April 4, 2017


Coordination is a function to be carried out by a manager or superior to ensure that the lower managers or supervisors or operators work without cross purposes and perform the tasks in an aligned manners in the right sequence and at the right time as per a schedule or plan.

To  co-ordinate:    bind together, unify and harmonize activity and effort,  harmonizing  the activities of the organization, coordinating provides the unity and harmony needed to attain organizational goals.

Top managers have senior managers have their direct reports and the senior managers in turn have managers under them.  Hence the coordination of the senior managers is very important. Fayol, the pioneer management write gave the coordination meeting where every reporting assistant is present is the primary tool or device for the coordination. He equates the meeting to budget.

What is Coordination Theory?

Some Important Points from:

What is Coordination Theory and How Can It Help Design Cooperative Work Systems
Thomas W. Malone and Kevin Crowston
Center for Coordination Science (E53-333)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139
Proceedings of the Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, Los Angeles, California, October, 1990.

Coordination Theory

It is most useful to start with the "common sense" definition from a dictionary "the act cf working together arwmoniosly."

We define coordination theory as a body of principles about how activities can be
coordinated, that is, about how actors can work together harmoniously.

In coordination theory, the common problems have to do with coordination: How can
overall goals be subdivided into actions? How can actions be as? :-:ed to groups or to
individual actors? How can resources be allocated among differe . actors? How can
information be shared among different actors to help achieve the overall goals?

Earlier Work

 (1) Holt [Holt88] describes a theoretical language used for designing coordination tools that is based, in part, on ideas about Petri nets, a formalism widely used in computer science to represent process flows in distributed or parallel systems. This language is part of a larger theortical framework called "coordination mechanics."
(2) Winograd and Flores (Flor88l, Wino87], [Wino86]) have developed a theoretical perspective for analyzing group action based heavily on ideas from linguistics  about different kinds of "speech acts," such as "requests" and "commitments." This perspective was a primary basis for designing the Coordinator, a computer tool that helps people make and keep track of requests and commitments to each other.
(3) Malone [(Malo90] describes how ideas from organization theory about flexible organizational sucres called "adhocracies" [Mint79] and ideas from artificial intelligence about "blackboard architectures" for sharing information among program modules (Erma80], [Nii86] contributed to
the design of the Information Lens, a system for helping people share information in orpanizations [Malo87].
(4) Conklin & Begeman [Conk88] and Lee [ee90a] describe systems to help groups of people record the structure of arguments (e.g., positions. arguments, and counterarguments) that are based in part on ideas from philosophy and rhetoric about the logical structure of decision-making.
(5) Turoff [Turo83] used ideas about prices and markets to suggest a computer-based system to help people to exchange services within organization,


Components of coordination

The ends toward which the activities are directed are goals. By using the word "harmoniously," the definition implies that the activities are not independent. Instead, they must be performed in a way that helps create "pleasing" and avoids "displeasing" outcomes, that is, that achieves the goals. We will refer to these goal-relevant relationships between the activities as interdependencies. These components and the coordination processes associated with them are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. Components of coordination.
Components of  ------- Associated coordination processes
Goals        -------------- Identifying goals
Activities --------------- Mapping goals to activities
(e.g., goal decomposition)
Actors      ---------------- Selecting actors
Assigning ---------------- activities to actors
Interdependencies------- "Managing" interdependencies

A narrow definition of coordination

The broad definition of coordination includes almost everything that happens when actors work together setting goals, selecting actors, and performing all the other activities that need to be done. For some purposes, it is useful to be able to focus explicitly on the elements that are unique to coordination, that is, on the aspects of "working together harmoniously" that are not simply part of "working." When we want to focus specifically on the aspects of a situation that are unique to coordination, we will use the following narrow definition of coordination:
"the act of managing interdependencies between activities performed to achieve a goal."

This suggests that one useful way to extend the theory of coordination is to ask what kinds of interdependence between activities are possible and how different kinds of interdependence can be managed.
Our preliminary investigations of this question have led us to believe that interdependence between activities can be analyzed in terms of common objects that are involved in some way in both actions. For example, the activities of designing and manufacturing a part both involve the detailed design of the part: the design activity creates the design and the manufacturing activity uses it. These common objects constrain how each activity is performed. Different patterns of use of the common objects by the activities will result in different kinds of interdependences. For example, the parts can be manufactured only after the design is complete and the actor doing the manufacturing has received a copy. We call this pattern of usage (one task creating an object that is used by others) a prerequisite constraint In general, the common object may constrain any or all of the activities that use it. In this
case, for example, it might make sense for a designer to consider the constraints that the manufacturing process places on the design and to create a design that will be easier to manufacture.

Kinds of Interdependence

Prerequisite   -  Output of one activity required by the next activity  
Shared Resource - Resource required by multiple activities
Simlutaneity - Time at which more than one activity must occur

Supply Chain Coordination Mechanisms: New Approaches for Collaborative Planning
Martin Albrecht
Springer Science & Business Media, 18-Sep-2009 - Business & Economics - 211 pages

Integrated supply chain planning is well understood by theory and widely applied in practice – however, only with respect to intra-organisational supply chains. In inter-organisational supply chains, an additional, yet unresolved problem arises: due to confidentiality reasons, decentralized parties keep their local data private, which prevents an integrated planning. Local planning procedures such as upstream planning, which are usually applied then, result in suboptimal solutions for the supply chain as a whole. In this work, new mechanisms for inter-organizational, collaborative supply chain planning are presented. These mechanisms are able to identify the systemwide optimum for several classes of supply chain planning problems. They can be applied by two or more self-interested parties and do not require a trusted third party. Extensive computational tests for randomly generated and real-word data suggest a favorable performance of these mechanisms.

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