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Organisational contexts

There are several important contexts that influence organisations/enterprises. These include the community in which the organisation/enterprise is located, the global environment, the legal system, the political system and the economic context.


Your first step in understanding the community context of your organisation is simply identifying the community that your organisation/enterprise serves. This task might not be quite as straightforward as its seems at first glance because the community context for the organisation is not synonymous with the town or country in which it resides.


Globalisation has effected a range of changes in the movement of capital and services. These changes affect all organisations. Globalisation is a process in which national boundaries and borders are becoming less important as corporations and governments establish international relationships for trade that involves social, economic and technological contexts. Additional papers about globalisation can be found through the Leverhulme research centre for Globalisation.


The legal context involves laws that affect practice in a given setting, and the prevailing social and political attitudes surrounding an organisation’s functioning. Generally a law is accepted by industry and the wider community, and can be enforced. Laws specifically come from statutes of the Commonwealth, State and local governments.

Case law is another source of law. Judges over the years have developed a body of legal principles known as the ‘common law’. This concept is important in many areas of practice, especially that of professional negligence.


When we think of politics we generally refer to our system of government, with three particular activities: the making of laws through legislation; the administration or the executive that manages resources and law enforcement; and the judiciary responsible for the interpretation of the law relating to particular cases. Irrespective of where your placement is located, the organisation will have some contact with one or more of these institutions.

Some students will find themselves placed in a government organisation as part of the administrative or executive arm of government. In working as part of a government service, there is one critical principle - the concept of the Westminster tradition. This means that ministers are elected to Parliament with a mandate from the electorate. They engage with appointed officials to decide policy and provide administration, and are responsible to Parliament for administration and policy outcomes.

These principles have particular relevance for public servants in their day-to-day conduct in the workplace. Just by way of example, public servants are expected to exercise diligence and expertise in implementing government policy, and should not undermine public confidence in the administration or its officers. It also means that public servants should exercise their powers with fairness and equity.


In Australia, governments focus on economic and financial management. Governments advise on such things as what to produce now and in the future, how to produce these products and how to distribute the end results. In setting economic objectives, governments have introduced a range of initiatives to ensure economic growth. There are many initiatives for furthering economic objectives, including the National Competition Policy that aims to remove the barriers to economic competition. This policy also means that government itself must not distort the market place. Government entities such as public utilities are now opened up for competition, with competitive service delivery being a characteristic of many funded programmes. You will certainly hear about the management of these policies in your workplace.

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