Emil Păun and Anca Nedelcu

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Part I: ORGANIZATIONS

I. 1. Conceptual Remarks

In contemporary society, human activity is subject to a structuring and organization process, both on individual and on social level. The need for activity organization is generated by the need to obtain better results and efficiency, being determined by the isolated individualís awareness of his limitations on bio-physical and psycho-social level. The subjective needs of individuals (sociability, need for affiliation) also led to the organization development. Thus, we can say that modern human beings feel the need to participate in organizations.

The research carried out in this respect reveal important individual and social gains, namely:

  • Development and improvement of individual skills by cooperation in an organized structure that places the individual where his skills become more valuable.

  • Rational use and considerable reduction of the time put in for various activities.

  • Taking over, transmission and systematic use of previous generations’ assets.

It is clear that organized activity is characterized by clear-cut goals, by an exact definition of statuses and roles, according to objectives, tasks and skills, by an accurate activity description (labor division). In addition, communication networks and hierarchical structures gradually generated the development of organizational structures.

A thorough examination of the environment we live in reveals the fact that most our activities take place in highly structured frameworks, although we are not always aware of it. Family life is also influenced by social organizations, though not directly. Thus, numerous researchers consider modern human being an organizational person, given his participation in various types of organizations Ė professional, economic, cultural, political associations.

In this respect it is obvious that, organizations need people to exist. Where there are human beings, there are organizations, too. But they represent more than a group of individuals. They also have a trans-individual dimension.

In fact, what is an organization? Generally, an organization is defined as a system of activities structured in accordance with certain distinct ends (goals), involving a large number of persons with specific roles and statuses within a differentiated structure, in charge with activity coordination. This definition gives us the organizationís features:†

        Well-defined goals that motivate individuals participating in the respective activities. Any organization represents a relatively stable combination of human and material resources needed to fulfill certain goals. Organizational goals are trans-individual, expressing the organization as a whole, its general orientation and policy. Nevertheless, they should not ignore or overlook the goals and aspirations of individuals in the organization, but integrate them in the organization’s goals.

Organization’s goals not only set the course of activities, but also:

  • influence the perception and assessment of stages, coordinating the legal field,

  • provide action and decision criteria for its members,

  • coordinate and set organizationís rules and plans,

  • facilitate control, motivate its members in achieving their goals,

  • demonstrate the power of coordination and leadership,

  • create and maintain the identity and the common spirit.

Organizational goals started to play an important role in adult learning only in the past 10-15 years. The reason was an increasing competition in the financing of learning activities for adults. Any institution providing educational programs for adults, dependent on external financial support, must set and adjust its institutional goals to the market segment it focuses on. Here, institutional goals interfere with the teaching ones. In our opinion, the institutional goals should prevail. The market economy type of thinking regarding adult education can bring about negative effects that partially prevent learning institutions from carrying out their basic teaching role. Given the ever-growing dynamics of education in our society, we must carefully and rigorously set goals, as well as constantly assess and review them. This process is represented in figure 1 (Nuissl, 2002, p. 23):

Fig. 1

  • A large number of individuals interacting in performing activities. The power and the quality of an organization do not rely mainly upon the number of its members, but on the individuals’ skills and the degree of convergence between their goals and the organizational ones. It is also closely related to the individuals common actions. From this perspective, the quality of the interactions between its members becomes the essential condition for organizational success.

  • Activities that are functionally differentiated (division of labor), as well as socially regulated (determined social structure) allow individuals to hold different positions within a coherent system of roles and statuses. An internal structure based on a functional hierarchy and on a communication network is an essential indicator for the organization’s optimal functioning.

  • Own ways of organizing and managing activities. The management is a variable that significantly influences the organization efficiency and development, representing an integrative dimension that brings together in a structure the organization components.

 

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© Universitatea din Bucureşti 2003. All rigths reserved. No part of the text may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the University of Bucharest, except for short quotations with the indication of the website adress and the web page. This book was first published by Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti ISBN: 973-575-815-6
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