Leadership – organizational typologies

By | November 19, 2023

Organizational typologies with a focus on authority and intimacy, corporate character and culture, and healthy corporate culture

To begin a logical discussion of typologies related to authority and intimacy, organizational character and culture, and the characteristics of a healthy culture, we must first consider the basic types of organizations that exist. This information is of significant relevance as the nature of the organization often crowds out the macro culture of the particular society in which it is located (Schein, 2010). The nature and uniqueness of the organization also plays a large role in analyzing the relationships between employees and their organizations. As Schein points out, this is “the most fundamental cultural dimension on which to build a typology” (Schein, 2010, p. 163). We therefore start the discussion of our subject typologies with the characterization of the primary organizational types.

Schein (2010) characterizes organizations in three main categories: compulsive, utilitarian, and normative. Coercive organizations are those whose members are physically held captive by the organization. These would be correctional facilities, involuntary mental hospitals, branches of the military, and other specialized training institutions. Useful organizations would be any type of business organization where there is an exchange of consideration for performance or service. Normative organizations are made up of non-profit organizations such as churches, philanthropic and other groups with goals that in some way benefit society at large (Schein, 2010).

Typologies of authority and intimacy

Because of the nature of coercive organization, authority is absolute, creating strong countercultures among its citizens who feel they must band together to defend themselves against the absolute authority that reigns over them. As a result of their assumptions, close peer relationships often develop and underlie the organization’s strong countercultures (Schein, 2010). What is equally important is that not all countercultures are necessarily negative. An example would be Christian and other religiously based countercultural groups in prisons. The prison authority usually separates the physical locations where each subgroup is housed.

Although authority is negotiated, in utilitarian organization we find the development of countercultural groups represented by organized unions that defend the interests of employees and protect them from exploitation by management. Typically, organizations avoid close relationships to avoid strong counter-management subcultures. A relevant example would be the teachers’ union, which brings together thousands of otherwise isolated members in common support to fight efforts by state education authorities who find it necessary to limit certain union benefits.

Authority and intimacy within the normative organization are uniquely different, primarily because they are often voluntary and charitable organizations whose members have chosen to become a part of and are always free to leave. Authority is accepted by members, and intimate relationships are encouraged and desired, with the expectation that unity will increase the likelihood of achieving organizational goals (Schein, 2010). Religious institutions are a great example where authority is typically represented by a charismatic or founding leader. Interestingly, although members occasionally complain, they often remain a part of the organization because of their commitment to the organization’s goals. The intimate relationships also become a connection to membership retention.

Corporate character and culture typologies

Organizational typologies for corporate character and culture revolve around two dimensions: how primary tasks are driven, what is characterized as a personality type, and the type of organizational leadership characterized by the alignment of the organization’s primary focus. The former is represented by the twelve Jungian archetypes. The latter dimension describes the leadership orientation; what type of leadership drives the organization in fulfilling its primary missions (Schein, 2010). A third model, based on Blake and Mouton’s original Managerial Grid, a two-dimensional leadership theory that measures both the manager’s concern for people and for productivity (Daft, Marcic, 2011), was proposed by Ancona with a third element modified, external environment; which, according to Ancona, must be taken into account for an accurate assessment of effectiveness (Schein, 2010).

Using the previous correctional facility example, the primary focus dimension would be role-based and the Jungian archetype would be revolutionary. For the religious organization, the type would be supportive with a nurturing personality. For the corporate organization, the type would be power-oriented with a ruler personality.

Characteristics of a healthy culture

The question remains: What exactly does a healthy culture look like? Schein presents a list of 10 characteristics of a healthy corporate culture derived from a 2006 research study by Sackman, Bertelsman and the Foundation that led to the selection of six companies, which they describe as “outstanding examples of the development and use of corporate culture.” organizational culture into their excellence” (Schein, 2010, p.172). A further 13 additional characteristics were added from a change program conducted by O’Donovan, 2006 (Schein, 2010).

The first category is people. The properties are:

1) The individual’s locus of control: internally directed.
2) The nature of an individual’s worth: inherent in being human;

3) The power of humanity: subject to universal laws;

4) The complexity of human intelligence: multifaceted;

5) The essence of corporate culture: intelligent; and

6) The nature of diversity: differences in thinking.

The second category were places:

7) The natural environment: The center of existence. The last category was things:

8) The central paradigm of the organization: principle-centered in word and spirit;

9) The nature of company values: a real commitment;

10) External image: authentic;

11) The type of organization: one unit;

12) Core purpose: responsible provision of goods and services;

13) Relationship between workforce and organization: member/citizen;

14) External stakeholder relationship: to be respected;

15) Relationship between organization and business environment: aligned;

16) Bad news and whistleblowing: a threat;

17) decision-making: moral;

18) Responsibility for learning and development: localized;

19) communication: open;

20) How best results are achieved: altruism;

21) Response speed to customer requirements: high;

22) The service provider: all employees; and

23) Emotional expression: being encouraged.


Daft RL, Marcic D (2011). Understanding Management 7th edition. Southwestern Cengage Learning. Mason, OH 45040.

McShane, SL, Von Glinow, MA (2012). organizational behavior. McGraw-Hill Irwin, New York, NY 10020.

Schein, EH (2010). organizational culture and leadership. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-1741.

Thanks to Diana D Williams | #Leadership #organizational #typologies

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