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Doing the Organizational Tango: Symbiotic Relationship between Formal and Informal Organizational Structures for an Agile Organization

Irena Malgorzata Ali
InSITE 2016 , 2016
[This paper is published in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge, and Management, Volume 11.]

This paper reports on research with a broad objective to examine the relationship between two organizational entities, the formally structured organization and informal organizational structures, in a changing operational environment, more specifically during military deployments. The paper draws on organizational and complexity paradigms; based on empirical evidence obtained through qualitative techniques, it describes mechanisms that enable a symbiotic relationship between these two organizational structures in a complex operational landscape. Substantive findings provide insights into the dynamics of the interactions between these structures and illuminate the relationship between three enabling factors – accountability, responsible autonomy, and command and control arrangements – that need to be considered to fully exploit the strengths inherent in both formal and informal structures. Based on these findings, a model for enhancement of organizational agility in response to changes in a complex operational environment is described. The model is predicated on feedback and mutual adjustment of the organization, institution and individual through sensemaking; it illustrates the dynamic nature of interactions that are required for such a response.
organizational studies, formal and informal organizational structures – symbiotic re-lationship, organizational adaptation, organizational agility, organizations and institutions, complexity, frameworks, case studies.

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