We explain what a formal organization is and its main characteristics. Also, its types, what is the informal organization and more.

What is a formal organization?

The formal organization is a type of structure based on certain practices and rules that define its operation and performance, based on defined objectives . For example: companies , corporations, associations, government entities and institutions.

An organization of this type works through the collective work of its members and is made up of areas that fulfill different coordinated responsibilities and are oriented towards a shared objective, which is what identifies the organization as such and allows it to endure over time.

The objective of the formal organization is what motivates its activity and can be: for profit, that is, a company that exists to multiply the capital invested by the partners or non-profit , that is, an association that exists to provide help or improvement to the company without pursuing the enrichment of its founding partners.

Characteristics of a formal organization

Among the main characteristics of a formal organization are:

  • The division of labor in an orderly and organized manner through an organization chart.
  • The figure of an executive position as a strategic factor that coordinates all areas or departments.
  • A shared common objective , which guides the entire organization.
  • The planning and organization of daily tasks , aimed at meeting the objective of the organization.
  • The use of various formal communication channels , such as email , billboards or internal messaging, to keep each member of the area informed.
  • The schedule of the working day , which is stipulated by a certain number of daily hours.

Types of formal organizations

Types of formal organizations

The main types of formal organization are:

  • Vertical or linear organization.It is characterized by the distribution of personnel according to their well-defined hierarchical rank. Decisions are made in a descending manner, that is, a superior decides and the rest of the members execute the decision. The communication channels in this type of organization are formal and can be: a notification, a billboard, an email that only provides a printed notification or report that, in many cases, does not allow employees to return by the same means, but they must make a formal note or request a meeting with a superior to express their opinion. The objective of a formal organization vertical is to maintain a certain distance in terms of the personal life of its employees and only relate to the tasks and responsibilities to be fulfilled for the organization.
  • Horizontal or flat organization. It is characterized by the distribution of personnel without so many levels of hierarchy, but rather work more as pairs, as a team, each one with their well-defined responsibilities. Management is the decision maker, but interacts with employees to take their views into account when making decisions.The communication channels used between the different areas or management are more flexible and innovative, such as emails, internal chats for companies, applications and team communication platforms that allow organizing tasks and maintaining fluid communication between the different departments of the company organization. The objective of a horizontal formal organization is to maintain decision-making by an authority or management and, at the same time, take into account the consensus of the majority of its members, whom it recognizes as people who can contribute something more to the organization. job than just fulfilling their responsibilities. The human quality of the employee provides an additional value that is valued and recognized by the organization.

informal organization

informal organization

In addition to the formal structure, there are informal organizations, which are those that do not perform based on a defined and established model, such as standards , planning or division of tasks . They are more flexible and, at the same time, more limited in terms of their level of performance, by not making the most of their resources and time.

Informal organizations do not have guidelines that last over time, but their work methodology tends to change over time , depending on the members that make it up, their affinity, tastes or according to the decisions that can be taken in an improvised way. The schedule of the working day is not limited by the number of stipulated daily hours, but is defined based on the amount of work.

Over time, an informal organization may adopt some more formal procedures that allow it to endure over time in a balanced and secure way. Being informal does not mean that it cannot grow, only that it is more complex to optimize efforts if certain formal procedures are not adopted, even if the organizational culture is informal.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


Luke is passionate about fostering student involvement and connection. He studied psychology for his major and likes learning about the past. Luke aims to specialize in artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. .

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