Informal linkages refer to unofficial relationships such as personal friendships, rivalries, and politics. In the long- running comedy series The Simpsons, Homer Simpson is a low-level—and very low-performing—employee at a nuclear power plant. In one episode, Homer gains power and influence with the plant’s owner, Montgomery Burns, which far exceeds Homer’s meager position in the organization chart, because Mr. Burns desperately wants to be a member of the bowling team that Homer captains. Homer tries to use his newfound influence for his own
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personal gain and naturally the organization as a whole suffers. Informal linkages such as this one do not appear in organizational charts, but they nevertheless can have (and often do have) a significant influence on how firms operate.
• The concept of division of labor (dividing organizational activities into smaller tasks) lies at the heart of the study of organizational structure. Understanding vertical, horizontal, and informal linkages helps managers to organize better the different individuals and job functions within a firm.
1. How is division of labor used when training college or university football teams? Do you think you could use a different division of labor and achieve more efficiency?
2. What are some formal and informal linkages that you have encountered at your college or university? What informal linkages have you observed in the workplace?
Mackey, John’s blog. 2010, March 9. Creating the high trust organization [Web blog post]. Retrieved from http://www2.wholefoodsmarket.com/blogs/jmackey/2010/03/09/creating-the-high-trust-organization/.