Formal architecture of a legal department compared to culture and ways of working

An article in the Admin. Sci. Q., Sept. 2003 at 401, distinguishes “architecture” from “culture” in organizational design. The architecture of a law department consists of the formal structures for assigning work, such as a litigation group, a business unit group, or an intellectual property group. Hierarchies such as deputies, assistant general counsel and associate general counsel fall into “architecture” as does the physical location of offices.

Culture, by contrast, is defined in that article as what “governs how work actually gets completed, how members interact, how decisions are actually made, which units defer to others, and so forth.” Less formal culture looks at a law department in a different way than does formal architecture: ways of working and actual practices predominate. Culture resists change more than architecture.

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