Factors affecting organisational structure
A Forestry Commission case study

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Page 5: Factors affecting structure

Organisations like the Forestry Commission need to identify the best structures to enable them to meet their objectives. They must also be able to respond quickly to both internal and external factors affecting their work.

Much of the work of the Forestry Commission involves project work. Examples of projects include:

  • educational projects to inform children about the importance of forests
  • climate change projects to identify current knowledge, provide ideas for reducing and adapting to climate change and identifying information gaps.

The best way of managing project work is through a matrix structure. This brings together employees from a range of different backgrounds and experience. The team members use their individual talents and skills to complete the project.

For example, James' work includes looking at the financial implications of planting trees and how the jobs created by the Forestry Commission affect the country's economy and people. Richard is able to develop new ideas to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy use. As part of Vicky's role, she makes the complex science of climate change more understandable for everyone within the Commission, in the wider forestry sector and for the public.

Employees like James, Sarah, Vicky and Richard may work on several different projects at the same time. For example:

  • James and Vicky may be part of a project sharing ideas about climate change
  • At the same time Vicky may be working with Sarah in planning the annual 'Festival of the Tree'
  • Richard may use information from James and Vicky in planning business sustainability strategies.

This type of project-based structure helps the Forestry Commission to address different issues efficiently. This contrasts with other organisations where an employee may have set tasks to do in an organised hierarchy or where there is functional specialism.

In this type of organisation, work is more routine with less opportunity for individuals to express themselves and their ideas. Working for the Forestry Commission enables employees to engage in work of national importance.

James, Programme Group Manager in the Forest Research Agency says: 'I love the fact that my job makes a difference. Responsible management of woodlands is vital and the decisions we take today affect future generations.'

Forestry Commission | Factors affecting organisational structure