Introduction to Organizations (Businesses and Nonprofits)

Much of the content of this topic came from this book: Consulting and Organization Development - Book Cover

© Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.

Managing a successful organization (nonprofit or for-profit) -- or building up the health of an already established organization -- requires healthy, ongoing leadership and management, planning, product and service development, marketing and financial management. To carry out these practices in a healthy manner, it's important to first understand the basic "territory" in which these practices are carried out.

These practices are all "systems" that occur within the larger system of the organization. This is not academic talk -- this is a highly practical point to understand. To truly understand and to be effective at these practices, it helps greatly if leaders, managers and employees have some basic understanding of the overall system of the organization, including its common dimensions, cultures and life cycles. Too often, this basic nature is not understood. Instead, people tend to focus only on the day-to-day events and then when problems occur, they don't see the big picture in order to resolve these problems for the long term. Consequently, they mistakenly focus on what's urgent, rather than on what's important -- if you focus on what's important, you'll reduce what's urgent. (A useful topic to review concurrent to this one, is Systems Thinking.)

Sections of This Topic Include


Basic Definition of Organization (including some optional reading about systems thinking)
Various Ways to Look at Organizations (as systems, organisms, etc)
Two Basic Types of U.S. Business Organizations -- For-Profit and Nonprofit
Legal Forms and Traditional Structures of U.S. Businesses (for-profit and nonprofit)
Common Dimensions in Organizations (features to consider about organizations)
What Makes Each Organization Unique
Key Concepts in the Design of an Organization
Organizational Culture and Changing Culture (the "personality" of the organization)
Basic Overview of Life Cycles of Organizations

Principles and Practices of Organizational Design

Organizational Design -- Guidelines (includes many links about organizational design)

Special Topics

New Paradigm in Management
- - - Characteristics of the Future Organizations
- - - New Structures (networks, virtual org., self-managed teams, learning org, self-designing org)
Basic Overview of Nonprofit Organizations
Various (and Contrary) Perspectives

Also See the Library's Blogs Related to Organizational Theory

In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which have posts related to Organizational Theories. Scan down the blog's page to see various posts. Also see the section "Recent Blog Posts" in the sidebar of the blog or click on "next" near the bottom of a post in the blog.

Library's Consulting and Organizational Development Blog
Library's Leadership Blog
Library's Nonprofit Capacity Building Blog
Library's Supervision Blog

Also see
Related Library Topics

Various (and Sometimes Contrary) Perspectives

Development of Management Thoughts
The Skeptical and Affirmative Postmodernist (Organization) Theory Debates
Major Organizational Theories

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To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.

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