Line and Staff Organization

A line and staff organization is a mixture of the line as well as staff organization.

Line organization points out direct vertical relationships, i.e., superior-subordinate relationship connecting the positions at each level. It forms a chain of command or hierarchy of authority on scalar principles. A line relationship is simply known as a relationship of authority between the superior and subordinates in a hierarchical arrangement. The direct line superior has control over his immediate subordinates.  In this case, authority flows downward and accountability goes upward in a straight line. The work also flows in a direct line. The line offices are responsible for accomplishing basic objectives, so that they can issue orders and implement plans and policies with the help of their subordinates. They are authorized to maintain discipline. The line organization maintains direct communication from the higher to lower levels and vice versa. If it is useful for maintaining discipline, it inhibits flexibility and specialization. It becomes autocratic and dictatorial.  It is not used in business organizations.

Staff organization is a specialized organization. It is purely advisory, having no authority of functions.  It helps the line organization in the effective and efficient performance of business.  Staff organization provides authority of investigation, research and advice to persons at the command of the functions.  It provides technical or special advice to line organization in the form of personal assistants, personal secretaries, etc.  There may be staff organization pertaining to law, accounting, research and development, quality control, etc.

Line and Staff Organization

Line and staff organization is useful in business operations. The advantages of specialization and of functional activities are available under this organization. The line feature maintains discipline and stability, whereas staff incorporates expert knowledge. Line organization takes the help of staff organization with reference to law, economy, accounting and specialized policies. Line organization has grown because of the eve increasing role of staff people. The need for staff organization is felt because of the emergence of large-scale enterprises, growing knowledge and technology, specialized services and so on. The socioeconomic conditions in the country have been rapidly changing.  Enterprises operate amid complexities and dynamic environments. There is a need to secure advice from different fields such as science, technology, mathematics, operations research, systems analysis, psychology, and sociology and computer applications for the effective functioning of line activities.  The help and advice rendered by the staff is very useful to the line managers who are always busy with routing functions.

The line as well as staff organization work jointly and without friction as the line men usually perform physical functions while the staff perform mental exercises. When these two functions are segregated and looked at from the angles of lower or higher tenets, the problem of friction arises and the joint motto of the two organizations is shattered. Both the types of organization work in corporation, as line specializes in action and staff specializes in contemplation. The knowledge and expertise of the staff organization supplements as well as complements the line organization. The cohesiveness between line and staff has to continue because both organizations have certain advantages.  Staff organization has the capacity to think, advise, analyze, research, recommend and supplement knowledge, whereas line organization is authorized to perform, command, execute policies and plans, establish superior-subordinate relationships, and all operational duties and responsibilities. The line organization has authority and is responsible for production, marketing and finance, whereas staff has no authority over the line. When the line organization is unable to cope with the problems of business, the staff organization comes to their rescue.  It helps to reduce the costs of production, distribution, advertising, etc.

The line and staff organizations develop conflicts on certain grounds. The staff is viewed as too technical and theoretical by the line, while the latter is considered to be authoritarian and rigid.  The staff has the feeling of being neglected by line managers. The staff is highly knowledgeable while the line is less so, but has more authority. There is need for complete cohesiveness and confidence between the staff the line organizations.

It has been observed that companies having staff recognition are growing satisfactory. In many cases, staff performs the duty of personal assistants or personal secretaries to the line managers. They represent the organization, and have more informal authority. Staff is well regarded by line people. The success of an enterprise depends on how the line and staff organizations work with close cooperation and confidence.

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