What is a Line Organization? Meaning, Types, Pros, and Cons

What is Line Organization?

A line organization is the oldest and most traditional form of organizational structure. Under this structure, there is a direct line of authority from the superior to the subordinate level through an unbroken chain.

A top-level manager has full authority to take over his subordinate-level management and also he is responsible for the decision he made.

Line organization structure is also known as a simple organization or military organization. It follows the principle of chain of command and scalar chain. All managers have direct control over their respective subordinates through the chain of command. And, every employee is directly responsible to his immediate superior.

In the line organizational structure, there is one head for decision making and the rest are the followers of that decision.

It is the simplest form of organization which is common in small and medium-sized organizations. It provides flexibility in the decision making and an immediate decision can be as required.

Example is,

An example of line organization structure

Types of Line Organization

Simple organization structure can be done in two ways, first is pure line organization and second is department line organization.

Type 1: Pure Line Organization

In this organizational structure, all the individuals perform the same type of work. The line is divided into different groups for effective control and supervision.

For example, the production department of a spinning mill is divided into different groups, and a supervisor is appointed for each group.

Also Read: Functional Organization: Definition, Pros, and Cons

Type 2: Department Line Organization

As its name suggests, the organization must be divided into different departments on the basis of their work.

For this purpose, a department head is appointed for each department. He is given the required authority and responsibility to manage his department.

For example, the production department of a textile mill may be divided into different sections like spinning, weaving, tying, coloring, finishing, etc. Each section in charge has direct control over his section. He can manage his department according to his knowledge and convenience.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Line Organization


1. Simple and Easy To Understand

Line organization is simple to design, understand and operate. There is a clear definition of the authority and responsibility relationship.

2. Quick Decision and Implementation

Each manager in the line organization has an independent status and can take a quick decisions within his authority. Quick decisions and their implementation help to get the benefit of business opportunities.

3. Maintain Discipline

In a simple organization, there is a chain of command from the top level to the bottom level of management. Every employee is responsible to his immediate superior. There is less probability of conflict. Hence, discipline can be maintained there.

4. Fixed Responsibility

Unity of command supports settling the duty in the line organization. No one can exchange their duty to others nor can they avoid it. Every employee is responsible for completing the given work.

5. Flexibility

The simple organization is adjustable according to the changing business environment. Thus, it permits flexibility in operation. Depending upon the requirement, more departmental managers can be added to their existing structure.

6. Effective Management

There is both chain of command and a span of control in the line organizational structure. The top-level manager can control the entire organization through the hierarchy of authority. Every employee is responsible to his immediate superior. Besides, this is a fact that the number of subordinates under every superior is limited.

7. Economical

The simple organization is economical in operation. The top-level manager can take decisions according to requirements without taking technical suggestions from experts and specialists.


1. Overload on Managers

In the line organization, managers have to perform a wide range of functions. Managers have to involve themselves in jobs of different natures.

As such, they can not devote sufficient time to creative functions. Similarly, they can not devote time to supervising their subordinates. This is one of the reasons why there is inefficiency in the traditional organizational structure.

2. Lack of Specialization

There is an absolute lack of functional specialization. An employee has to involve in various types of work. Similarly, a manager has to look after various departments and functions at a time.

Thus it relates to “Jack of All Traders But Master of None”.

3. Autocratic Leadership

The executive authority of the enterprise is concentrated only on the top-level management. They are willing to adopt a dictatorial approach. Subordinates have no freedom to do their job. They are bound to follow instructions from their superiors.

4. Problems of Coordination

In a simple organizational structure, various departments are autonomous, and there is little communication with each other. Due to a lack of proper communication, all departments perform jobs in their own style.

Related: What is Coordination? Features, Types, and Importance

5. Inefficiency

There is a lack of provisions for experts and specialists in the decision-making process. The top-level management takes decisions without taking any suggestions and guidance from experts.

In such a situation, the problem of imbalance in the managerial decision may arise. Due to one head-made decision, it may be unfit in some cases, thus the performance may be inefficient.

6. Lack of Stability

Line organizations totally depend upon a few executives. They perform all types of works of creative and innovative nature. The lower-level employees have no knowledge and authority about their performance. So, there is a lack of stability in enterprise performance.

7. Unsuitable in Present Day Environment

It is a traditional concept of management. Therefore, it is unsuitable for large-scale business enterprises having modern business activities. Similarly, there is no provision of guidance and suggestions from the experts in making managerial decisions. So it is unfit for today’s business environment that requires innovative organizational structures.

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