What does it mean by a traditional organization?

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What does it mean by a traditional organization?
The military is a great example of a hierarchy, one characteristic of a traditional organisation. (formación militar image by Marco Antonio Fdez. from Fotolia.com)

With the explosion of the Internet, organisations have evolved. Whereas almost all organisations followed the same structure for centuries, many different types of organisations now exist. The old structure, now called "traditional," still exists. Three major characteristics make up a traditional organisation.

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Traditional organisations are based upon a hierarchy. In business, the chief executive officer (CEO) or president is at the top with other senior executives underneath, then managers and workers. This is simplified, but the idea is that there are fewer positions at the top than the bottom. Communication runs up and down the hierarchy ladder. You talk to your manager, who talks to their manager, who talks to their manager, until, if needed, it reaches the CEO or president. Information travels down the ladder in reverse fashion.


The bottom line to a traditional organisation's definition is its goal. In a traditional organisation, profit is the bottom line. In non-traditional organisations, the bottom line might be helping people, such as in non-profit organisations.


Traditional organisations usually employ specialisation, such as departments. This specialisation is what makes the organisation a hierarchy. For example, a group of people work together under one manager to accomplish a goal. That manager is grouped with the managers of other departments under another manager. In non-traditional organisations, departments may not exist. Instead, workers help out where needed and manage themselves as necessary.

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