What is Line and Staff Organizational Structure? Definition, and Pros/Cons

What is Line and Staff Organization?

Line and staff organization can be defined as the outcome of the positive sides of both line and functional organizations.

Line organization features a simple pattern of structure and there’s a scarcity of managerial specialization. Similarly, functional organization structure creates complexity within the operation thanks to a scarcity of defined relationships between superiors and subordinates. Line and staff organization has been developed to strike a balance between the unity of command and functional specialists.

Within the line and staff organization structure, there’s a provision of a sequence of commands as in line organization, and, additionally, there’s also a provision of functional specialists to supply suggestions and guidance to line managers in taking important decisions.

The functional specialists (staff) are involved only in advisory works and haven’t any authority to offer instructions to line managers and subordinates. As such, the works of the organization are broadly divided into two: line and staff. The staff is liable for the preparation of plans, while line authorities are liable for the implementation of plans.

Thus, line and staff organization is the combination of line and functional organizational structures. Functional specialists contribute to creating plans and line managers are liable for the implementation of such plans within the practical field. This organization is meant to be at the limitation of both line and functional organizational structures. This structure is suitable for medium and large-scale organizations.

Related: 5 Types of Organizational Structures in Management

line and staff organization advantages disadvantages

Advantages of Line and Staff Organization (7 Points)

The advantages/pros of line and staff organization are as follows:

Managerial Specialization

Within the line and staff organization, the work of the organization is split among the road authorities. Line authorities are efficient in their own sector of business and also available for the completion of given work.

Besides, they get suggestions, guidance, and advice from functional specialists in accordance with requirements. This adds to the working efficiency of the organization.

Better Coordination

Coordination among all the personnel of the organization is one of the benefits of line and staff organization. Line authorities involve in implementing plans and maintaining control over activities. And, functional authorities are involved in providing guidance and suggestions to line authorities. This helps in maintaining better coordination among members of the organization.

Functional Authority

The road/line authorities are given the authority to exercise control over the subordinates of their own line departments. The supply of such functional authority in a method saves the time of the overall manager, and indifferently, facilitates quick and efficient implementation of instructions.

Practical Decision

The proper decision at the proper time is important for the success of the business. during this structure, the highest management and line authorities are liable for the choices.

They will make better decisions by taking suggestions and knowledge from functional staff members. This helps in maintaining the balance between various activities of the organization.

Facilitates Growth

The line and staff organization structure facilitates growth and helps develop the business activities of the enterprise. Here, both line and functional authorities work jointly in achieving organizational objectives.

An enterprise can expand its business and may diversify its lines of business in accordance with the scope and financial benefits. The expansion and development of business activities don’t create any significant problems during this organizational structure.

Better Utilization of Resources

The line and staff organizational structure facilitates better utilization of organizational resources including manpower. Here, both line and staff officials perform their functions through mutual cooperation and coordination.

Proper and efficient utilization of human resources contributes to minimizing wastage and helps with the breakdown of other resources. this is often helpful in maximizing productivity.

Greater Flexibility

This organizational structure provides a far better scope for flexibility. New-line departments are often created on the idea of requirements. Line authority and subordinates are often appointed within the departments concerned.

In a similar way, the management can modify the authority and responsibilities of the workers consistent with requirements. This provides scope for the expansion and expansion of the business activities of the enterprise.

Disadvantages of Line and Staff Organization (7 Points)

Problem of Conflict

One of the limitations/cons of the line and staff organization is the problem of conflict between line and staff authorities. This problem creates a tense environment and puts an issue mark on the event of the working efficiency of the organization.

Greater Confusion

The line and staff organization creates confusion within the minds of the manager, subordinates, and also among line and staff authorities. the shortage of demarcation of authority and responsibility between line and staff authorities creates confusion among them. It creates greater confusion among subordinates on whom they’re responsible.

High-Cost Structure

This needs more administration costs. This structure needs two sorts of executives line and staff. Line authorities are efficient in their own line of business and, as such, they expect more remuneration.

Meanwhile, functional specialists are to be aided more. As such, it’s impossible to attenuate the value and maintain higher efficiency operational with limited resources.

Over-Dependence On Staff

In some situations, executives could also be over-dependent on staff members for information and suggestions. In a similar way, they create plans in accordance with functional specialists and implement plans consistent with their own creativity, initiative, and judgment.

This might exploit the theme of the line and staff concept and may have a negative impact on the line of the enterprise.

Inefficient Staff

Functional specialists haven’t any formal right to require a lively part in the preparation and implementation of plans. Their role is restricted only to providing advice and suggestions to line authorities.

Whether or to not accept their suggestions depends upon line authorities. They will not compel line authorities to implement their suggestions and concepts. Therefore, functional specialists feel the ineffectiveness of their presence and work.

Lack of Responsibility

Line managers may depend on an excessive amount of functional specialists. Line managers may even implement plans in accordance with functional specialists’ advice and suggestions. In such a situation, line authorities may lose their commitment and creativity. And, sometimes they become careless about their responsibilities.

Complication For Management

It’s harder to coordinate and manage both line and staff authorities, as both may have negative attitudes towards one another. In some situations, the highest management is confused about handling line and staff authorities.

This becomes a significant problem within the management, especially, in emergency situations. the highest management has got to implement its tactfulness to take care of coordination and mutual relation among both the authorities.

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