Line And Staff Organization Definition – Features, Advntages and Disadvantages

Line and staff organization is a modified line organizational structure. In this organizational structure, the designation of different jobs is decided, and the relationship among them is clearly mentioned. Various methods can be used to structure jobs within an organization, but line organization and line and staff organization are the two most basic and simplest ways for creating job structure in an organization.

In a line organization, the top management has complete control and authority flows from top-level to bottom-level of the organization. Whereas, line and staff organization is modified line organization structure. In the line and staff organization, along with line organization staff departments are created—the role of staff departments to provide advice and support to the line managers.

Many organizations of different sizes, such as medium and large-scaled organization use line and organization structure because of its simple and efficient method to implement. In line and staff organizations, there are multiple layers of management in the organization.

In line and staff organization, the special staff is appointed and is attached to the line managers in order to provide them assistance in specialized activities. However, the power and control remain with the line executives. For example, when a managing director hires a secretary. The secretary might provide help in different work but will be considered a staff official and control remains with the managing director.

Features of Line and staff organization

Features of Line and staff organization

1. In a line and staff organization, there are basically two types of staff such as

  • Staff supervisors

The line managers who are in charge of the work such as managing director, general manager, operations control manager.

  • Staff assistants

The staff assistants are hired to provide assistance and advice to staff superiors. For example, a personal assistant to the general manager and secretary of the marketing manager.

  1. Line and staff organization structure is basically like a line organization structure with little bit additional features. This organizational structure is more complex than a line organizational structure.
  2. In a line and staff organization, there is a clear differentiation between the work and specialization.
  3. The line and staff organization are divided into different functional areas. Then staff specialists are attached to these different functional areas.
  4. The efficiency in line and staff organizations is quite high because of the assistance provided by specialized staff.
  5. There are basically two lines of authority, such as staff authority and line authority in a line and staff organization.
  6. Like line organizations, the power and control remain with the line manager and the role of specialized staff is to provide counseling.

Line and staff authority

Line authority

Authority in a line and staff organization is clearly defined. There are basically three types of authority in a line and staff organization such as functional, line, and staff. However, the control remains with the line authority, and they control the work of both staff and functional lines and assign them new assignments.

1. Line authority

Line authority in an organization flows from top to bottom. For example, a general manager has the right to assign work to the different department heads and expect exact performance from them. Similarly, a finance manager has control of all the financial activities taking place in the organization. With line authority, the line manager gets a certain degree of control over the performance of specific organizational tasks.

There are a few things that one should keep in mind while talking about the line authority.

  • The line authority does not guarantee effective performance.
  • The line authority is not limited to the line personnel, such as the head of the staff department has control over the personnel of his department because of the direct relationship between staff and head of the department.

2. Staff authority

The meaning of staff authority is to have the right to counsel the line authority. For example, the role of a human resource manager is to provide assistance to other departments in the development of a qualified workforce. The staff personnel advises line managers in order to enhance the quality of line operations.

3. Functional authority

Functional authority

Functional authority can also be referred to as limited line authority. That means staff personnel has limited authority in an organization. Usually, they are provided authority over the areas that they have expertise in.

For example, a staff of the accounting department can ask for any documents that they might need to prepare a financial report. Functional authority is a special type of authority that is designated to staff officials by the top management.

Advantages of line and staff organization:

As line and staff organization structure is modified line organization structure, the shortcomings of the line organization structure is taken care of in the line and staff organization.

1. Less stress on line executives

The first and foremost advantage of line and staff organization structure is that it reduces the stress on line executives as there are experts present in the organization that provide them counseling and advice for all important decisions. In this way, the work and stress of line executives get divided between two people and line executives can focus better on other important tasks.

2. Expert’s advice for important decisions

In line and staff organizations, experts are hired to provide advice and assistance in decision making to the line executives. The important work like planning and research can be performed by staff specialists, and line executives can spend more time executing plans.

3. Improved coordination

The inclusion of experts improves the decision-making abilities of line executives. Now line executives don’t make all decisions on their own. The opinions of experts and subordinates are considered. As a result of which better coordination takes place among the employees of the organization.


Advantage of specialization

Lack of specialization is one of the main disadvantages of line organization. In line and staff organization, experts are hired to provide assistance in decision making to the line executives. In this way, the quality of decisions improves and decisions are taken by considering the knowledge of experts.

1. Training

Lack of training affects the growth of an organization. Inline and staff organization, the experts not only help in decision making but also train line executives in their respective fields. In this way, the ability of line executives improves, and they can take decisions focused on the growth of the organization.

2. Advantage of research and development

Specialized staff performs all required research before making an important decision. As a result of which innovation blooms in the organization.

3. Unified actions

Unified actions only happen when there is unified control in the organization and coordination ensures that effective control is there in the organization. The experts play the role of a thread that keeps the heads of all departments together and thus results in unified actions in the organization.

4. More balanced decisions

The in line organization, only the heads of the departments were responsible for taking all the important decisions about the departments. Therefore, the decisions were not balanced. But in line and staff organization, experts help the line executives to take important decisions by establishing coordination between them.


Disadvantages of line and staff organization

1. Expensive

Hiring experts is an additional expense for the organization.

2. Misunderstanding

Many times misunderstanding takes place between experts and line executives which results in conflicts between them.

3. Authority conflicts

In line and staff organization, the chances of conflicts between staff specialists and line executives increase as both think that one is more important than the other.

4. Staff steals the show

The importance of staff specialists increases in the organization as they play and provide experts advice. Hence they steal all the limelight. This makes line executives insecure.

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