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Organisation – definition and features

What is an organisation?

An organisation is a group of people working together in a systematic way to achieve a set of objectives. According to Needham (1995) an organisation is a system, having an established structure and conscious planning, in which people work and deal with one another in a coordinated and cooperative manner for the accomplishment of recognised goals. According to Buchanan and Huczynski (1985) organisations are social arrangements for the controlled performance of collective goals.

Organisational features

While many writers have attempted to define the term ‘organisation’ and come up a wide variety of ideas, there are some features that are common to most of the organisations.  These features are as follows:

A unique name

Name matters a lot virtually in all aspects of life. According to Needham (1995), a unique name is an important feature of an organisation.  McDonald’s, Subway, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Apple, Samsung, Aldi, Lidl etc are some unique names in the world of business. With a unique name, an organisation distinguishes itself from its competitors and others.

People and interactions

Organisations always include people. These people are engaged in some kind of interactions with one another. The interactions can be facilitated with organisational structures. Organisations cannot exist without people and interactions among them.


All organisations have some kind of objectives. For example, objectives of a company may include but not limited to increasing market share, making profit, entering into foreign markets etc. Objectives provide an organisation with direction of movement and can be used to monitor and evaluate how successful the organisation is.


Organisations need some kind of structures in order to coordinate activities to achieve their aims and objectives. Organisational structures are of many types e.g. functional structure, divisional structure, centralised structure, decentralised structure etc. Structures are not permanent in nature and organisations may sometimes change their structure in line with the business needs.


Members of an organisation have varying levels of power vested in them. These powers may be set out in a written contract (Needham, 1995). For instance, in the HRM department of a company, the manager may identify the training needs of employees and the trainer may select and deliver the training programmes.

To sum-up, an organisation is certainly a group of people with a common purpose. Organisations have their sense of purpose usually expressed in the mission statement. Members of organisations work towards achieving the organisational goals, and may sometimes have their own personal goals. Certainly, organisations have been around for thousands of years and have immensely contributed to human development.

The article publication date: 07 June 2017

Further reading/References

Needham (1995) Business for Higher Awards, 1st edition, UK: Heinemann Educational

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Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.

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