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Concept: Formal/Informal Structure

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: December 29, 1999
E-Mail Curran or Takata.

Black Letter Definition of formal/Informal Structure

Black Letter Law Concept: Formal/Informal Structure

The formal structure is the one that can be found in organization charts. Usually hierarchical, the formal structure follows job titles and job descriptions. Often those coincide with who actually does the job. But in most organizations, there is an informal structure in which individauls recognize who actually gets which tasks done. For example, if you need a specific file, you may know who, in a given office, to go to who can lay his/her hands on the fie instantly. That may not be the person whose job descriptions gives authority over the file. In this sense, the higher the authority of the official, the more likely there are to be people in the informal structure who actually get the work done. For efficient operation with an organization you need to know the informal structure. Organization charts rarely suffice.

Reference: Elementary concept in sociology. Should be found in any introductory text.