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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

Killing Shimei: A Brief Study in Organizational Perspectives

The following post is adapted from my personal academic coursework.

Killing Shimei: A Brief Study in Organizational Perspectives

Ramirez referenced a perceived leadership responsibility to the individuals within the organization. While such a perspective seems to suggest a natural perspective on organizations, one with a greater focus on the organization’s members than its goals or structures, Ramirez advocated for a more holistic approach, and recommended that “the rational, natural, and open [system] perspective[s]… …be leveraged in unison to best meet the needs of the business, maximize efficiency and effectiveness and adapt to inevitable change.” This is easier said than done. To use all these approaches at the same time requires understanding their strengths, weaknesses, and relationships with each other.

Intersecting Perspectives

Scott and Davis noted that while each of these three organizational paradigms “has its own charms as well as its own blemishes; and each carries its own truth as well as its own biases…,” the situation increases in complexity because “the three perspectives partially conflict, partially overlap, and partially complement one another.” How does this work in practice? Consider Merida’s reckoning of David’s instruction for Solomon to kill Shimei. While it is in some ways impractical to apply these three models to a singular piece of advice, the simplicity of the situation lends itself well to understanding how these perspectives work together. From the natural perspective, for Solomon to kill a man whom David had shown mercy seems like a clearly wrong decision. Merida even asks, “Was this brutal?”

However, evaluating the same facts from the rational paradigm leads Merida to suggest otherwise, saying: “[David and Solomon] were divinely anointed kings, and any assault against [their] royal person[s] was an attack against the kingdom of God. Opposition was no small thing.” Snyder and Citulli stated that people “can take on any number of different [work] identities.” Solomon operating in his role as king may have to make different decisions than he would as a private citizen. This perspective makes killing Shimei a clearly right decision. Thus, these two perspectives lead us to draw conflicting conclusions.

What of the open system paradigm? The open system perspective states that organizations are open systems and are “capable of self-maintenance based on the throughput of resources from the environment.” Barth et al. explained that the definition of throughput could include ““input, in the sense of sufficient resources, “throughput,” in the sense of efficient transformation of the resources, and “output,” understood as achieving relevant and planned goals” and that the kingdom be considered “as a natural and open system, in which the focus is on the survival of the system.” Jung and Vakharia also commented on how to implement the open system approach in various organizations: “Formalization, complexity, and centralization play a key role in how organizations design structures that facilitate the flow of knowledge in order to meet their goals. Thus, aligning these elements of organizational structure with an open systems approach can benefit organizations as they adapt to changes in their external environment.”

When considering David, Solomon, and Shimei, Merida pointed out that “we must realize the importance of securing the kingdom.” In the case of the united monarchy, self-maintenance required strong leadership. Fortunately (or unfortunately, in Shimei’s case), Solomon provided it. In fact, when Solomon ordered Shimei’s execution, he declared in 1 Kings 2:45, “the throne of David shall be established before the Lord forever” (NKJV). Solomon (the organization) used resources from the environment (wisdom from God) to self-maintain (execute Shimei and preserve David’s royal house).


Proverbs 11:14 states that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Typically, readers interpret this to mean a multitude of people. However, a multitude of perspectives is a multitude of perspectives, and toward that end, Ramirez’s recommendation has merit. Wise leaders will take his advice to heart.


Barth, M., Emrich, E., & Daumann, F. (2018). Approaches and methods used for measuring organizational performance in national sport governing bodies from 1986 to 2014. A systemized review. Current Issues in Sport Science, 3, 1-22.

Jung, Y. & Vakharia, N. (2019). Open systems theory for arts and cultural organizations: Linking structure and performance. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 49(4), 257-273.

Merida, T. (2015). Christ-centered exposition commentary: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. B & H Publishing Group.

Ramirez, R. (2021, April 1). Rational, natural, and open systems [Discussion post].

Scott, W. R. & Davis, G. F. (2016). Organizations and organizing: Rational, natural, and open system perspectives (6th ed.). Routledge.

Snyder, J. L. & Cistulli, M. D. (2018). Application of in-group identification to organizations: A study of the impact of self-investment and self-definition on key organizational outcomes. International Journal of Business Communication, 23(3), 1-20. https://doi.10.1177/2329488418777039

The Holy Bible, New King James Version (1982). Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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