Etzioni Organizational Theory

  • Post last modified:2 August 2023
  • Reading time:7 mins read
  • Post category:Management
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Etzioni’s Organizational Structure

Etzioni, an Israeli-American sociologist, developed an advanced approach to the structure of organizations that he called compliance theory. As per this theory, organizations can be classified based on the degree of power exercised by organizational leaders to direct employees.

Etzioni identified three types of power namely coercive power, utilitarian power, and normative power, and related these three power with three types of involvement which are alienating calcumulative, and moral. Involvement refers to the attitudes, ranks, and roles of an organization’s employees.

Coercive powerUtilitarian powerNormative power
Types of InvolvementAlternativeCombination ACombination B
MoralCombination C
Etzioni Organisational Theory

Types of Powers

Let us first discuss these three types of powers:

Coercive power

It involves the application of force and fear for controlling the actions of lower-level participants. Such type of power is exercised at organizations such as prisons, mental asylums, military training facilities, etc.

Utilitarian power

This power uses monetary or extrinsic rewards to control the actions of lower-level participants. Examples of rewards are salary, merit pay, good working conditions, fringe benefits, job security, etc. Various government agencies and trade unions use this type of power.

Normative power

This type of power uses intrinsic rewards to influence the behavior of individuals. Intrinsic rewards include interesting work, identification of goals, and contribution to society. This type of power is used in organizations such as churches, political organizations, professional associations, and universities.

Types of Involvement

All three types of powers can help in achieving the cooperation of participants. However, the effectiveness of such powers depends on the involvement of participants. As per Lunenburg and Ornstein (2012), the relative effectiveness of each power approach depends on the involvement of the organization’s participants. Let us discuss three types of involvement as follows:

Alternative involvement

This involvement assigns a negative orientation. The main goal is to adhere to the organization’s values. For example, prisoners in jails, patients in mental asylums, and personnel in military training facilities are inclined to be alienated from their respective organizations.

Calculative involvement

This involvement designates a positive or negative orientation of low intensity. Employees usually maximize personal gain when an organization employs calculative power.

Moral involvement

It is a positive orientation of high intensity. The employees are committed to society when an organization employs moral power; for example, members of a political party.

Relationship Between Power and Involvement

As per Etzioni, when an organization exercises coercive power, participants often react in a hostile manner, which is alienating involvement. On the other hand, utilitarian power results in calculative involvement wherein participants are more interested in maximizing personal gain. Finally, normative power leads to moral involvement as participants are committed to the socially beneficial features of their organizations.

Article Source
  • Baligh, H. (2014). Organization Structure & Design (1st ed.). Springer.

  • Hannagan, T., & Bennett, R. (1995). Management (1st ed.). London: Pitman.

  • McFarland, D. (1974). Management: principles and practices (1st ed.). New York: Macmillan.

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