Everything you need to know about the line and staff organization. According to line and staff organisation, specialized and supportive activities are attached to the line of command by appointing staff supervisors and staff specialists, who are attached to the line authority.
Line and staff organisation is a modification of line organisation that is more complex than line organisation.
In a line and staff organisation, the work of administration of business units is divided into two broad divisions, viz., the staff which is responsible for planning and the line for the actual execution of the work.
The staff is attached to the line to assist the line in discharging its duties efficiently. This method clearly distinguishes the difference between the two aspects of administration, viz., planning and execution.
Learn about:- 1. Types of Staff 2. Functions of Staff Authority 3. Advantages 4. Disadvantages 5. Meaning 6. Types of Staff Support 7. Improving Line and Staff Relationship.
Line and Staff Organization: Types of Staff, Functions of Staff Authority, Advantages, Disadvantages and a Few Others
Line and Staff Organization– Types of Staff, Functions of Staff Authority, Advantages and Disadvantages
Both line and staff organisations suffer from same drawbacks. On the one hand, line organisation is autocratic and staff organisation, on the other hand, has lose control.
Line and staff organisation eliminates the drawbacks of both and also has the good points of them. It is a happy blending of line and staff organisations.
Both line and staff personnel have important roles to play. In this organisation line authority flows in a vertical line in the same manner as in line organisation. In addition staff specialists are attached to line positions to advise them on important matters.
This organisation owes its birth to the army. A commander in the field is assisted by staff officers in planning and executing his strategies. He will like to know the positions of his enemies so that he is able to plan his own placing. Staff officer helps the commander in all aspects of his job.
A line manager is vested with executive authority. He is responsible for making important decisions and is also accountable for their implications. Line officers are responsible for the accomplishment of various objectives. The authority flows vertically from top to bottom.
Staff officers are experts in their fields. They are attached to line managers to advise them in the field of their specialisation. Their role is of advisers. The line officers may or may not rely on their advice. The staff organisation facilitates the accomplishment of organisational objectives by making available valuable advice and expert knowledge. Staff officers may be asked to suggest solutions to various problems encountered by line officers. They have no authority to command the line staff but have control within their own organisation.
Louis Allen has clarified these roles as – “line refers to those positions and elements of the organisation which have the responsibility and authority and are accountable for the accomplishment of primary objectives. Staff elements are those which have responsibility and authority for providing advice and service to the line in the attainment of objectives.”
The Staff may be of three types:
1. Personal Staff:
Personal staff is attached to individual line officers. The Personal Assistant or the Private Secretary etc., form personal staff of line managers. These persons help their bosses in every possible way. The routine work of line officers is mostly handled by the personal staff. They fix routine meetings, open the post, maintain diaries and accompany the boss on official visits. The line officers are spared of routine works and are able to devote much time for planning and execution.
2. Specialist Staff:
These are technically qualified persons who provide service to the whole organisation. They serve line and other staff in planning, organising and coordinating their work. Their specialised knowledge is an asset to the organisation. The appointment of a legal advisor may be helpful to every department where his advice is required.
3. General Staff:
This staff consists of persons attached to the key executives. They have the same background as that of line officers. They are attached to important functionaries as their deputies, etc. They may be appointed as Deputy Managers, Assistant Managers, Special Assistants, etc.
The staff authority is assigned the following functions:
1. Agency of Control – It has to discharge the functions such as – (a) organisation; (b) cost; (c) audit; (d) budget; (e) personnel (f) accounting; etc.
2. Agency of Co-Ordination – It has to help in co-ordination of work among different departments. These functions are – (a) planning; (b) order and distribution; (c) production planning; (d) communication.
3. Agency of Service – It performs functions like – (a) research and development; (b) taxes; (c) statistical analysis; (d) personnel development.
4. Agency of Advice – It has to perform functions such as – (a) legal advice; (b) public relations; (c) labour relations; (d) economic.
Advantage of Line and Staff Organisation:
This organisation has the following advantages:
Line and staff organisation introduces specialisation in a systematic manner. Persons with specialised knowledge are appointed to help line officers. The planning part is generally undertaken by staff personnel and line officers are able to devote much time for execution.
2. Better Discipline:
The unity of command is maintained in this type of organisation. The staff personnel do not interfere with the executive work of line officers. The workers get command from line personnel and are accountable directly to them for their performance. This creates better understanding and discipline among employees.
3. Balanced and Prompt Decisions:
The functional managers have the advantage of expert advice when taking important decisions. The staff can also be used to investigate and advise on inter-departmental relationships. The line officers can take balanced and quick decisions.
4. Growth and Expansion:
The line and staff organisation is quite suitable for growth and expansion. The burden of line staff is eased by the appointment of specialists. Line officers will be able to devote much time for future planning. The present staff will enable the expansion and growth of unit. Some assistants can be appointed to cope with the work if needed.
5. Development of Employees:
This organisation provides scope for advancement of career to able and dedicated employees. There are more openings for those who have capabilities of going up. The separation of functions of ‘planning’ and ‘doing’ also helps in creating more and more job opportunities. Promotional chances increase for deserving persons.
6. Lesser Burden on Line Officers:
With the appointment of staff officers the burden of line officers is greatly reduced. The specialists help line officers in deciding things regarding their lines of specialisation. The line officers are left with routine administrative work. They will be able to devote their time in supervising the implementation of various plans and policies.
7. Quick Actions:
The line officers will have sufficient time to take various decisions. Whenever there is a need for certain decisions, they will be able to devote time and decide the things. This type of situation helps in solving many issues which would have created difficulties if timely decisions would not have been taken.
The line and staff organisation suffers from the following drawbacks:
1. Conflict between Line and Staff Personnel:
There is a possibility of conflict between line and staff personnel. The responsibility for operations lies with line officers while staff officers only advise. The staff officers feel ignored at the hands of line officers. The line officers, on the other hand, complain of interference by staff persons in the day-to-day working. The conflict between line and staff officials adversely affects the work in the organisation.
2. Lack of Responsibility:
There is a lack of responsibility for staff officials. They are not accountable for the actual results of operations. This may tempt them to give rash or theoretical advice. They may also be casual in their approach because the whole blame for non-performance lies with line.
3. More Dependence on Staff:
The line officers become habituated for advice on staff. They refer everything to staff for advice. Over- dependence on staff will make line officers less creative. They will not give much thought to any activity since advice will be available from staff.
4. Lack of Co-Ordination:
There will be a lack of co-ordination between line and staff. The staff advice may be confused with line orders. The staff officers may also not be clear about their exact role. They may try to dominate the implementation part of their advice. Overlapping of functions will create confusion and disorder among employees.
5. Ineffective Staff:
The staff officers do not wield any power in the organisation. Without power they will not get prestige in the organisation. They will feel unimportant and the quality of advice will also be adversely affected.
This type of organisation is very expensive because a large number of specialists are appointed. The persons being experts in their fields, they demand higher emoluments. Small and medium concerns cannot afford line and staff organisation because of its expensive nature.
Line and Staff Organization– Line Authority, Staff Authority, Meaning, Types of Staff Support, Merits, Demerits and Line and Staff Conflict
In any large organization, assignment of tasks and duties and delegation of authority to subordinates becomes necessary even though the ultimate responsibility for proper performance rests with the manager who assigns those tasks and duties.
This means there can be no delegation of responsibility for proper performance of work; authority can be delegated and the term “line” is used to indicate the “line of authority”. For example, in the production department of a manufacturing concern, there may be works manager, superintendent, charge-hands and workmen, each having authority over immediate subordinates but being responsible for performance of tasks and duties assigned by him.
In an organizational set-up, those who possess line authority are the people who are directly involved in the basic activities of the organization. They are the doers.
The dictionary meaning of ‘staff’ is a ‘stick’ that is carried in hand for support while walking. The staff authority does just that in a line organization, it provides expert services to line managers. Staff authority denotes a relationship where managers having expertise in their respective fields (research and development, quality control, finance, and recruitment and training of workers) provide assistance to line managers. But they only act in advisory capacity; their advice is not binding on line managers.
A line and staff organization is one where expert advisers, in the role of functional managers, assist line managers in the performance of their duties. Thus, in an organization engaged in production of cotton textiles, the production manager (in-charge of production), the marketing manager (in-charge of marketing and sales) are line managers, and the departments headed by them are line departments.
As against this, the finance manager (in-charge of raising funds for business activities), personnel manager (in-charge of recruitment, training and placement of workers), quality control manager (in-charge of maintaining the quality of products), and public relations manager (in-charge of advertising and publicity) are managers who perform staff functions.
Line managers have direct control over the subordinates under them. Staff managers are only meant to aid and advise line managers.
Line and staff functions frequently overlap. Most staff executives may also simultaneously be line and functional executives. For example, when the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) advises the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on when to raise finance and from which sources, he acts as staff manager. When he supervises the work of his subordinates in the finance department, he becomes a line manager, and when he advises line managers at different levels to follow specific accounting procedures in their respective departments, he assumes the role of a functional staff manager.
Personal staff consists of personal secretary, personal assistant or personal adviser, attached to the line executive at any level. His main function is to aid and advise the line executive as also to perform any other work assigned to him such as booking air or rail tickets, arranging hotel accommodation, fixing appointment with government officers, preparing guest list for any family function, etc.
The staff in this case has up-to-date expert knowledge in specific areas relevant to the functioning of the organization such as personnel recruitment, training and development, financial and management accounting services, public relations management, engineering services.
For performing each of these functions, the organization may employ one or more experts and provide them separate office space and staff. Experts in these areas are generally appointed at middle, and lower levels of management.
The staff in this case also consists of experts. But generally/ this category of staff managers operates at higher levels and is meant to aid and advice the top management.
Line managers, their subordinates and, in fact, the entire organization benefits from the expert advice and assistance provided by staff personnel. A machine in the factory is not working properly; an expert mechanical engineer is always at hand to make the machine rolling. The CEO of the organization is not able to decide the opportune time to raise additional capital; the CFO is available to advise him on that.
Staff managers are ever engaged in analysis of each important managerial activity, be it relating to research and development, production of goods and services, right time and sources to raise finance, wage rates to workers, etc. This considerably relieves the relevant line managers from undertaking detailed investigation of each problem situation for which, in any case, many of them may not be competent.
A line and staff organization offers an opportunity to young staff executives to acquire expertise in their respective fields of activity.
The organization determines the pattern of authority-relationships between line and staff managers. If may have done it after painstaking research. But there may still be grey areas; managers may be confused about the point where a line manager’s authority ends and the staff manager’s begins.
Staff managers are asked to advise line managers but they lack authority to have their advice translated into action on ground. A machine in the factory explodes. The CEO asks the chief engineer to investigate and submit report within a week to pacify workers who are demanding compensation to the machine- man who suffered injuries.
The chief engineer submits his report saying the machine is too old and needs replacement. The CEO pays compensation to the injured machine-man but asks the engineer to carry out repairs to the machine and forget about its replacement. The chief engineer is left feeling helpless.
In a line and staff organization, line managers alone have the authority to make and implement decisions. This tends towards centralization of authority in their hands.
Causes of Conflict:
The conflict between line and staff personnel may be attributed to:
(a) Cultural, educational and socio-economic background of the line and staff personnel, resulting in conflicting attitudes to organizational issues; and
(b) Tendency on the part of both line and staff to play disruptive political games because of consciousness about differences in their authority positions.
Generally, staff personnel are relatively young, better educated and more sophisticated in appearance and articulation of viewpoints. They suffer from the notion that their ideas, if implemented, will produce miraculous results. However, their problem is that they generally lack the command authority to translate their ideas into action, and have therefore to pursue the exasperating course of persuasion and political game-playing.
As against this, line personnel view their staff counterparts as a source of irritation because the advice and recommendations made by them may involve change in the status quo, experimentation with impractical ideas, and high expectations as regards what can be accomplished.
Line personnel also feel that the staff personnel make unreasonable demands on their time, often without any useful results. In the process, while the line personnel accuse the staff people of being impractical and visionaries, the staff people return the compliment by saying that the line personnel are unimaginative, stubborn and are by nature opposed to any change in the status-quo.
However, while the line-staff conflict may seem unavoidable, it should be welcome in a limited way, because it forces the staff people to be practical and result-oriented, and the line people to be less rigid and more receptive to change. The way out seems to be effective coordination and formalized standardization such that the conflict does not come in the way of accomplishment of organizational goals and objectives.
Line and Staff Organization– With Advantages and Disadvantages
According to line and staff organisation, specialized and supportive activities are attached to the line of command by appointing staff supervisors and staff specialists, who are attached to the line authority. The power of command always remains with the line executives and staff supervisors guide, advice and council the line executives. Personal Secretary to the Managing Director is a staff official. Line and staff organisation is a modification of line organisation that is more complex than line organisation.
The line authority flows towards the bottom while staff authority flows towards the top. The General Manager exercises line authority over his subordinates. Staff managers render advice about the problems in their respective areas to the General Manager, who gives order to his subordinates concerned to put advice into action. However, staff manager (e.g., personnel manager) has line authority over his subordinate (personnel officer).
The major advantages of line and staff organisation are as follows:
1. Planned Specialization:
Line and staff organisation introduces specialization in a systematic manner. Persons with specialized knowledge are appointed to assist line officers. The planning part is generally undertaken by staff personnel and line Officers are able to devote much time for its execution. Specialization, and complete standardization of work and product, is encouraged as it is based on well-settled planning. It enables an enterprise to make effective use of the benefits of the specialized knowledge of staff experts.
2. Enhances Operational Efficiency:
It permits line managers to focus on the basic activities of the enterprise that helps to improve the efficiency of operations.
3. Ensures Unity of Command:
Line executives exercise full authority over their subordinates. They maintain discipline and effective control in the organisation. The unity of command is maintained in this type of organisation. The staff personnel do not interfere with the executive who works as of line officers. The workers get instructions from line personnel and are accountable directly to them for their performance. It is very useful to bring discipline and better understanding among employees.
4. Provides Proper Training and Development:
No doubt, there are more openings for those who have capabilities of going up. The separation of functions of ‘planning’ and ‘doing’ also helps in creating more and more job opportunities. Promotional chances increase for right persons. Executive training and development is facilitated in line and staff organisational. There are greater opportunities for promotion. This organisation has scope for advancement of career to able and dedicated employees.
5. Sound and Quick Decisions:
In these organisations, all decision is reached after consultation with the experts in each field. This provides benefit the functional managers while taking crucial decisions. At the same time, staff can be investigated and advised on inter-departmental relationship that helps to take balanced and quick decisions.
6. Provides Relief to Top Executives:
As staff carries out detailed investigation and supplies information, the line executives take decision. It reduces the workload of line executives, by providing sufficient chance of creative thinking to generate new ideas. With the appointment of staff officers the burden of the officers is greatly reduced. The specialists help line officers in deciding things as per their lines of specialization. The line officers are left with routine administrative work. They will be able to utilise their time in supervising the implementation of various plans and policies.
7. Flexibility in Nature:
Line and staff organisation is rather flexible. As the organisation expands, more staff is added. Because of availability of variety of jobs, there is more opportunity for advancement.
8. Growth and Expansion:
The line and staff organisation is quite suitable for growth and expansion. Line officers will be able to devote much time for future planning. The present staff will enable the expansion and growth of unit. Some assistants can be appointed to cope with the work if needed. The burden of line staff is relaxed by the appointment of specialists.
Following are the main disadvantages of line and staff organisation:
1. Conflict between Line and Staff:
Conflict between line and staff executives occurs when both the executives impose themselves on each other. The line and staff relationships are often fragile and lead to numerous frictions and jealousies. There is a possibility that the staff officers may encroach on the line authority. Line managers feel that the staff specialists do not always give the right suggestion. But staff officials generally complain that their advice is not properly adhered to.
2. Advice may be Ignored:
The staff advice is ignored by the line executives on the pretext of its being impracticable. Staff officers are only in the advisory.
3. Creates Confusion:
It may create confusion among line executives and staff specialists. Division of authority and responsibility among them may not be very clear.
4. Lack of Responsibility:
There is a lack of responsibility for staff officials. They are not accountable for the actual results of operations. Staff may not be held responsible for results. Line may blame staff for failure. This may tempt them to give impractical or theoretical advice. They may also be casual in their approach because the whole blame for non-performance lies with line.
5. Lack of Motivation:
Incompetent staff may become redundant when line executives do not accept their advice. Very often the staff may feel helpless as it has no authority to command. The staff experts may feel ineffective as they do not get the authority to implement their recommendations.
6. Increased Cost:
Since a large number of experts and specialists are appointed in these organisations, it proves to be expensive in terms of money and resources. Small and medium concerns cannot afford such professionals, due to their high costs.
There are some advantages and disadvantages both in the line organisation and functional organisation. In order to reap the advantages of both line organisation and functional organisation, a new type of organisation is developed, i.e., line and staff organisation. Under line and staff organisation, the disadvantages of line organisation and functional organisation may be avoided to some extent.
The line officers have authority to take decisions and implement them to achieve the objectives of the organisation. The line officers may be assisted by the staff officers while framing the policies and plans and taking decisions.
In the fast developing industrial world, the line officers are not in a position to acquire the technical knowledge. For example, while taking decisions regarding the production, technical knowledge is needed to take correct decisions.
This type of gap may be bridged with the help of staff officers. The staff officers may be experts in a particular field. Then, the line officers can get expert advice from the staff officers before taking the final decisions. According to Allen, “Staff refers to those elements of the organisation which provide advice and service to the line.”
The authority flows from top level to the lower level of the organisation through the line officers while the staff officers attached to the various departments advise the departments. The staff officers do not have any authority to control anybody in the organisation. Besides, the staff officers are not in a position to compel the line officers to follow the advice given by them.
Each department is headed by a line officer who exercises full authority regarding the planning, implementation and control of workers under him with the help of staff officers. There is no connection between workers and the staff officers of any department. The workers get the instructions only from the line officers. Hence, the unity of command and specialisation are followed in this organisation.
This is an improvement over the other two types of organisational structures. It tries to maintain a balance between too much concentration of control under line system and too much division of function under functional organisation. Under this system, the staff organisation does not exist independently, but a body of experts is employed more or less permanently to assist the line officials. Thus, staff makes investigation, collects information, chalks out plans and prepares schemes.
The line officials select the best scheme and give instructions accordingly. The role of staff is essentially one of advice and assistance and to provide for expert and specialized services. The staff occupies only an advisory capacity. They have no control over the workers or the foremen, and thus, they cannot give them any direct instructions.
They simply assist the line officials by providing advice on special subjects. The final decision is taken by the top officer, who may, at his own responsibility, reject the advice of the expert staff, if not satisfied.
To illustrate, a production manager who is directly responsible for achieving the fixed targets may be advised and supported by an industrial engineer who is not directly responsible for those production targets. Similarly, a marketing manager who is responsible for the selling of goods may obtain wide support from the market research manager who collects market information.
Line and staff organisation came into being as a result of inability of the departmental managers to investigate, think and plan at the same time, as they were performing the ordinary tasks of production and selling.
Consequently, the work of investigation, research, recording, standardization and advising, i.e., the work of the experts was wholly distinguished and separated from the routine process of manufacturing and selling with the result that there arose a clear demarcation between’ thinking’ and ‘doing’, the staff being the ‘thinkers’ and the line being the ‘doers’.
Line and Staff Organization– Types of Staff, Advantages and Disadvantages
The line system concentrates control too much; the functional plan divides it too much. The need was, therefore, for a system that will strike a happy balance between the two.
This need was fulfilled by the Line and-staff system of organisation. This concept arose first in the army. An army needs full information not only about itself but also about the enemy. It is for this purpose that all field commanders have staffs.
The function of the staff is to collect full information and put forward alternate plans of action before the commander who then makes his choice and it is the further duty of the staff to draft suitable instructions for all the various units constituting the army in order to carry out the selected plan. Exactly so it is with a business house.
A manager today cannot hope to think of all possible factors in a given situation. Therefore, he has a set of expert advisers. A problem is thought out by these advisers and the manager concerned, then, has to make up his mind and issue instructions. Of course, it is up to the manager to disregard the advice, if he so chooses. But generally it is not done because if, later on, things go wrong, and it is found that the manager ignored the expert advice given to him he will have a lot to explain.
Generally, those functions which have direct responsibility for accomplishing the major objectives of the firm are called line functions. The staff functions are supposed to help and assist the line in discharging their responsibility.
Thus, in a firm engaged in the manufacture of dyes and chemicals, the Works Manager in-charge of production, the Marketing Manager and the Finance Manager may be thought of as line officials and their departments may be called line departments while functions like personnel management, quality control, public relations and Accounting may be called Staff functions.
However, it will be more logical to think of line and staff as two types of organisational relationships. From this point of view line is that relationship in which a superior exercises direct command over his subordinates in direct line whereas a staff relationship is one in which a person has to advise and assist another person in the organisation generally at the same level.
The role of staff is essentially one of advice, assistance and the provision of expert and specialised services. However, it will be noticed that generally the element of advice is more important in the staff relationship at the higher levels in the organisation and the element of service is relatively less significant. However, the staff attached at the lower levels of the organisation is more concerned with the provision of expert and specialized services
Types of Staff:
The staff position established as a measure of support (incidentally, staff refers to the stick used for support) for the line organisation may take the following forms:
(i) Personal Staff – Here the staff official is attached as a Personal Assistant or adviser to a Line Officer. The function of Personal Staff is to render advice, assistance and services to the line executives, with whom they are attached.
(ii) Specialised Staff – Such staff acts as the fountain- head of expertise in specialised areas like Accounting, Personnel, Public Relations, Research and Development, etc. Generally, a staff department is created for each of these functions and the staff officials or personnel are distributed to various managers beginning with the topmost at the central office down to the operating level.
(iii) General Staff – This category of staff consists of a set of experts in different areas who are located at the Central Office and are meant to advise and assist the top management on matters calling for expertise.
(a) It is based on planned specialisation.
(b) It provides the benefit of expert advice to the line management.
(c) It provides greater chances of advancement to able employees by making more jobs available.
(a) The allocation of authority and responsibility may not be clear as there can be confusion about the relationship between line and staff executives.
(b) The staff experts may be ineffective because they do not get the authority to implement their recommendations.
(c) The line managers and supervisors may develop the feeling that the staff undermines their authority. This may lead to friction between them.
Line and Staff Organization– With Advantages and Limitations
A manager today cannot hope to think of all possible factors in a given situation. Therefore, he has a set of expert advisers. Those functions which have direct responsibility for accomplishing the major objectives of the firm are called line functions. The staff functions are supposed to help and assist the line in discharging their responsibility. The staff position established as a measure of support for the line organization may be of personal staff, specialized staff and general staff.
(i) It is based planned specialization.
(ii) It brings expert knowledge to bear upon management.
(iii) It provides more opportunity for advancement for able workers.
(i) Relationship between line and staff member may create confusion.
(ii) Lack of authority may affect the interest of the staff member.
(iii) Prestige and influence of line member may suffer in front of specialist.
Line and Staff Organization – Advantages, Disadvantages and Improving Line and Staff Relationship
In the line organisation, there is too much concentration of control. In the functional organisation, there is too much division of control. Hence, there was need for a new system which could avoid the defects of both these systems. This need has been fulfilled by line and staff organisation.
In a line and staff organisation, the work of administration of business units is divided into two broad divisions, viz., the staff which is responsible for planning and the line for the actual execution of the work. The staff is attached to the line to assist the line in discharging its duties efficiently. This method clearly distinguishes the difference between the two aspects of administration, viz., planning and execution.
The staff personnel only give advice to the line officials but do not enforce it. The staff officials prepare plans and recommend to the line officials who implement them with the help of their departmental personnel. Thus, the staff members are thinkers while the line officials are doers.
The line and staff organisation is based on the principle of specialisation. In the line organisation, as executives look after the entire work relating to their departments, there is no scope for specialisation. Whereas in the line and staff organisation, the staff officer is concerned with only one aspect of the total assignment of line officer and hence, attains specialisation in his job.
Staff personnel may consist of (a) Personal staff, personal assistant or adviser attached to a line executive, (b) Specialised staff, e.g., accountant personnel manager, public relations officer, etc., (c) General staff, e.g., other experts in different fields who normally operate at higher levels and advise the top management.
1. Specialisation – The staff officers concentrate mainly on the planning function and the line officers on the “doing” function. By this method, specialisation is attained.
2. Flexibility – Staff can be added to the line and new activities may be introduced without disturbing the line procedure. Hence, there is greater flexibility in the organisation.
3. Expert Advice – The staff officers provide expert advice and guidance to line officers and by this, the enterprise as a whole gets benefit.
4. Sound Decisions – In this type, the decisions are made by experts and hence, there is a possibility of making sound managerial decisions.
5. Relief to Line Executives – The Staff officers look after the detailed analysis of each important managerial activity which is a big relief to the line officers.
6. Opportunities for Advancement – In this type, a greater variety of responsible jobs are available and this provides more opportunities for advancement of capable workers.
1. Confusion – If the pattern of authority relationship between line and staff executives is not clearly indicated, there may be considerable confusion throughout the organisation.
2. Advice Ignored – As the staff officers lack authority to put their recommendations into practice, their advice may be ignored by the line executives.
3. Encourages Carelessness – As the staff officer is not concerned with the execution of the plan, he may not take proper precautions and care before he advises the line officer. Thus, this system may encourage carelessness on the part of the staff officer.
4. Expensive – This type requires the appointment of a large number of experts involving heavy expenditure. Hence, it is quite expensive and small and medium-sized concerns cannot afford it.
5. Conflict between Line and Staff – One more important disadvantage is the conflict between the line and staff officers.
The viewpoints of both line and staff of this conflict are given below:
A. The Line Viewpoint:
The line managers have the following to say about the staff people:
(i) Staff authority undermines line authority and interferes in the work of line managers.
(ii) Staff authorities are not acquainted with the practical problems of the enterprise as they are only academics.
(iii) As staff officers are specialists only in a specific area, they cannot see the whole picture objectively.
(iv) Advice given by the staff is not always sound. Advice is only theoretical and unrealistic.
(v) Staff take credit if the programme (as per the advice of the staff) is successful and blame the line if it is not successful.
B. The Staff Viewpoint:
Staff authorities have the following complaints against line officers:
(i) Line officers do not make proper use of advice given by staff.
(ii) Line officers reject the advice without giving reasons.
(iii) Line officers are slow to accept new ideas and they resist change.
(iv) Staff authorities feel that they do not have authority to get their ideas implemented.
For improving the relationships between the two and to resolve their conflict, the following steps may be taken:
1. The limits of authority of both line and staff should be prescribed clearly.
2. Staff authority should be restricted to a purely advisory role.
3. Line officers should give due consideration to staff advice. They should state reasons in case they cannot accept the advice.
4. Line should value the special skills of staff and similarly the staff should try to appreciate the difficulties in implementing new ideas.
5. The advice of staff should be realistic and practicable.
6. Both line and staff should try to understand each other’s responsibilities and difficulties and try to co-operate with each other for the achievement of enterprise objectives.
Line and Staff Organization – Advantages and Demerits (With Superiority of Line and Staff Organization over Line Organization)
The line executive is often described as the individual who stands in the primary chain of command and is directly concerned with the accomplishment of primary objectives. Line organization provides decision-making authority to the individuals at the top of the organisation structure and a channel for the flow of communication through a scalar chain of authority.
Line executives are generalists and do not possess specialized knowledge which is a must to tackle complicated problems. With a view to give specialist aid to line executives, staff positions are created throughout the structure. Staff elements bring expert and specialized knowledge to provide advice to line managers so that they may discharge their responsibilities successfully.
In line and staff organisation, the line authority remains the same as it does in the line organization. Authority flows from top to bottom. The main difference is that specialists are attached to line managers to advise them on important matters. These specialists stand ready with their specialty to serve line men as and when their services are called for to collect information and to give help which will enable the line officials to carry out their activities better.
The staff officers do not have any power of command in the organization as they are employed to provide expert advice to the line officers. Staff means a supporting function intended to help the line manager. In most organisations, the use of staff can be traced to the need for help in handling details, gathering data for decision-making and offering advice on specific managerial problems.
Staff investigates and supplies information and recommendations to managers who make decisions. Specialized staff positions are created to give counsel and assistance in each specialized led of effort.
Line and staff structure has gained popularity because certain problems of management have become very complex and, in order to deal with them, expert knowledge is necessary which can be provided by the staff officers.
For instance, personnel department is established as a staff department to advise the line executives on personnel matters. Similarly, finance, law and public relations departments may be set up to advice on problems related to finance and accounting, law and public relations.
The staff officers do not have any power of command in the organisation as they are employed to provide advice to the line officers. In most organisations, the use of staff can be traced to the need for help in handling details, gathering data and offering advice on specific managerial problems.
Advantages of Line and Staff Organization:
The line and staff organisation has the following merits:
(i) Specialized Knowledge – Line managers get the benefit of specialized knowledge of staff specialists at various levels.
(ii) Reduction of Burden – Staff specialists relieve the line managers of botheration of concentrating on specialized functions like accounting, selection and training, public relations, etc.
(iii) Proper Weightage – Many problems that are ignored or poorly handled in the line organization can be properly covered in the line and staff organization by the use of staff specialists.
(iv) Better Decisions – Staff specialists help the line executives in taking better decisions by providing them with adequate information of right type at the right moment and expert advice.
(v) Flexibility – Line and staff organization is more flexible as compared to the line organization. General staff can be employed to help line managers at various levels.
(vi) Unity of Command – Under this system, the experts provide special guidance without giving orders. It is the line manager who only has got the right to give orders. The result is that the enterprise takes advantage of functional organisation while maintaining the unity of command i.e., one subordinate receiving orders from one boss only.
Demerits of Line and Staff Organization:
The line and staff organisation suffers from the following drawbacks:
(i) There is generally a conflict between the line and staff executives. There is a danger that the staff men may encroach on the line authority. Line managers feel that staff specialists do not always given right type of advice, and staff officials generally complain that their advice is not properly attended to.
(ii) The allocation of duties between the line and staff executives is generally not very clear. This may hamper coordination in the organization.
(iii) Since staff men are not accountable for the results, they may not be performing their duties well.
(iv) There is a wide difference between the orientation of the line and staff men. Line executives deal with problems in a more practical manner. But staff officials who are specialists in their fields tend to be more theoretical.
Superiority of Line and Staff Organization over Line Organization:
Line and staff organisation is considered better than the line organisation because of the following reasons:
(i) Staff makes available; expert advice to the line executives. This is necessary to deal with complex problems of management. For instance, personnel department is established as a staff department to advise the top executives and other line executives on personnel matters. Similarly accounts, law and public relations departments may be set up to advice on problems related to accounting, legal issues and public relations.
(ii) Better decisions are ensured in line and staff organisation as compared to a simple line organisation.
(iii) Line and staff structure is more suitable for large organisations as expert advice is always available. The line managers can make use of the knowledge of staff specialists to deal with complicated problems. Therefore, line and staff organisation is certainly better than line organisation.
This type of organisation has evolved on account of certain inherent limitations common to Line and Functional types of organisation. The line and staff organisation tries to remove the most of the defects of line and functional organisation as it possesses practically all the strong points.
Under this system, the departmental line organisation is functioning with the help of staff, the so-called specialists or experts, who will be in charge of specific function or certain functional that are similar to each other. The line portion of the line-and-staff organisation operates exactly in the same manner as that which is described under the line, scalar or military organisation. So, it can be emphasised here that the line-and- staff organisation is having two water-tight compartments one being that of “thinkers” and other that of “doers”.
Therefore, one can see that the staff being the body of the specialists of experts does the functions of “thinkers” and the line division does the work of doers.” So, the staff division of the organisation will chalk out the programme of different operations to be performed under its jurisdiction and the necessary orders in this respect will be issued to the line section which is expected to execute these orders to the best of its capacity.
Thus, thinking and doing functions are prudently separated under this system of organisation. This type of organisation has its own importance particularly when the business enterprise grows in its size. One should note that without affecting the discipline in the organisation, it has been practised particularly in a large enterprise ensuring the regular flow of authority from top to bottom.
The Staff Relationships:
Organisation is the structural relationship between the various factors in the enterprise. It may refer to the personnel or persons filling the various positions in the structural relationships. The line, scalar or military organisation is one in, which authority and responsibility flow in a direct line from the chief executive office to the lowest employee.
The line and staff organisation combines the characteristics of the line organisation with those of the functional type of organisation and thus achieves the advantages of both the types of organisation, viz., line and functional. In the line-and- staff organisation, the staff is attached to the line to assist the line in discharging its duties in the best possible capacity.
In fact, the staff arises from the application of the principle of specialisation to the line organisation whose executives are responsible for the whole work concerning their respective departments. One should note that the staff executive concentrates on only one aspect of the line officer’s total assignment and, therefore, staff authority is in a better position to advise line authority in discharging its duty. In other words, the staff officer or department performs an advisory, coordinating and service function for the line.