The Future of Organization Design: An Interpretative Synthesis in Three Themes


  • Richard M. Burton Duke University



Organization design, new organizational forms


In the inaugural issue of the Journal of Organization Design (Vol. 1, #1, 2012), noted scholars and experienced practitioners presented their views on the future of organization design. The seven wise and provocative statements were subsequently discussed by members of the Organizational Design Community at a conference held at Harvard University on August 3, 2012. I was asked by JOD to monitor the discussion and identify the broad organization design themes that emerged. Although the discussion was wide ranging, three themes were noticeable. The first theme is that there are fundamentals of organization design, and all agreed that design involves creating a cohesive socio-technical system from a number of constituent elements. The second theme is that the boundaries of many newer organizational forms extend beyond that of the single firm, so the scope of organization design needs to expand to include ecosystems, collaborative communities, industries, and other supra-firm architectures. The third theme involves time and change, requiring a shift in focus from how organizations become stable and predictable to how they can become more agile.

Author Biography

Richard M. Burton, Duke University

<p>Richard M. Burton is Professor of Organization and Strategy at The Fuqua School of Business, Duke University.  Rich is also Professor of Management at the EIASM (European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management) in Brussels, and Honorary Professor at the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Aarhus.  He is Director of the Hartman Fund at Fuqua.  He has DBA from the University of Illinois, as well as BS and MBA.</p><p> </p><p>In addition to being a member of the JOD editorial board, Rich is a Senior Editor for Organization Science, a member of the Editorial Board for the <em>Strategic Management Journal</em>, Co Editor of a research series on Information and Organization.  Previously, he was Department Editor for Strategy, Organizational Design and Performance for Management Science.  Recently, Professor Burton was a member of the National Research Council committee on Behavioral Modeling and Simulation: From Individuals to Societies.</p><p>His research focuses on organizational design and particularly its relationship to strategy for the firm.  With Professor Obel, he has authored numerous articles, and books. Their Strategic Organizational Diagnosis and Design: The Dynamics of Fit is in its third edition. With the associated software, OrgCon, the book provides an integrated theoretical and practical approach to organizational design for strategy implementation.  His most recent book is Organizational Design: A Step-by-Step Approach, 2006, with Professors DeSanctis and Obel.  He has published seven books and some seventy articles on strategy, organization and management science in <em>Organization Science, Management Science, Administrative Science Quarterly,</em> among others.</p><p>Rich teaches Organization Theory and Computational Modeling for Organization Science in the PhD program. Recently, he taught the MBA GATE course for China.</p><p>2011</p>




How to Cite

Burton, R. M. (2013). The Future of Organization Design: An Interpretative Synthesis in Three Themes. Journal of Organization Design, 2(1), 42–44.



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