Importance of Coordination

By: Prapanna Lahiri

Coordination has been variously defined as stated below:

  1. Co-ordination is the unification, integration, synchronisation of the efforts of group members so as to provide unity of action in the pursuit of common goals.
  2. Coordination refers to integration of activities of individuals in a group, between multiple groups and/ or departments within an organisation aimed at achieving the objectives of the organisation formed by these units.  Coordination is often confused with cooperation. Co-ordination is an orderly arrangement of efforts to provide unity of action in fulfilment of common objective whereas co-operation denotes collective efforts of persons working in an organisation voluntarily for the achievement of a particular purpose. It is the willingness of individuals to help each other. Coordination can be enforced while cooperation comes from within.
  3. From the aforesaid definitions it is clear coordination applies to group activities and not to individual activities. Coordination does not come automatically and needs to be enforced to bring about unity of action.

Management experts have emphasised about the primacy of coordination in organisational theory:

1. “Coordination is the Essence of Management.” I.e. Coordination affects all the functions of management, viz., Planning, Organizing, Staffing, etc.

Management seeks to achieve co-ordination through its basic functions of planning, organising, staffing, directing and controlling. Thus, co-ordination is not a separate function of management since achieving harmony between individuals’ efforts towards achievement of the group goals is a key to success of management. Co-ordination is the essence of management and is implicit and inherent in all functions of management

2. Coordination is a function of management.

3. Coordination is a principle of management; more specifically coordination is the ‘Mother Principle,” in as much as all other principles are included in this one principle.

4. Coordination is the “Plus-value of the group,” says Mary Parker Follett, an American social worker and a pioneer on organisational behaviour. It means in a group sporting good coordination between its constituent individuals, the combined group achievement can be greater than the added value of the individual achievements. It substantively means 2+2 may add up to 5 in terms of activities of a well coordinated human group though physically it is impossible. The need for coordination may be listed under three fundamental categories:

Why Coordination is necessary:

The need for coordination may be listed under three fundamental categories:

  1. Division of labour
  2. Interdependence of individuals and functions.
  3. Integration of individual with organization

On the basis of above broad categories the need for coordination within an organisation may be further expanded under the following heads:

Specialisation:  The principal benefit of the principle of division of labour is specialisation. The first step towards ensuring specialisation is segregation of the organisation into different parts. Now, to gear all these parts into achieving a common organisational goal the segregated parts require coordination. Thus, Coordination is important for achieving job specialization.

Unity of Action: An organisation performs with diverse resources, both material and human. Coordination becomes important to fulfil intended organisational goals by reducing the diversity and restoring unity of action of these diverse resources, human skills, tasks and perceptions.

Optimum utilisation of resources: Coordination is important to consolidate the human and material resources of the organization. By minimising wastage and by streamlining usages of resources their optimum utilisation is ensured.

Quick achievement of objectives: Coordination is important to minimise conflicts, rivalries, wastages, delays and other organizational problems. The collective organisational goal is quickly achieved by removing the said hindrances.

Encouragement of team spirit: Coordination reduces conflicts between individuals and departments, between line and staff and between individual objectives and organisational objectives. This encourages working in a team and boosts team spirit.

Improved Intra organisational relationship: Coordination has an important role in promoting relationships between various levels of management and operatives, right from the Top Level to the Middle Level, to the Lower Level and finally to the workers and operatives, since each level coordinates the functions of level coming under it.

Facilitation of motivation: Coordination encourages individual initiative and freedom within an individual’s domain by removing friction and overlapping of responsibilities. It becomes easier to extend financial and non-financial incentives. This ensures job satisfaction and motivation to perform better.

Higher efficiency: As already stated coordination ensures optimum utilisation of material and human resources; it automatically results in savings on costs. Since efficiency is a measure of higher returns relative to costs incurred it can logically be concluded that coordination leads to higher efficiency. Moreover coordination enhances collective competence pooling together each individual employee’s knowledge in creating a knowledge pool. This is critical for survival of an organization in a competitive environment.

Interdependence: Although with division of labour an organisation operates by segregating its activities into different functional areas, the interdependence of every function finally helps in realising the organisational objectives. This interdependence and synchronisation is secured through coordination.

Balancing inequalities and restoring teamwork: Individual inequalities and differences cause imbalances in an organisation. Coordination irons out these imbalances and facilitates teamwork to achieve organisational goals.

Synergising differentiated work: As earlier explained success of an organisation is dependent on a scenario where combined effect of efforts becomes greater than the sum of their separate effects. Coordination helps in synergising differentiated work units to achieve the integrated effects. It is possible to achieve synergy through effective coordination as it helps in integration even in differentiation.

Integration of Individual and Organisational Goals: Individual needs decide Individual goals. It may not be coterminous with group or organisational goals. The need is to harmonise these goals to attain desired results. Coordination is the tool to accomplish this harmonisation.    

Modern day growing organisations feature an effective network of huge number of people working in unison. Coordination is the instrument that makes this possible. The points explained above amply illustrate the extent of importance that the principle of coordination has in the success of a robust organisation. Without coordination, it is difficult to achieve the desired goals. This is why Chester Barnard the noted American business executive and author opined “…the quality of coordination is the crucial factor in the survival of organization.”

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