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Principles of Management
1) Line and staff organizations combine the best features of both the functions. Discuss?
The line and staff structure combines the line organization with support from staff departments . Most
medium-sized and large-sized firms exhibit a line and staff organizational structure. The distinguishing
characteristic between simple line organizations and line and staff organizations is the multiple layers of
management within the latter. While the staff departments may not directly contribute to the production of
the firm like the line positions do, their services indirectly support the line positions.
"Staff and line" are names given to different types of functions in organizations. A "line function" is one that
directly advances an organization in its core work. This always includes production and sales, and
sometimes also marketing. A "staff function" supports the organization with specialized advisory and
support functions. For example, human resources, accounting, public relations, and the legal department are
generally considered to be staff functions. Both terms originated in the military.
Organizations begin as line-only, with line managers having direct control over all activities, including
administrative ones. Only later, as organizations grow in size, do they add staff positions.
Line managers have total authority over their direct reports, but staff workers primarily have advisory
authority rather than direct authority. Their function is to create, develop, collect, and analyze information,
which flows to line workers in the form of advice.
Staff positions can have four kinds of authority: "advice authority," with line managers choosing whether to
seek advice from the staff person, and what to do with it once they get it; "compulsory advice" or
"compulsory consultation" in which line managers must consider the staff person's advice, but can choose
not to heed it; "concurrent authority," in which the line manager cannot finalize a decision without the
agreement of the staff person, and "functional authority" in which the staff person has complete formal
authority over his or her area of specialty.
Management theorists advise that functional authority for staff positions should be extremely limited in
scope: it should cover only a tiny aspect of the line manager's job, it should relate only to areas in which line
managers have no expertise, and it should be granted only where company-wide uniformity is required.
Common types of functional authority for staff positions include authority over recruiting standards,
reimbursement policies, and quality standards.
Staff workers derive influence from expert authority or "authority of knowledge" from their control of
information which may be vital to line managers, and from their closer access to upper management.
Conflict Between Line and Staff
It is very common for line and staff workers to come into conflict. Staff specialists say that line workers
avoid and ignore them, and line workers say that staff workers lack expertise in the organization's core work,
distract them, and get in their way. American organizational sociologist Melville Dalton attributed this to
"the conspicuous ambition and individualistic behavior among staff managers", staff's anxiety to justify their
existence, and the dependence of highly-ranked staff managers on line managers.
Other management theorists have observed that line managers sometimes resent staff for being younger and
better-educated than they are. Others attribute the problem to staff managers not realizing that even though
they have been delegated authority in particular areas, their primary role is to serve and support line
managers. Management textbooks advise resolving line-staff conflict by explicitly recognizing the mutual
dependency of the two, making it clear what the staff role is, de-emphasizing any controlling elements of the
staff role, having staff deliberately set out to win the confidence and trust of line workers, and emphasizing
the staff role as part of the team.

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