Line and Staff Organization
Line and staff organization is the outcome of the positive sides of both line and functional organizations. Line organization has a simple pattern of structure and there is a lack of managerial specialization. Similarly, functional organization structure creates complexity in the operation due to a lack 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.
In the line and staff organization structure, there is a provision of a chain of commands as in line organization, and, in addition, there is also a provision of functional specialists to provide suggestions and guidance to line managers in taking important decisions.
The functional specialists (staff) are involved only in advisory works and have no authority to give instructions to line managers and subordinates. As such, the works of the organization broadly divided into two: line and staff. The staff is responsible for the preparation of plans, while line authorities are responsible for the implementation of plans.
Thus, line and staff organization is the combination of line and functional organizations. Functional specialists contribute to making plans and line managers are responsible for the implementation of such plans in the practical field. This organization is designed to overcome the limitation of both line and functional organizational structures. This structure is suitable for medium and large-scale organizations.
Advantages of Line and Staff Organization (7 Points)
Advantages of line and staff organization are as follows:
In the line and staff organization, work of the organization is divided among the line authorities. Line authorities are efficient in their own sector of business and are also responsible 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.
Coordination among all the personnel of the organization is one of the advantages of line and staff organization. Line authorities involve implementing plans and maintaining control over activities. And, functional authorities involved in providing guidance and suggestions to line authorities. This helps in maintaining better coordination among members of the organization.
The line authorities are given authority to exercise control over the subordinates of their own line departments. The provision of such functional authority in one way saves the time of the general manager, and in another way, facilitates quick and efficient implementation of instructions.
The right decision at the right time is essential for the success of the business. In this structure, the top management and line authorities are responsible for the decisions. They can make better decisions by taking suggestions and information from functional staff members. This helps in maintaining the balance between various activities of the organization.
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 can diversify its lines of business in accordance with the scope and financial benefits. The expansion and development of business activities do not create any significant problems in this organizational structure.
Better Utilization of Resources
The line and staff organizational structure facilitate 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 in the breakdown of other resources. This is helpful in maximizing productivity.
This organizational structure provides a better scope for flexibility. New-line departments can be created on the basis of requirements. Line authority and subordinates can be appointed in the departments concerned. In a similar way, the management can modify the authority and responsibilities of the employees according to requirements. This provides scope for the growth and expansion of the business activities of the enterprise.
Disadvantages of Line and Staff Organization (7 Points)
Problem of Conflict
One of the limitations of the line and staff organization is the problem of conflict between line and staff authorities. This problem creates a tense environment and puts a question mark on the development of the working efficiency of the organization.
The line and staff organization creates confusion in the minds of the manager, subordinates, and also among line and staff authorities. The lack of demarcation of authority and responsibility between line and staff authorities creates confusion among them. It creates greater confusion among subordinates as to whom they are responsible.
High Cost Structure
This needs more administration costs. This structure needs two types 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 aid more. As such, it is impossible to minimize the cost and maintain higher efficiency in operation with limited resources.
Over Dependence On Staff
In some situations, executives may be over-dependent on staff members for information and suggestions. In a similar way, they make plans in accordance with functional specialists and implement plans according to their own creativity, initiative, and judgment. This may exploit the main theme of line and staff concept and can have a negative impact on the business line to the enterprise.
Functional specialists have no formal right to take an active part in the preparation and implementation of plans. Their role is limited only to providing advice and suggestions to line authorities. Whether or not to accept their suggestions depends upon line authorities. They can not compel line authorities to implement their suggestions and ideas. Therefore, functional specialists feel the ineffectiveness of their presence and work.
Lack of Responsibility
Line managers may depend too much on 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 is more difficult to coordinate and manage both line and staff authorities, as both may have negative attitudes towards each other. In some situations, the top management is confused in handling line and staff authorities. This becomes a serious problem in the management, especially, in emergency situations. The top management has to implement its tactfulness to maintain coordination and mutual relation among both the authorities.