The moderating effect of professionalization on the relationship: between degree of technological routineness and structural formalization in a complex organization

Date

1976

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between two organizational characteristics - the degree of technological routineness and structural formalization - as moderated by the type of professional employed by the organization. While the relationship between an organization's technology and its structure has been frequently examined in the literature, the strength of the relationship has varied from study to study. Some of this variance was attributed to the various measures utilized by the researchers; however, additional variance was attributed to the existence of "other" variables which moderated this relationship. This study proposed that professionalization, or the type of professional employed, would act as a moderator for the strength of the relationship between characteristics of both technology and structure - the degree of technological routineness and structural formalization, respectively. The field study was conducted at a large university which, by virtue of its diverse nature, was known to employ a variety of different technologies to accomplish its tasks as well as a known listing of rules and regulations to govern accomplishment of these tasks. The sample site also employed a wide range of personnel. Thirty-five university departments were examined for: (1) degree of technological routineness and (2) degree of structural formalization. Non-parametric statistics were employed to determine a strong relationship between departmental degree of routineness and formalization. Departments were then categorized according to the dominant type of professional (ranging from Ph.D.'s to non-professionals) in the department. With the effects of different levels of professionalization held constant, the relationship between departmental degree of routineness and formalization was re-examined, at which time the relationship diminished to near-zero. Professionalization was not a predictable moderator of the relationship between degree of technological routineness and structural formalization. The results of the study indicated that the degree of professionalization "explained" the nature of the department degree of routineness formalization relationship rather than "moderated" the relationship. Because professionalization was strongly related to both degree of routineness and formalization, the relationship between these two variables diminished to near-zero when the effects of professionalization were held constant. The results of the study indicate that at least one variable, professionalization, undermines the relationship between degree of technological routineness and structural formalization. Other variables, particularly those variables which the individual brings to the workplace with him/her may also affect the degree of routineness-formalization relationship. Two problems are associated with this research. First, the measure of technological routineness employed in this study needs additional validation. Only recently introduced into the literature, the degree of technological routineness measure may not be suited to extremely non-routine technologies. Secondly, measures of effectiveness were not included in this research. Therefore, "effective" combinations of degree of technological routineness and structural formalization levels are not available. The matching of the degree of technological routine ness and structural formalization levels in accordance with the organization's or department's criteria of effectiveness is the next step for research of this nature.

Description

Keywords

Citation