3.1.1 What is a Business Operational Structure and what Type of Resources does a Company have at its Disposal?

When considering business structure there are two different approaches, namely the organizational structure and the operational structure. In this module we focus on the operational structure of a company. While the organisational structure depicts the structures and human resources, the operational structure illustrates the processes of a company. Normally, these processes are focused on output (i.e. the organization´s outputs from products and services).

An operational structure describes a logical and chronological structure of an operation of single sequences and events in processes. A symbolic illustration of sequences and events over an absolute or relative timeline is typical for an operational structure. The composition of the elements is based upon the relations between them with applied classification principles. Location must also be considered.

Resources are described as all elements that a company needs as input for the production process. You can distinguish between financial (e.g. capital resources), physical (e.g. machinery), human (e.g. skills of employees and managers) and organizational (e.g. logistic systems) resources. Furthermore it is possible to distinguish between material (tangible) and immaterial (intangible) resources. The first category includes for example machinery and the employees. Immaterial resources are elements such as licenses, expert know-how, ideas, innovation competences, scientific and R&D skills, corporate culture and reputation of the company.

Material resources have the characteristics that they can only be used in one location at a given time. Therefore their contribution is limited regarding the creation of a competitive advantage. Immaterial resources however have multiple effects, as they can not only be used simultaneously in different location but can also contribute to an increase in value by their multiple usages. (Grant 2002)