A formal organization is a planned structure which represents the officially established pattern of relationships among individuals, groups, sections, units, departments and divisions to accomplish the goals of the enterprise. A formal organization provides a broad framework and delineates certain prescribed functions and the relationships between them, a formal organization may be defined as a system of consciously coordinated activity of two or more persons towards a given objective. A formal organization may also be defined as:

  1. A pattern of formal relationships and duties, the organization charts, job description and position guides.
  2. Formal rules, policies, work procedures and similar devices adopted by management to guide employee behaviour in certain ways within the structure of formal relationships.

   As Louis A. Allen said, “The formal organization is a system of well-defined jobs, each bearing a definite measure of authority, responsibility and accountability, the whole consciously designed to enable people of the enterprise to work more effectively together in accomplishing their objectives”.  A formal organization facilitates the determination of objectives and policies. Communication, the delegation of authority, and coordination take place according to a prescribed pattern and in fact, formal structure restricts and circumstances the area of operation of individuals working within an organization.


The main characteristics of a formal organization are:

  1. It is based on the division of Labour.
  2. This organization is formed by voluntary thinking.
  3. It is represented by organizational charts and manuals.
  4. In this organization, the rights, duties and liabilities of different persons are clarified on different levels of management.
  5. In a formal organization, unity of command is followed.
  6. It is prepared only for the accomplishment of od predetermined goals.
  7. Here the relationships among members are fully impersonal.
  8. Here delegation of authority flows from top to bottom.


The main advantages of Formal Organization include:

  1. The best use of resources.
  2. Feeling of cooperation in a formal organization.
  3. No duplication of work.
  4. End of biased opinions from everyone related to any work.
  5. Proper standardisation of work becomes easy to implement.
  6. Helpful in achieving objectives.
  7. Well defined authority and responsibility and accountability avoid any chance of friction and enmity.
  8. Merits of specialisation can be achieved due to the principle of division of labour.
  9. The efficiency of employees can easily be measured due to the predetermination of the rights and duties of each individual.
  10. This type of organization restricts conflicts among executives.


The main limitations of Formal organization include:

  1. Rules are considered more important than the person.
  2. This organization ends the spirit of initiative.
  3. Excessive and undue use of authority takes place in this type of organization.
  4. In this type of organization procedures, programmes, rules etc., are followed strictly and that is why frequent changes are not possible.
  5. A formal organization is impersonal; that is why human feelings have no place here.
  6. There is a lack of coordination among the activities of different persons in different departments.
  7. No consideration is given to the social and human elements.
  8. This organization takes into consideration only the formal communication and creates obstacles in the application of informal communication.