The Galbraith star model was developed by American organizational theorist Jay R. Galbraith in 1982. The model provides a framework with which an organization can sustain its value propositions and business model over time.
Understanding the Galbraith star model
The Galbraith star model is a framework on which an organization can base its design choices.
To do this, the model guides design choices and policies that management can control to influence employee behavior.
Management can also use the model to identify and then overcome any negative aspects of the company’s structure.
Galbraith’s model consists of five interconnected categories which are diagrammatically arranged to form a star shape.
In the center of the star, the organization itself serves as a center of gravity that holds the five different elements together.
In the next section, we will describe each of these elements in detail.
The five categories of the Galbraith star model
The five categories of Galbraith’s model represent levers that can be pulled to institute organizational alignment.
Strategy defines how the organization intends to beat its competitors.
This winning formula consists of goals, objectives, core values, vision, and mission.
It also incorporates the products and services to be sold, the markets to be served, and the value to be offered to the customer.
Strategy is a long-term corporate plan for the next three to five years, but a vision that extends beyond five years is not unusual.
Structure defines how power and authority within the organization are distributed. The structural policy itself is governed by four key areas:
The number of employees in a department at each level relative to the number of superiors.
This is related to the span of control.
At the vertical level, this refers to centralized and decentralized decision-making.
At the horizontal level, power distribution refers to the ability of a department to deal with mission-critical issues.
The nature and extent of specialization to carry out the work, and
This clarifies how departments are formed for each structural level and is based on dimensions such as functions, geography, workflow processes, markets, customers, and products.
Where structure is the anatomy of an organization, it can be helpful to think of processes as its physiology or functioning.
Processes are based on decision-making and information sharing, with management processes having both a vertical and horizontal form.
Vertical processes relate to fund and talent allocation, budgeting, and planning, while horizontal processes deal with workflows such as order fulfillment or product development.
When used effectively, rewards systems align employee goals with organizational goals.
To provide employees with the motivation to complete strategic objectives, incentives such as bonuses, promotions, stock options, and salary increases are used.
Galbraith noted that employee rewards systems must be aligned with the structures and processes of the organization.
That is, they are only effective when consistently used in combination with the other categories.
This describes HR policies like recruitment, selection, rotation, development, training, and any other policy that provides talent for the organization to carry out its strategy and maintain its structure.
Similar to the employee rewards category, HR policies work best when there is harmony between them and the other design areas.
- The Galbraith star model is a framework on which an organization can base its design choices. It was developed by American organizational theorist Jay R. Galbraith in 1982.
- The Galbraith star model clarifies design choices and policies that management can leverage to influence employee behavior and correct negative aspects of the company’s organizational structure.
- The five categories of Galbraith’s model include strategy, structure, processes, rewards, and people. Each category must be aligned with the others for ideal organizational performance.
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