Organization – definition and meaning

An organization is an organized group of individuals. The group has a particular purpose, such as a government department or a business. The term ‘organization’ also refers to the action of organizing something. People work together in an organization for a common purpose. In other words, the members of the group have collective goals.

Organizations all have a management structure. That structure determines what the relationships are between different members and activities. says that organizations are open systems. In other words, they affect their environment and vice-versa.

According to, an organization is:

“A group of people, structured in a specific way to achieve a series of shared goals.”

Etymology of ‘organization’

The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the term emerged in the English language in the mid-fifteenth century. In mid-15c. it meant ‘act of organizing.’ The word came from Middle French Organisaton, which came directly from Medieval Latin Organizationem. In 1873, it assumed the meaning ‘system, establishment.’

The word originally came from the Greek Organon, which means ‘organ.’

Etymology is the study of the origin of words and how they have evolved.

In British English, the word is spelled with an ‘s’ in the middle – for example, ‘organisation.’

Organization - image with definition and examples
If a group of people get together, coordinate their activities, and have a common goal, it is an organization.

Organization – different types

There are hundreds of different types of organizations. For example, governments and companies are organizations. There are also political organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Charities, the armed forces, partnerships, cooperatives, schools, and universities are organizations.

Organizations function either in the public or private sectors. However, hybrid organizations work simultaneously in both. In other words, they fulfill public duties as well as operating in the marketplace.

If they consist of volunteers, we call them voluntary organizations or voluntary associations. Voluntary associations can usually operate without legal formalities.

Some organizations operate in secret. For example, organized crime comprises many criminal groups that work together in illegal activities. Secret societies operate ‘under the radar’ or ‘underground.’ Some resistance movements have members who meet secretly.

Organizational theory is all about the relationship between organizations and their environment.

We call the study of how we create and develop organizations organizational economics. Organizational economics also looks at how organizations affect economic growth.