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The Discipline of Organizing: Core Concepts Edition, 3rd Edition by Robert J. Glushko

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7.2. Understanding Classification

Classifications arrange resources to support discovery, selection, combination, integration, analysis, and other purposeful activity in every organizing system. A classification of diseases facilitates diagnosis and development of medical procedures, as well as accounting and billing. In addition, classifications facilitate understanding of a domain by highlighting the important resources and relationships in it, supporting the training of people who work in the domain and their acquisition of specialized skills for it.

In the discipline of organizing we consider classification to be systematic when it follows principles that govern the structure of categories and their relationships. However, being systematic and principled does not necessarily ensure that a classification will be unbiased or satisfy all users’ requirements. For example, the zoning, environmental, economic development, and political district classifications that overlay different parts of a city determine the present and future allocation of services and resources, and over time influence whether the city thrives or decays. These classifications reflect tradeoffs and negotiations among numerous participants, including businesses, lobbyists, incumbent politicians, donors to political parties, real estate developers, and others with strong self-interests.

7.2.1. Classification Is Purposeful

Categories often arise naturally, but by definition classifications do not because they are systems ...

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