GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue


14. Organizations should be structured in a clear hierarchy in which the people at each level from top to bottom are held accountable for completing a particular component of the work. Any other organizational structure goes against human nature and will ultimately prove fruitless.


Question


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and / or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


Analysis


The speaker claims that all organizations should include a clear hierarchy of accountability because any other structure would work against human nature and therefore prove fruitless in the end. This claim gives rise to complex issues about human nature and the social structures best suited to it. In my view, the claim assumes a distortedly narrow view of human nature, ignoring certain aspects of it that are undermined by hierarchical structure in ways that ultimately hurt the organization.

First, the organizational structure the speaker recommends undermines the nexus between worker and product that facilitates efficiency and productivity. When employees are responsible for just their small component of work, they can easily lose sight of larger organizational goals and the importance of their role in realizing these goals. In turn, workers will feel alienated, unimportant and unmotivated to do work they are proud of. These effects cannot help but damage the organization in the end.

Second, compartmentalizing tasks in a hierarchical structure stifles creativity. An acquaintance of mine worked for a company which had established a rigid organizational barrier between designers and engineers. The designers often provided the engineers with concepts that were unworkable from an engineering standpoint. Conversely, whenever an engineer offered a design idea that allowed for easier engineering, the designers would simply warn the engineer not to interfere. This is a typical case where organizational barriers operate against creativity harming the organization in the end.

Third, strict hierarchy undermines the collegiality and cooperation among co-workers needed for a sense of common purpose and pride in accomplishment. The message from the designers to the engineers at my friend's company produced just the opposite resentment between the two departments, low morale among the engineers whose creative suggestions were ignore, and ultimate resignation to do inferior work with an attitude that developing ideas is a waste of time.

In sum, the speaker seems to assume that humans are essentially irresponsible and unmotivated and that they therefore need external motivation by way of a layered bureaucratic structure. The speaker misunderstands human nature which instead requires creative exercise and sense of purpose and pride in accomplishment. By stifling these needs with organizational barriers the organization is ultimately worse off.

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