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Mintzberg's Organizational Forms


Disciplines > Change Management > Organization Design > Mintzberg's Organizational Forms

Entrepreneurial | Machine | Professional | Adhocracy | Diversified | Ideological | Political | See also



These are different forms of organisation that you can change to and here are structures as defined by Henry Minzberg. These are useful when thinking about the types of organization you are or want to create. In practice this can be something of a blend as aspect of each form may be found in many companies, although one form usually dominates.


The entrepreneurial company has informal, non-standardized structure  and rules. There is usually a single point of authority who is the company founder or managing director and who shapes the way forward.

The entrepreneur is opportunistic and agile and initiatives may be started and stopped as the environment changes. Entrepreneurs typically have boundless energy and enthuse their people by example. 


New companies, one-person companies, family companies.


Machine companies are very unlike entrepreneurial firms. They are highly formalized and standardized, with strict hierarchical control.

The basic principle of the machine is efficiency, and waste is driven out ruthlessly. Whilst machines can go out of date and find it difficult to change, it can also be possible to build an efficient change engine that uses a proven improvement formula.


Car companies (competition is high, profit margins are low)


Professional organizations are typically staffed by well educated and qualified individuals who deliver highly specialized and valuable services and charge accordingly. This high complexity of task leads to relatively low centralisation.

A key principle of professional organizations is the autonomy of its agents who are assumed to be sufficiently expert to make serious choices in the actions they undertake.


Lawyers, consultants


An adhocracy is characterized by relatively low standardization and formality with little hierarchy, many equivalent teams who interact with one another towards a common goal.

The adhocracy is neither lazy nor anarchic. Its form is often driven by the need for speed and its operation is based on trust in others to be able to do their jobs well.




In a diversified organization there are multiple groups who often work relatively independently or in clusters on specific projects that deliver defined outputs and outcomes.

With mixed products, the diversified firm is often organized in a matrix or divisional way, with suitable coordination and communication to ensure that the parts achieve their goals without upsetting corporate strategy.


Global conglomerates


Based on a specific ideology, such as ‘equality’, organizations that work along these lines gather people with similar beliefs or who have a need for belief and then seek to propagate the beliefs further.

Whilst beliefs are about assumed truth, ideologies typically also include values, which are rules about what is good and bad, how to behave, and what is more or less important. Whilst it is not always clear what a person believes, it is certainly visible how they live and in consequence the values they are embodying.


Eg. Communes, Religious organisations


People are naturally competitive and often need a focus that often includes a fight of some sort. In a political system there is typically little or no external competition, so people turn inwards to compete.

Power and influence are highly valued and are significant status indicators as well as 'how things get done'. Who you know can be even more important than what you know, and alliances and cabals abound and internal wars can even break out.


Eg. Regulatory agencies, Monopolies

See also

Beliefs, Schools of thought, Politics


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