The Structural Frame

A frame is a coherent set of ideas or beliefs forming a prism or lens that enables you to see and understand more clearly what’s going on in the world around you. In Part II, we embark on the first stage of a tour that will take us to four very different ways of making sense of life at work or elsewhere. Each frame will be presented in three chapters: one that introduces the basic concepts and two that focus on key applications and extensions. We begin with one of the oldest and most popular ways of thinking about organizations: the structural frame.

If someone asked you to describe your organization—your workplace, your school, or even your family—what image would come to mind? A likely possibility is a traditional organization chart: a series of boxes and lines depicting job responsibilities and levels. The chart might be shaped roughly like a pyramid, with a small number of bosses at the top and a much larger number of employees at the bottom. Such a chart is only one of many images that reflect the structural view. The frame is rooted in traditional rational images but goes much deeper to develop versatile and powerful ways to understand social architecture and its consequences.

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