A taxonomy is a subject map to an organization’s content.
It reflects the org’s purpose or industry, the functions and
responsibilities of the persons or groups who need to
access the content, and the purposes/reasons for
accessing the content.
A taxonomy is an information access tool, and will be
implemented in a manual or automated system.
It is a communication and training device providing
history, expertise and inside information access tool, a
taxonomy needs requirements and purposes before it
Taxonomy is an empirical constructed classification
that identifies “clustering among org.l variables
that is statistically significant and predicatively
useful and that reduces the variety of org.s to a
small number of richly defined types.”
Mckelvey: advocated the development of
taxonomies to understand a number of org.l
phenomena such as environmental adaptation,
structural design, and change.
Approaches to taxonomic Studies
1. Emperical /atheoretical Studies
2. Theoretical taxonomic Studies
3. An Integrated Taxonomic Studies
Empirical / atheoretical Taxonomic
Major taxonomic studies in the org.l literature are strictly empirical,
i.e., working without a priori conceptions and relying on resulting
natural clusters of org.s to establish the classifications system.
They cannot, of course, measure or include all possible org.l
characteristics to generate the clusters.
Thus, some selection of the grouping parameters should be made. This
is one of the major issues for any classificatory attempt, but for
empirical taxonomist this is probably the most critical issue.
the rationale for an atheoretical approach is not clear. To begin with, it
is not clear at all what is meant by ‘atheoretical’.
It seems that the term is used to refer to the broadest, non-selective
inclusion of org.l attributes in taxonomic studies.
Critique of empirical/atheoretical
It attempts such as those by Hass, Pugh and Goronzy were not
successful, becz they were inconsistent. Successful
empirical classification must be based on a robust theory of
org.l differences or on methods that are carefully
atheoretical – there is no room in the middle.
For an empirical classification to be carefully atheoretical it
has to meet a number of guidelines, which include, but are
not limited to:
1. Use of a simple probability sampling method for selecting
a sample or org.s
2. Definition of the broadest possible population of org.s and
3. Definition of a population of rog.l attributes as inclusive as
Empirical taxonomists shd start with easily
identifiable and draw a non-stratified probability
sample of org.s from this population.
Research shd proceed on a population-bypopulation basis, defining the broadest possible
sample of taxonomic characters and randomly
selecting them if a computer program limits the
handling of them all.
Initial definitions of populations would be modified
as a result of classification research.
Theoretical Taxonomic Studies
This approach is developed by McKelvey.
Building on the experience from biology and on biological analogies,
McKelvey has proposed a theoretical approach I which evolutionist
and numerical taxonomic methods are to be combined to develop a
classification system of org.s
Acc.to McKelvey, org.l species shd be defined as, “polythetic groups of
competence-sharing populations isolated from each other because
their dominant competencies are not easily learned or
The idea of polythetic groups, as opposed to that of monothetic
groups, does not imply that all the members of a group or class
share all and the same characteristics, but just that they share a
large proportion of the characteristics defining the group.
McKelvey’s org.l species concept is based on the concept
of competence elements, or comps.
The comps are defined as, “the elements of knowledge
and skill that, in total, constitute the dominant
competence of an org.”
Dominant Competence is defined, in turn as, “the
combined workplace (technological) and org.l kn and
skills (e.g. differentiation, coordination, control,
measurement of effectiveness and organizing
proccesses) that together are most salient in
determining the ability of an org to survive.”
From a natural selection, populations of org.s
have a set of comps which are held as
knowledge and skill by employees of org.s in
Selection and retention processes account for
the fact that each population of org.s is
characterised by a given set of comps.
These populations of org.s shd be the starting
point for classification studies.
Critique of theoretical
McKelvey’s species concept is based on the notion of dominant
competence, which is, in principle, acceptable. However, to be
useful, this definition has to be operationalized.
He admits that it is impossible to offer precise definitions of directly
relevant without having in mind a specific population of org.s
This criticism point to the extreme difficult in elaborating an
acceptable species concept, which is one of the main lessons from
the history of biology and also from almost any other successful
classification enterprise in the natural sciences.
Researchers are not better-off in coping with the selection of grouping
parameters when working from this alternatives classification
perspective than when following an empirical taxonomy approach.
An Integrated Taxonomic Studies
Ulrich and McKelvey identified a number of business competencies
(eg. R&D or engineering, manufacturing/assembly, mktg) and the
types of mkts served (components, electric power.
Communications) as well as other characteristics (eg: size,
diversification, productivity) and used them as taxonomic
characters. On the basis of these taxonomic characters, Ulrich and
McKelvey identified thirteen populations within the United States.
The selection of a particular set of variables as taxonomic characters
becomes a matter a of both theoretical discussion and empirical
results. In other words, researchers will argue about what are the
most relevant variables to be included as taxonomic characters in
terms of the literature, but they will also support their selections in
terms of empirical results, i.e., whether or not the selection of
given set of taxonomic characters leads to the identification of
distinguishable, interpretable, and reproductable populations of
Purely atheoretical taxonomic studies seems to be not only
without a well developed rationale, but also impracticable.
Researchers are better-off building on extant theories and
previous research to select certain variables as taxonomic
characters, than attempting a blind and indiscriminate
inclusion of all the org.l attributes that could be measured
and included in a study.
Such a strategy implies that the amount of effort and
resources required for taxonomic studies are considerable.
Any researcher or group of researchers considering a
serious taxonomic work must recognize, from the beginning
that a long and thorny way lies ahead. Initial results are
unlikely to be impressive. The pay-off, would not be
appreciable in the short-term.