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Species of Organizations

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Species of Organizations

Henry Mintzberg,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Before you make your next business decision, know what kind of organization is involved.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


While it is possible to classify animals by their species, the vocabulary available to describe companies, on the other hand, is more “primitive.” Renowned management and strategy expert Henry Mintzberg makes a compelling argument for the use of a new classification structure when describing businesses. He introduces four “species of organizations” and describes their defining traits. getAbstract recommends this article to students, managers, consultants and entrepreneurs looking for a new way to frame the discussion around organizational structure.


Currently, if you want to talk about a type of organization, you have to discuss its industry – automotive, pharmaceutical, customer service, and so on. Yet this style of description is misleading; it lacks nuance. The result is that professionals apply similar sets of standards and strategies to very different styles of companies. The following framework defines four “species of organizations”:

  1. The “machine organization” focuses on maximum efficiency. Employees stick to a specific set of processes; deviation isn’t encouraged. Training is easy, but turnover is high. The...

About the Author

Henry Mintzberg is a professor of management studies at McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of Managers Not MBAs, Tracking Strategies, Simply Managing and Rebalancing Society.

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