifting business environment, rapid technological change and stiff global competition, not only do organisations need to change their approach to doing business, managers must change their approach to managing projects, says one. "Additionally, global organisations require even further collaboration across numerous cultures and time zones. While the projects are getting more complex, the margin for error is shrinking. In today's environment, project managers need to assure top management of a clear and strong return."19 NEW SOLUTIONS FOR MANAGING COMPLEX PROJECTS The need for fluid methodologies has been acknowledged by project management professionals since the 1950s. Consider the evolution of models appropriate to some changing dominant project characteristic during the past four decades: In the 1960s There was 'scheduling' for keeping control of simple, certain projects; In the 1970s Project managers relied upon 'teamwork' to integrate complex projects components and functions; In the 1980s Importance was placed on 'flexibility' for reducing uncertainty within complex, highly technical projects; and In the 1990s 'Simultaneity' or dynamism was the approach for complex, uncertain and quick projects.20 Thus, it is not surprising to note the addition of other, newer organisational structures and technical tools as we approach the middle of first decade in 2000. Below, this study divides a few of the most significant into two categories: Organisational structure, where researchers seem to look first, thanks to Joan Woodward, and computer programs and models. NEW ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES We have seen how traditional, functional organisational structures were simply the wrong environment for project managers. Its shortcoming led to the matrix design, an organisational arrangement based on two overlapping bases of departmentalisation (e.g., functional departments and product categories), wherein employees are members of both their own departments and a project team under a project manager. Given, matrix structuring did, and in some ways still does, improve organisational flexibility and provide an efficient way for a company to use its people. ...read more.

Conclusion

(Some may argue that this changes daily.) From the abundance of new studies each year, researchers and practitioners seem keenly aware that project managers of 2000 must take new, highly disciplined, sophisticated approaches to the planning, implementation and measurement of their activities. # # # 1 Joan Woodward. Management and Technology, 1958. Preface. 2 Ibid. 3 Joan Woodward. Industrial Organisational Theory and Practice, p. 213. 4 Graham Winch. Managing Construction Projects, p. 366. 5 J. Williams. Modelling Complex Projects, p. 42. 6 Henry Mintzberg. The Structuring of Organisations: A Synthesis of the Research, pp. 75-76. 7 Op. Cit., Winch. p. 378. 8 Op. Cit., Winch. p. 366. 9 The Center For Managing Business Practices. Project Management: The State of the Industry. 10 Aaron Shenhar. Improving Project Management: Linking Success Criteria to Project Type. 11 Aaron Shenhar. From LowTo High-Tech Project Management, R&D Management. 23(3):199-124. 12 Op. Cit., Winch. p. 379. 13 Ibid., p. 379. 14 J. Williams. Modelling Complex Projects. Excerpt, p. 4. 15 Aaron Shenhar. Some Projects Are More Equal: Toward a Typology of Project Management Styles. 16 Aaron Shenhar. Improving Project Management: Linking Success Criteria to Project Type. 17 Unknown Author. Management Organisation Structures. 18 Nigel Smith. Engineering Project Management, p. 362. 19 Lori Candau. Four Keys To Managing Complex Projects. 20 Op. Cit., Williams. p. 4. 21 Charlie Cook. Managing Organisational Design. P. 25. 22 Peter Morris. 2001. Updating Project Management Bodies of Knowledge. Project Management Journal. 23Op. Cit., Winch. p. 373. 24 Op. Cit., The Center For Managing Business Practices. 25 Op. Cit., Candau., Four Keys To Managing Complex Projects. 26 Op. Cit., Winch. pp. 373-374. 27 Unknown author. See Reference List. 28 The Center For Managing Business Practices. Project Management: The State of the Industry. 29 Geoff Reiss. Project Management Demystified. Today's Tools and Techniques. pp. 117-118. 30 Op. Cit., Smith. p. 149. 31 Op. Cit., Winch. Managing Construction Projects, Chapter 14. pp. 339-363. 32 Op. Cit., Smith. p. 145. 33 Op. Cit., Williams. p. 102. 34 Op. Cit., Williams. p. 102-103. 35 Op. Cit., Winch. p. 339. 36 Op. Cit., Smith. pp. 148-149. - 1 - ...read more.

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