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A QUANTITATIVE SYSTEM FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF INITIAL ORGANIZATIONAL NEEDS IN TRANSDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the College of Natural Science Michigan State University

In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Science

by

David Gordon Gossman

June 1979

CHAPTER V

DIFFERENTIATION OF THE INITIAL ORGANIZATIONAL NEEDS

In any system oriented analysis of a problem, the first step is to break the problem (or system) down into a number of inter-related subsystems. The quantitative system for the assessment of initial organizational needs will be broken down into the following subsystems:

1. Information and specialty needs

2. Specialty philosophical differences.

3. Specialty vocabulary differences.

4. Organizational complexity.

Each of these quantative subsystems will be described in detail in the following chapters. As this is done, the interrelationships among the disciplines will become clearer. In the conclusion an attempt will be made to show those interrelationships and the overall system in a flowchart-like manner. The following are brief non-quantitative descriptions of each of the subsystems.

Information and specialty needs. The information and specialty needs subsystem involves an assessment of the particular problem itself. This assessment should first indicate what difference types of specialists will be needed to solve the problem. Secondly, the assessment mush indicate which specialists will need information from which other specialists. The combination of these two groups of information will result in a graph or matrix, depending on what is needed, which will provide the foundation for an eventual organizational chart.

Specialty philosophical differences. The philosophical difference between one specialist and another is based on the idea that the methods and goals in one specialist's field of study is not necessarily equivalent to that of another's. This difference greatly affects the ability of two specialists to work and communicate with one another. The degree to which these differences exist must then be applied as a directly modifying factor in the design of the organizational chart. This factor must also be taken into account when measuring the organizational complexity.

Specialty vocabulary differences. The idea that one specialty's vocabulary is different from another is similar to and perhaps easier to understand the idea of philosophical differences. Specialty vocabulary differences also have similar, although less marked, effects on the organization chart when compared to philosophical differences. It is much easier to learn a new vocabulary than to learn an entirely new way of looking at things.

Organizational complexity. There is but one last, yet crucial, subsystem needed to complete the assessment system - organizational complexity. This factor is largely ignored by R&D organizations regardless of the fact that this poor planning can be devastating. Many organizational problems such as communication bottlenecking, individual communications overload and underload, and authority/responsibility distribution problems are a result of inadequate or nonexistent assessments of organizational complexity.

Continue to Chapter VI