Rebuilding an organization to rebuild Haiti

People desire to fix the broken, but what happens when it’s an accumulation of many broken things.  In Haiti the destruction from the earthquake is shocking, but the people have already begun to ban together and plan to rebuild. We are not just talking about rebuilding the buildings as they once were, but reinventing Haiti’s identity through the transformation of a tragedy to an opportunity.  Haiti called on architects, engineers, and urban planners via email to meet up to start the process.  This group of 50 people was formed as they took time out of looking for the missing and shared their ideas of how to rebuild Haiti.  If you were to glance in the direction of these people it would not be what we consider an organization, but rather groups of people chatting.  However, closer examination of these people, what they are doing, and the knowledge of what makes up an organization will lead you to conclude that this is in fact the beginning of what could be a very important organization for Haiti.

The first definition of an organization that we have looked at in the book Organizations and Organizing is a rational system perspective.  This states that organizations are collectivities oriented to the pursuit of relatively specific goals and exhibiting relatively highly formalized social structures (Scott and Davis, page 29).  This group of Haitian professionals has already established relatively specific goals.  They know that they want to improve Haiti as they rebuild it and focus on urban planning that will improve their economy. While their meeting place is the courtyard of a physical therapy center, a structure has already been formed.  The group has been subdivided into committees and been formed out of the existence of a committee that had weekly meetings consisting of 9 board members.

The board decided to forgo its tradition meeting structure to get more input.  As the meetings progressed and opinions were put forth we are able to get a glance into a natural system definition.  This definition states organizations are collectivities whose participants are pursuing multiple interests, both disparate and common, but who recognize the value of perpetuating the organization as an important resource (Scott and Davis, 30).  The board realized that an organization consists of much more than its formal structure.  People have their own goals in addition to those of the organization itself.  Also, we see where formal position does not determine power when Daniele challenged Voltaire and his “Building Codes.”  The architects, engineers, and urban planners all have specific ideas of what should be done to improve Haiti, whether it be the materials they build with, the locations of buildings, or even the type of business that is developed.  However, these personal agendas do not stop the group from realizing how its various ideas all intertwine together to form bigger plans.  They have already been effective in coming up with proposals that have already been submitted to the government.

Finally, we can look at this group of people through an open system approach.  Open systems also take into account the environment and note that no organization actually acts as a closed system.  This is very true for this group of Haitians because while they are an organization that is building a better Haiti, they rely heavily on government approval and the financial support of outsiders.  This organization will not get anywhere without outsiders helping them. The environment that surrounds them is what brought this group of professionals together in the first place.  Prior to the destruction from the earthquake they were not all meeting together, and collaborative plans were not being made for a better Haiti.  The original board would probably not have consulted all of these engineers, architects and urban planners.

Without an understanding of the different ways to define organizations this group of people may not have been consider anything more.  We are able to get a better understanding of where this organization is headed as well as how it cam about because of an understanding of the three paradigms.

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