A company also called a firm or business is an organization or an institutional unit, driven by a project declined in strategy, policies and action plans, whose goal is to produce and supply goods or services. services intended for a set of customers, by balancing their expense and income accounts.


To do this, a company calls on, mobilizes and consumes resources (material, human, financial, immaterial and informational) which leads it to have to coordinate functions (purchasing function, sales function, IT function, etc.). It operates within the framework of a precise context to which it must adapt: ​​a more or less competitive environment, a technical-economic sector characterized by a state of the art, a specific socio-cultural and regulatory framework. It can set itself the objective of achieving a certain level of profitability, more or less high.

No company can exempt itself from the balance between the level of its income and its expenses. In the event of a deficit, it must be reduced or filled by an external contribution (for example a balancing subsidy) under penalty of non-viability and the disappearance of the company more or less shortly.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, companies have been called upon to take into account the requirements of sustainable development, through what is called corporate social responsibility (CSR). in English.


In the social sciences, an organization is a social group made up of interacting individuals, with a collective goal, but whose preferences, information, interests and knowledge may differ1: a company, a public administration, a trade union, a political party , an association, etc.

The organization of something designates the action of organizing (structuring, delimiting, arranging, distributing or articulating). In this sense, it is a social process.

An organization is the result of regulated actions (a company, a public service, an administration, an association, an army, an event, etc.).

Major types of organizations

Company, type and nature of formal organization

A company – seen as an organization – is then a structured means, constituting a coordination unit, having identifiable borders, operating continuously, with a view to achieving a set of objectives shared by all of its members (employees, managers, shareholders, etc.).

Organizational methods

Most organizations rely on a set of formal and informal mechanisms5. Thus, researchers in organizational science have studied the type of interaction between formal and informal organizations. On the one hand, some have argued that formal and informal organizations function as substitutes because one type of organization would diminish the benefits of using the other. For example, if the parties trust each other, the use of a formal contract is unnecessary or even detrimental to the relationship. On the other hand, other researchers have suggested that formal and informal organizations can complement each other. For example, the presence of formal control mechanisms can pave the way for the development of relational norms.


A special status must be attributed to micro-organizations to which legally correspond micro-enterprises (less than 10 or 20 people depending on the legislation) and all sports teams, etc. which are the responsibility of psycho-sociology, this distinction corresponding to everyday language. The “organization” is implicitly reserved for groups of more than fifteen people.


The interest of the organization – both in its design and in its management – is to take into account in order to try to reduce it, the natural tension that spontaneously exists between on the one hand the objectives chosen, on the other the available means. and / or united to achieve it.

The organization succeeds all the better in regulating this tension if it is capable of “forming a system”, that is to say of being and acting as a set of interacting elements, grouped together within a group. ” a managed structure, with a communication system to facilitate the flow of information, with the aim of responding to needs and achieving specific objectives.

The search for optimization of the organization.

The organization can be seen from a structural or managerial perspective.

Structural approach

The organization tends to facilitate the circulation of flows and thus to achieve determined objectives. The flow circulation will be improved if there is no deformation of these and if it is possible to accelerate them. To limit the distortion, it is necessary to increase the level of standardization of what frames the flow (database management, procedures, anti-error systems, etc.) or the flexibility of the organization. To increase the speed of the flow, it is necessary to implement the existing synergies within the organization.

It is possible to distinguish four types of organizational structure, and sometimes even the possibility of modifying it in use.

  • Pooling: ability to identify a service provided by the organization and to use it in several contexts.
  • Scalability: capacity of the organization to be able to grow by a change of scale, that is to say to support larger volumes of processing without calling into question the underlying architecture.
  • Resilience: the ability of an organization to continue to function in the event of a failure.

It is therefore possible to judge the quality of an organization by various indicators of flexibility (or of standardization, of tension…) and of the synergies of intangible capital according to the perspectives (segmentations) of the organization. They are essential to the construction of the strategy of the organization and thus make it possible to link the theories of organizations (economic and sociological) with its practice in the field. The strategy of an organization must imperatively take into account all the dimensions that constitute it in order to be valid.

Managerial approach

According to the international standard ISO 9000 (version 2005), the organization is defined as a “set of responsibilities, powers and relationships between people”. It is one of the tools of a company’s management system, which allows (according to ISO 9000) “to establish a policy and objectives and to achieve these objectives”.

Optimizing an organization means, on the one hand, optimizing its organizational structure and transversal business processes, and on the other hand, mobilizing staff so that all employees focus their energy on achieving objectives.

Choice of measurement standards

The breakdown of the organization to be analyzed is free, but more or less practical and linked to the epistemology used. In order to link, for example, the theory of organizations and its practice, the organization can first be segmented in order to evaluate it by a relatively sociological approach into8: Technology, Physical structure, Social structure, Culture.

The value of the organization can be obtained by accounting means for its tangible part, and by the measurement of intangible capital for its intangible part. This intangible capital is a source of controversy and is the basis of many theoretical analyzes (economic and sociological). It can be measured in practice by distinguishing, for example, according to IFAC9 as an international standard: human capital, relational capital, structural capital.

For analytical purposes, it is also possible to assess this intangible capital according to the skills, routines or conventions necessary for the organization according to the theories used.

It is also possible to assess the organization by the measurement standard for intangible liabilities, for example transaction costs or other measurement standards. Other theory fully takes into account, for example limited rationality, groups or individuals or other forms of bias.

Basic mathematical indicator

For all the segments of the organization that are relevant to the strategy of the organization (or the paradigm chosen theoretically), it is possible to assess performance by comparing the gain obtained with the effort made (under the assumption that the organization is assessable and seeks a gain).