Organizations are entities with internal boundaries that separate management from employees or departments between each other and external boundaries that define their geographic reach and separate a company from its customers and suppliers.
However, other organizations that thrive within shifting markets, rapidly changing technologies, and a new environment of global competition is boundaryless.
I’ll help you understand a boundaryless organization’s structure, characteristics, and more in this article.
What is a boundaryless organization?
As the name suggests, a boundaryless organization is an organization without boundaries in regard to geography, hierarchy, work functions, and more. While traditional organizations embrace internal hierarchies and external boundaries, boundaryless organizations reject those barriers. It breaks down the hierarchies, locational constraints, and traditions of more traditional company structures.
This term was coined by Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric and an influential management thinker. He advocated for companies that knock down the walls that separate employees from each other and the company from constituencies on the outside.
What are the main characteristics of a boundaryless organization?
- Technology is a key driver of a boundaryless organization. The organization uses advanced technology to smoothen functions such as communication. For instance, employers and employers communicate using email, texts, chats, social media, and other communication channels that the internet supports.
- Boundaryless organizations embrace remote working. They allow employees to work from the comfort of their own house rather than from office settings. They use unified cloud-based communications, which offer a streamlined communications suite for video conferencing. By working from anywhere, they eliminate geographical barriers associated with traditional organizations.
- There is flexibility in terms of working hours. Employees of such organizations can choose when to work and the number of hours to work. This model of working creates a work-life balance, a lifestyle that every human being wants.
- All employees have some authority over the running of a boundaryless organization. They have the freedom to choose their leaders and formulate laws and regulations that govern the organization, among other decisions. For accountability, employees are held responsible for any work they do and the decisions they make.
- Leadership and supervision are limited in a boundaryless organization. No supervisors or senior management staff interfere with their work or assign them work. Employees are their own bosses.
- Employees of these organizations act as coordinators and managers of their tasks.
- Employees of a boundaryless organization adopt modern methods such as JIT (just-in-time).
Which Organization is a boundaryless organization?
Here are examples of boundaryless organizations:
1. Virtual organizations
Virtual organizations are also referred to as dynamic organizations. This is a boundaryless organization with a group of independent companies that share running costs, networks, and expertise.
Every independent company within this boundaryless organization contributes its expertise, energy, and experience to the betterment of the organization. Some of the advantages of this organization are its adaptability and flexibility.
2. Network organizations
Network organizations are flexible organizations that adapt quickly to the changes in their environment. Unlike traditional organizations with fixed ties dictated by charts, network organizations emphasize who can perform certain tasks economically and effectively.
Managers, market mechanisms, and formal lines of authority coordinate various functions within network organizations. All assets required to produce services or products are sourced from within the organization rather than held in-house by one firm.
3. Modular organizations
Modular organizations primarily focus on their core services. Such organizations outsource all non-core services to another organization specializing in those activities. Modular organizations usually outsource some services, including sales, production, accounting, and data processing.
One of the advantages of such organizations is that they can save production and operation costs and develops new products or services more quickly. They can also use all the resources effectively and concentrate on achieving key objectives and goals without any distractions.
4. Learning organizations
Learning organizations do not follow a particular pattern regarding operation or management. They can easily adapt to changes because the organizations’ authority, employers, and stakeholders come together to identify and mitigate work-related problems.
Besides, employees of learning organizations participate actively in decision-making. They also share any knowledge or information they acquire and are willing to apply it in performing work or making decisions.
5. Virtual organizations
Virtual organizations, also known as dynamic organizations, are the most interesting type of boundaryless organization. The organizations comprise an alliance of independent companies that share costs, skills, and markets. Each of these independent companies continues to evolve and contributes only in its area of core competencies. Adaptability and flexibility are key advantages of virtual organizations.
The structure of a boundaryless organization
When you analyze a traditional organization, you will find it has clear hierarchies and borders on its horizontal and vertical planes. They have a very mechanistic business structure. That’s not the case with a boundaryless organization. Boundaryless organizations do not have any major structures. They eliminate any boundaries that exist in traditional companies. Those boundaries include external, vertical, and horizontal boundaries proposed by other structures. Simply put, they are organizations that aren’t confined to the oppressive walls of their office.
Another distinction of the boundaryless organization is the way they approach their business. They allow ideas, knowledge, and other information to flow freely to all members without following hierarchies. Ideas from different members of such organizations drive growth, innovation, and efficiency. Organizations are built to survive in an environment that is constantly changing.
When it comes to the employees, such organizations have employees with their own tasks to accomplish and targets to meet. They are committed to their work and responsible for any project they do. Such companies ensure employees’ freedom is respected. Employees who thrive in those organizations are highly critical thinkers, educated, knowledgeable and self-motivated when performing their duties.