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FEEDBACK. Information (data) extracted from a process or situation and used in controlling (directly) or in planning or modifying immediate or future inputs (actions or decisions) into the process or situation. Feedback can be either positive or negative, although the field of cybernetics is based upon negative feedback. Negative feedback indicates that the system is deviating from a prescribed course of action and should readjust to a new steady state.
FORECASTING. The process of predicting or projecting the future for the purpose of reducing uncertainties. Specific forecasting techniques include Delphi, trend extrapolation, dynamic modeling, scenario writing, mapping, and the use of relevance or perspective trees, to name some of the more important ones. Among forecasting dimensions often considered are those pertaining to economic, legal, social, political, ecological, and technological conditions.
FOREMAN. An individual at the lowest rank of the managerial hierarchy. He bears general responsibility for the performance of his organizational unit, guides and directs the work of non-supervisory employees, provides face-to-face leadership, and handles such personnel responsibilities as performance appraisal, discipline, instruction, and grievance processing. (See SUPERVISION; MANAGEMENT, LOWER.)
FORMAL (LEADER, ORGANIZATION, SYSTEM). A term introduced originally in the Hawthorne studies to designate the set of organizational relationships that were explicitly established in policy and procedure (i.e., the "formal organization"). Now the term "formal" has been prefixed onto many types of organizational phenomena, but the reference to what is established in policy and procedure remains. "Formal leader," the designated leader of a group, whether he or she has the most influence in it or not, is one of the most common phrases derived from this term. (See INFORMAL GROUP.)
FUNCTION. Usually an organizational sub-goal. May be defined in terms of end to be achieved or behavior required to achieve ends. Example: administrative function, protection function, manufacturing function.
FUNCTIONAL AUTHORITY. The right to exercise control as assigned to a particular organizational unit or person. Conventionally used to designate specific staff authority exercised over line organizational units.
FUNCTIONAL CONFLICT. Conflict situations, usually between groups in different organizations, that serve to stimulate innovations and production.
FUNCTIONAL ORGANIZATION. A form of organization structure in which activities are grouped according to the purpose, service, or utility they possess.
FUNDAMENTAL ATTRIBUTION ERROR. The tendency to underestimate the influence of external factors and overestimate the influence of internal factors when making judgements about the behavior of others.
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