Hi, I'm Dan McFarland and this is your first screenside chat for the course Organizational Analysis. I think you'll notice about the screenside chats right away is that they will be somewhat unscripted in comparison to the lectures, and there's reason for that. I want you to have kind of a conversation with me. The actual lectures themselves, though, are scripted, and there's a reason for that as well, which is that a lot of people are non-native speakers and the transcripts on the lectures are very clean and easy to understand, whereas the transcripts for the screenside chats may be a little more crazy given that everyday speech is full of half sentences and starts and fits and strange clauses. So hopefully the combination of a scripted lecture and the screenside chats will be of value to you, and we'll keep trying to do them each week. As I mentioned, every week for the screenside chats I will be looking for the forums and threads that have the biggest kind of counts on upvotes. So please be sure to upvote anything that you think is a conducive conversation, or an interesting one, that you would like me to kind of focus on and think about. Before I begin, I just want to also thank, or direct your attention to, all the community TAs out there. We have some community TAs who are from the prior class, back a year ago, who did remarkably well and were highly engaged, and they've been willing to come onto the site and engage with you in conversations and to facilitate the course purely voluntarily. And I'm really grateful to them. I'm very impressed with them and they're wonderful people. So I hope if you have a chance here and there, make sure you kind of thank them. And maybe you too can become one in the future. I also want to thank all of you. The reason this course is kind of special for all Coursera courses is the fact that the forum is so vibrant. And also the degree to which the course actually is substantive in terms of requiring or asking a lot of you and getting quite a level of participation out of the students. The forums are tremendously interesting. I think a lot of you could spend days reading them. They're full of great reflections. Now I realize with long forums, some of the posts kind of can seem repetitive at times. But I also think that if you just spend a little time there, you really have this wonderful resource of all of these individuals with great expertise in fields that I don't. There's just no way any one of us could have that breadth, so I hope you take advantage of it, and it's also kind of neat. Where else would you find this kind of conversation about organizations or about management anywhere? And not only that, it's pretty clean and professional too, so I think that's really remarkable and extraordinary. So I really want to thank all of you for promoting that and being wonderful citizens and participating. So the first screenside question that I will address this week is one that was posed by a former student last year, that I put up there, that seemed to be one that the prior course was engaged with, which Choi Ka-ying related which he says, is it impossible to have multiple organizations within a giant organization? And he remarked on how organizations can be different in size and structure, but that it's possible, he wondered if it's possible, to have multiple organizations within a giant organization. And he brought up the problem of the fact that departments or subunits within in an organization can seem to start to have a resemblance to a distinct organization as well, and it wondered can we still call it an organization? How do we decide when the department is an organization or part of a single organization? So it's about boundaries, it's about when is a department acting on its own or in the interest of the larger firm. And so we have a variety of neat posts out there about this. And I think there were a few that we're very on the side of no, you can't have multiple organizations within an organization. So Kiran Densa argues, no, there must be goal alignment across units to be one organization. And he said an organization is one that achieves a communal goal to satisfy a market need. Every business unit within the organization will work towards achieving that common goal set by the greater organization. So the different businesses, units, departments, sectors are not operating independently of the business goal. Everything is in alignment with the organizational strategy. So that was one view, that if we were to define an organization to be a collection of smaller organizations, that would mean they have distinct goals, distinct cultures, beliefs, behaviors, etc. So I think the argument being made by Kiran is that to be a distinctive organization, it would have distinct coordination efforts, right? So I think that’s his point. Jim Dowd also kind of wonders, this doesn’t seem possible. He says organizations cannot be composed of other organizations given the definition that I provide in the lecture. He says every organization can be broken down into its respective functions. For any given function like engineering, human resources, sales, etc., you essentially have a different organizations. Each would have its own characteristics or culture, and each would have its common goals, some specific to the group and others specific to the overall organization. So we have this little bit of a slippage here, right, where the coordination is within a department or within the organization. We're starting to see this kind of conundrum about can you have multiple organizations in an organization? Quite a few of you, though, said yes, you can. And this is where Don, I'm so sorry, I'm going to butcher your names. Don MacEkern? [LAUGH] You would think a McFarland would know how to say a MacEkern, right? Anyhow, you could have multiple organizations in a larger organization, he says, like a conglomerate organization such as GE. And they have various businesses in different industry sectors that can and must operate as their own entity and can be sold, spun off as a complete organization. And he goes onto say that he sees departments as having separate identities but as operating ultimately as a whole. So there seems to be this shift that once you become an organization, you act independently of that whole. Rebecca Mains and Dale Halderson also bring this up. They have kind of a neat argument about differentiation within firms and how units can have distinct participants and goals but that their tasks and functions are interdependent with other units. But they have to coordinate across these roles and functions to make the firm work. Dale, and later Miguel Subosa also, they add to this, arguing that with size you have this greater variation or differentiation. And Dale argues that he kind of encourages people to look up to the next layer. So from one department up into the administration of all multiple departments, right? So he kind of says that organizations try to foster cascading goals so that the layers down create somewhat distinct goals but that they align again. So we have this notion of alignment. So from reading these, you start to get the sense that even the no camp and the yes camp kind of are in agreement if we just start to specify the notion of where coordination is occurring. We have differentiation and coordination and calling something a department versus a distinct organization suggests that the coordination between units no longer exists when it becomes and organization of its own. So Sienna Harton also kind of says this. Well, she says, why don't we consider a compromise? Good job, way to be a peacemaker here. Subunits are partial organizations, and this means they possess characteristics of an organization but are dependent on the mother organization. In addition, the individuals of the partial organization may consider themselves part of the mother organization. So that's helpful too. From my vantage point, there's this sociologist named Emil Durkheim who had a pretty good characterization of kinds of organization or kinds of societies. And with size he talked about how we shift from one type of society into another. And he used to talk about how in ancient societies the integration of them occurred because everybody did the same things, kind of like within a department or a group if people mirror or share the same kinds of goals, activities, etc., they tend to have this collaboration and coordination within it. But as societies grow, mind you, societies grow just like organizations grow perhaps too, they grow more specialized and differentiated. So large firms start to have functional differentiation of units, right? And because of that specialization, Durkheim asked, well, how does society stay together? And we can ask the same thing of organizations, right? What keeps them as an entity? And what he argues is that with that differentiation, there comes interdependence. He calls it organic solidarity, which some people call, like Ferdinand Tonnies called Gesellschaft. So this is the notion of an organizational society, in some regards, that the coordination across these units exists within a firm or within an organization, in spite of the differentiation. Once that coordination across units no longer occurs, or within them, we start to lose the definition of an organization and it becomes more of an independent entity. So I think it's a fruitful question to wonder what's a department versus an organization? I think we've gotten somewhere on that and can start to articulate that in useful ways.