3 Sep 2022


The Natural Organizational Model and the Informal Groups

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The nature of an organization is based on different factors such as the environment it is set up in. also, the type of activity it undertakes. This paper will examine the natural organizational model, the informal groups within an organization, and how they affect the organizational structure.

Reasons for Choosing Natural Model 

I have observed a natural organization at play in a friend’s place of work. Önday, (2016), defines a natural organization as that model which emphasizes the importance of informal and interpersonal relationships over formal structures. Natural theorists argue that an organization cannot have a specific way to achieve its goals (Önday, 2016). An organization’s goals are a combination of different goals that need to be realized hence enabling the organization to realize the intended goal. Therefore, according to Reizer et al. (2019), the people involved in the process such as employees have different ways to help achieve these goals. I chose the model because I like the idea of how people come together to realize a common goal. For example, even in organizations structured as rational, the employees are expected to work together, sometimes in groups to help realize a specific goal. Furthermore, Brinia et al. (2020), indicates that naturally, people will make personal relationships in any setup that they are in since they are social beings.

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Some characteristics informed my conclusion that the organizational system in place was natural. Being a school is a social institution that has people from different backgrounds. Therefore, while the goal of the institution is to provide quality education, there is no specific way of doing it. Therefore, every teacher is allowed to formulate different personal goals that will aid them in achieving the main goal of the institution. According to naturalists, Önday, (2016), indicates that there is always a difference between the organizational specified goals and the actual goals to be realized. As a result, according to Reizer et al. (2019), the organization has to employ different people to achieve these goals which are not the specified goals. For instance, a school will have to employ a nurse to be in charge of the sanatorium, a finance clerk, chef among other members of staff. However, the goal of an educational institution is to provide education that is offered by teachers.

In addition, the system is cooperative. For instance, according to Winiecki (2019), to achieve the set goals of providing quality education, different people have to come together; teachers, support staff, and students. Önday (2016), indicates that the cooperative systems theory indicates that in a natural system the unity of purpose helps the organization achieve its specified goals. Further, Brinia et al. (2020) state that the people involved need to come together, communicate with each other, and hence accomplish the goal. Furthermore, according to Winiecki (2019), naturalists argue that in the process of realizing the organizational goals, there has to be an element whereby the people involved are willing to serve. This is the perfect characteristic of the organization I observed, the teachers are more in service of the students that they are tutoring.

The institution requires fostering personal relationships. For example, a teacher needs to understand different aspects of their students such as skills, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and other factors such as psychological needs. According to Winiecki (2019), sometimes children from unstable backgrounds can have different issues taking a toll on their performance in school as well as their relationship with their peers. Therefore, the natural model is best suited in such an environment. Winiecki (2019), further indicates that the behavior of human beings is in most cases influenced by their social environment as was proved by the Hawthorne Plant study in 1930. Therefore, if the children are assisted by the teacher on a personal level on the different aspects of their academic life, the student is likely to improve on their performance or change their negative perceptions about the general environment.

Some issues arise that require the teacher to not be so formal. For example, a teacher who is assigned to teach history can be required to be the coach of the soccer team or any other team. The teacher can also be expected to take up another informal role that is different from the specified teaching job. Therefore, in such a setup, it will be difficult to achieve the results if the person does not become informal. Here, the person is expected to take issues with a different tone to achieve another result. Önday (2016), echoes the sentiments of a naturalist scholar Elton Mayo, who argued that people need to be motivated so that they can fully commit to the aspects of the organization. Therefore, closer monitoring of different scenarios results in people performing differently (Önday, 2016). It is expected that teachers guide their students and hence at times, engage in discussions in an informal way.

Effectiveness of the Natural Model on the Organization 

The natural model of organization is effective in this aspect. For example, different advantages are accrued through the system. It is well organized, has no conflicts, and achieves the set goals. This being a school system, there is a proper arrangement of how things are to be done in a structure, each teacher taking up a specific time to accomplish their daily objectives. The meticulous organization creates room for informal engagements. For example, a teacher can plan to meet a certain student to personally discuss their performance. Also, a student can request to meet the teacher and ask for more time to complete an assignment. These activities are done outside the specified official structure of the organization where the teacher is expected to get to class and finish the lesson. Therefore, according to Önday (2016), it builds relationships that go ahead to help the organization achieve its primary objective of providing quality education. Under the human relations theory, Winiecki (2019), indicates that a natural system can fairly improve how people interact in an organization as well enable the organization to achieve the set goals.

The effectiveness of the natural model is also seen through the harmony in how the people are working. There are no conflicts. For instance, while the goal is to provide quality education to learners, different players take different approaches to help the organization realize its goal. In this instance, every teacher develops their lesson plans and finds ways to cover the syllabus. While others fancy breaking classes in small groups, others fancy a group of the whole class. The organization sets an ideology as the guiding tool, something like a motto and employees work independently to achieve the goal. However, according to Reizer et al. (2019), they are interdependent whereby, the decisions are made from a common point but implemented separately. This unity helps in the realization process of the specified goals. In the long run, Reizer et al. (2019), state that there is a definable approach to issues in the organization since they are originating from the same source.

Therefore, working on the strengths of the natural model has enabled the organization to achieve its goals. When different talents are brought together and uniquely managed, they help achieve a higher goal (Winiecki, 2019). Furthermore, according to Reizer et al. (2019), when employees are put in a position of self-critic, they tend to perform better than when there is rigidity in the form of operation. Therefore, further, Reizer et al. (2019), indicate that in a natural setup, the employees or the team players are empowered to independently perform while maintaining the identity of the organization. As a result, different experiences have enriched the whole organization.

Formation of Informal Groups 

An organization always has groups that are formed among the members of staff for different reasons. For example, according to Brinia et al. (2020), these groupings cater to the social and psychological needs of their members. According to Buta (2020), there are generally four types of informal groups that build within a formal setup. Buta (2020), states that apathetic groups are almost dormant on social issues within the organization. According to Brinia et al. (2020), the needs that prompt individuals in an organization to form or join informal groups include, airing their grievances against the management, representing special interests. Also, issues such as the need for friendship contribute to the formation of such groupings (Brinia et al.. 2020). In the organization, I observed, there are people from different ethnicity, they are voluntarily united because of their background. According to Buta (2020), people will come together when they have a shared background or heritage with which they can identify. Such groups are necessary for people to fulfill their need of belonging.

Furthermore, in the staffroom, friendships mushroomed between people near the other. In a general organization, Brinia et al. (2020), states that these are individuals who can in most cases take cover for each other. According to Buta (2020), they perform their duties in a way that they protect each other from any supervisory wrath that might accrue. Also, such groups develop and grow from the need for people to share ideas on common areas (Buta, 2020). They can socially make conversations on the state of the management in the organization without having any intentions of taking action. Brinia et al. (2020), indicate that these groups are important in helping the employees of an organization remain focused.

Characteristics of Informal Groups 

Informal groups have different characteristics. For instance, according to Brinia et al. (2020), they come about as a result of formal engagement. The formal organization has to exist for the informal groups to come up. In a school setup, the school has to be there so that it can have teachers who will then form groups voluntarily based on different interests and social and psychological reasons. Brinia et al. (2020), indicate that the members of these groups are brought together as a result of differentiating reasons such as talent, interests, or background. Additionally, these groups do not have specified rules and procedures (Buta, 2020). There are no rules that guide the way people interrelate in such groupings. However, according to Hunter et al. (2020), in the meantime, norms begin to emerge, and existing members, as well as incoming new members, are expected to heed them. According to Hunter et al. (2020), the norms that come up include: helping each other in times of need in their personal life. According to Buta (2020), members also protect each other from external exploitation or threat within the organization.

Also, members of the same informal group have an independent channel of communication (Buta, 2020). Further, Buta (2020) specifies that there are no specifications or limitations on how people in the group communicate. For example, according to Brinia et al. (2020), a member ranking lowly in the organization can openly and directly reach a high-ranking member of the organization limitlessly as long they belong to the same group. According to Hunter et al. (2020), since there are no rules, these groups promote personal relationships. The engagements in the groups are more than just work-related. Furthermore, these informal groups have no stability. According to Buta (2020), members are allowed to belong to different social groups without any consequences. For example, in an institution, members can interact based on their national background but they can belong to other groups with other people that are championing for a different course (Hunter et al. 2020).

Importance of Informal Groups within the Organization 

A thriving organization needs to have informal groupings. According to Buta, (2020), it is through such groupings that employees express themselves freely about different aspects of the management or the organization without fear of reprisal. Also, Brinia et al. (2020), argue that since members of an informal group are prompted by a unifying reason, they help each other informally on issues related to the job. For example, Brinia et al. (2020), indicate that in case of a personal challenge, members can come together for one of their own and support them. Furthermore, according to Hunter et al. (2020), through cooperation, members of a specific informal group within an organization improve on the strengths of each other. For example, members share materials that are likely to improve on their growth career-wise as well as in personal life. In the long run, Hunter et al. (2020), indicate that members find it easier to learn from their peers and people they have developed personal relationships with than in just an official setup. Formal setups require people to adhere to the protocol which in most cases has delays. According to Buta, (2020), such challenges are bridged by informal groupings.

Apart from helping the organization realize its goals, Brinia et al. (2020), state that informal groups create a conducive environment for working. For example, since members belong to different groups, with a sense of belonging, conflicts are generally reduced in the organization. Also, in case there are differences between different members within a certain group, it is amicably resolved before spilling out of control (Brinia et al., 2020). Furthermore, according to Reizer et al. (2019), since, many challenges come about as a result of work stresses such as trauma, members of the informal groups come together to find activities that they can take part in and find solutions. For instance, members of staff that belong to a certain group can opt to organize a trip together, or check up on each other without the management’s involvement (Buta, 2020). Reizer et al. (2019), further indicate that these small social activities within groups help create a perfect working environment where employees trust and believe in the strengths of each other.

The general communication within the organization improves. For example, the organization always has official modes of communication such as memos, emails, and letters. However, because of unprecedented challenges, the official communication might be affected or the information too complex to decipher. According to Buta (2020), informal groups amplify the communication though in a simple way that members can quickly understand. An organization needs to have proper communication. It enables the management to share the vision of the organization with the employees. According to Hunter et al. (2020), any misunderstanding can lead to issues such as delays, employee absenteeism, and lack of morale. According to Reizer et al. (2019), this will affect the performance of the organization. Therefore, informal groups ensure that members of the group are up to date with management notes.

Impact of Informal Groups on the Organization 

The social groups have had an impact on the organization and the way they work in tandem with the official groups. For example, according to Brinia et al. (2020), formal groups are established by the management in the organization to work on a specific area or issue within the organization. People are put together based on specified characteristics such as skills, competence, and knowledge (Hunter et al.. 2020). However, according to Reizer et al. (2019), for this work, the social groupings allow them to operate, get the goodwill of the general employees. For example, in a social organization such as a school, teachers are categorized under departments where they are expected to achieve a specified goal (Hunter et al., 2020). However, it is greatly characterized by informal groups which help propel forward the agenda of the department. People in the same profession compare notes on the different perspectives in their fields. This exchange is important in enhancing the unity of the employees (Buta 2020). Reizer et al. (2019), states that when the employees are focused on a common agenda, they work to ensure that the organization achieves its specified objectives. Also, the exchange of ideas improves the understanding of the field through sharing of knowledge and experiences which leads to improved results.

Internal Constituencies and Organizational Complexity 

An organization is a complex setup ( Turner & Baker 2019 ). People are drawn up from different backgrounds and are expected to be molded to support a common agenda. Also, according to Turner & Baker (2019), different resources are marshaled by the management to ensure that the organization achieves its goals. However, these goals are generally expected to be realized in a formal arrangement where structures are put in place which in many cases does not yield the expected returns ( Lartey 2020) . The people tasked with implementing the objectives, the employees team up for different reasons and in so doing help to implement the organizational specified goals. However, according to Brinia (2020), because of the different formations and interrelationships that come about as a result of people coming together, some challenges arise. According to Lartey (2020), there are bound to be misunderstandings because of factors such as language barriers, tastes, and preferences, likes, and interests among others. Also, conflicts are likely to be experienced as people show different aspects of their lives. According to Alshammri(2021), these factors are a threat to the existence of any organization. A way has to be identified that can ensure that there is a balance between the inside of the organization and the outside (Hunter et al. 2020).

The complexity theory focuses on different interactions and the resultant feedbacks which alter the system. For instance, according to Lartey (2020), an organization is self-identifiable with its norms and characteristics that are different from others in the same field. Hence, it has resultant complexities and interdependence among different features ( Turner & Baker, 2019 ). For example, in a school set up, the teachers work together to achieve a common goal of providing quality education. However, in so doing, other factors need to be addressed to achieve the main objective. Such factors include: ensuring that the students are in the right state of mind as well as healthy to attend lessons. Therefore, any interference might result in the organization not meeting its objectives. Furthermore, as indicated by Lartey (2020), as a complex adaptive system (CAS), an institution can plunge into chaos are a result of the collision between the agents that work within the system. Therefore, according to Alshammri(2021), to avoid such chaos and to ensure that a system achieves its intended purpose, informal groups are formed, they create a conducive environment that enables peaceful coexistence within the organization. Therefore, the system can then be able to function properly.

According to Alshammri (2021), complexity theory indicates that an organization that is a complex adaptive system (CAS) has a way of organizing itself and achieving order. The order is brought about by independent units in the organization that lead to harmony ( Lartey 2020) . For example, Lartey (2020) indicates that in an organization, people who are naturally related through a common characteristic will find themselves voluntarily aligning. This is the formation of the informal groups that help shape the organization (Brinia et al. 2020). If something goes wrong and the management does not immediately take action, it is the informal groups that initiate the change, they call upon the management to take action. Additionally, informal groups have no specific written rules yet they have members associating with them. According to Alshammri (2021), informal groups hence enable the organization as a CAS to take a certain direction in the realization of the set goals.

According to Stuart Kauffman, a proponent of the complexity theory indicated that a system exists on the edge of stability and chaos ( Turner & Baker, 2019 ). A self-sustaining system can collapse if the different elements within it do not work in harmony. Therefore, an organization requires independent activities to hold together. Alshammri (2021), indicates that when people form informal groups within the organization, they are helping the organization find a stable path to success. For example, employees are more comfortable seeking help or professional support from colleagues whom they trust and can easily understand ( Lartey 2020 ). Also, because of the bureaucracies that are in many organizations in terms of getting information, social groups provide an easier way to get the necessary information which helps the employees to perform their daily tasks. In so doing, the organization achieves balance and hence stability preventing it from failure or collapse ( Turner & Baker, 2019 ).

A natural system is important for an organization in a social setup such as a school. I observed a friend’s place of work and how the natural model of organization can help an organization achieve its goals.


AlshammriSN. (2021). Do Informal Groups Threaten Organizations? Comparing group conflict management styles with supervisors. Independent Journal of Management and Production 12 (4). https://doi.org/10.14807/ijmp.v12i4.1342

Winiecki, D. (2019). Three types of systems are necessary for systems view. Tales from the Field Article.

Brinia V. Papadopoulou, G. & Psoni, P. (2020). The creation and the dynamics of informal groups: The case of the teacher association in a secondary vocational school. International Journal of Educational Management. 34(4).

Buta, S. (2020). Organizational Trust - Result of Formal and Informal Relationships Development in Business Organizations.  LUMEN Proceedings, 13, 226-236. https://doi.org/10.18662/lumproc/ncoe4.0.2019/20

Hunter S.D. Bentzen, H. & Taug, J. (2020). On the “missing link” between formal organization and informal social structure.  J Org Design 9 (13). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41469-020-00076-x

Lartey F. (2020). Chaos, Complexity, and Contingency Theories: A Comparative Analysis and Application to the 21st Century Organization. Journal of Business Research and Administration. 9(1). https://doi.org/10.5430/jbar.v9n1p44

Önday, Ö. (2016). The Relationship between Concepts of Rational, Natural and Open Systems: Managing Organizations Today . Semantic Scholar. 5 (4).

Reizer A. Brender-Ilan, Y. & Sheaffer, Z. (2019). Employee motivation, emotions, performance: a longitudinal diary study. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 34(6).

Turner, J. R. & Baker, R. M. (2019). Complexity Theory: An Overview with Potential Applications for the Social Sciences.  Systems ,  7 (1), 4. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/systems7010004

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