Different Types of Organizations: Blau-Scott & Etzioni Typologies

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  • 0:03 Classification of…
  • 0:39 Blau-Scott
  • 1:59 Etzioni
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Martin Gibbs

Martin has 16 years experience in Human Resources Information Systems and has a PhD in Information Technology Management. He is an adjunct professor of computer science and computer programming.

It could be said that there are as many classifications of organizations as there are actual organizations. In this lesson, we'll describe organizational classifications based on two typologies: Blau-Scott and Etzioni.

Classification of Organizations

When you start studying organizational theory, you can quickly get into the weeds. There are numerous theories, structures, and classifications, not to mention a wealth of literature on the topic. For this lesson, we'll keep it straightforward, and keep our focus just above the tree tops.

There are a couple of organizational typologies, classifications of organizations, that are key components of organizational theory. Let's focus on two of the key typologies called Blau-Scott and Etzioni, each named after the author that developed them.


The Blau-Scott typology is rooted in cui bono, which means 'who benefits?' Blau-Scott asks: Who is the beneficiary of a given organization's mission? Is it the public at large, members of the organization itself, or a specific group of people? According to Blau-Scott, there are four types of organizations: mutual benefit, service, business, and commonweal.

The following table highlights each type, including examples:

Classification Cui Bono Examples
Mutual Benefit Members Unions, country clubs, political parties
Service Organizations Clients Hospitals, schools, insurance companies
Business Organizations Owners Banks, restaurants, hotels
Commonweal Public Police departments, armed forces, post offices

You could argue that a service organization, such as a school, benefits society as a whole. After all, won't the students of today become better citizens and productive members of society tomorrow?


Where the Blau-Scott typology uses cui bono, the Etzioni typology evaluates control as its root. There are three types of control, or power: coercive, utilitarian, and normative. Let's cover each of these briefly:

Classification Explanation Examples
Coercive Power is exerted through threats and coercion. Misbehavior is punished. Compliance is not optional. Prison, police, public school
Utilitarian Power is exerted through rewards. Good performance is lauded. Compliance is based on positive reinforcement. Bank, restaurant, hotel
Normative Rewards are symbolic. Compliance is based on the good that you are doing. Newspaper, church, university

Within the three types of power, the Etzioni typology also details the level of involvement of the members of the organization. In other words, how do the employees interact with their organization? Do they want to be there? Are they there for moral reasons or just to make a paycheck?

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