Organizational Frames

Organizations are tools or instruments to meet goals and objectives, and to carry out tasks (Johnson, 2003). As such, structures in achieving calculable rational results as well as precision, stability, discipline, and reliability are in order (Max Weber, cited in Johnson, 2003). Frames or windows, for instance, filter and order the world, providing a structure from which to view things.
In my role as an Organizational Analyst for the City of San Jose, I had recommended the merger of two small community centers that were less than two miles apart and were providing a similar range of programs and services. The recommendation was carried out and was considered in the City’s proposed operating budget. The concept, however, was poorly handled by the Parks and Recreation Department where the Department’s managers had decided not to release information about the potential merger to center staff or to the community prior to publication of the proposed operating budget. The Alma community therefore was shocked to find that their Center was slated for closure and the Alma employees were upset to learn that their jobs would be impacted. Recovering from the initial shock, participants from the Alma Center protested the closure and eventually convinced the City Council to drop the proposal.
In the 1980s, Bolman and Deal (1991) developed one of the most useful organizational typologies for viewing and studying leadership. Synthesizing existing theories of leadership and organizations into four traditions, they came up with a taxonomy labeled as “frames.”