Today, most organisations are concerned with the productivity and performance of their employees. It has been widely said that what counts are results from the organisation’s performance. There are certain organisational structures that can help in this end. This study, therefore, wishes to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of hierarchical structure and Matrix structure. It will demonstrate how this two models compliment each other towards organisation’s success. Definitions of Hierarchical and Matrix Structure
Hierarchical structure is a model used to define the function of each employee within the organization. This model also explicates the relationship of each employee with other employees (Bridges et al. 1968:317). In its design, hierarchical structures constitute of narrow ps that diverge as one move down the structures. They reflect a situation where most decisions are centralised in senior management section (Bridges et al. 1968:317). It is believed that hierarchical structures became more and more popular in the twentieth century since they ensured command and organizations’ control (Kramer 1994:8).
The advent globalization and popular use of technology led to the downsizing of the tall hierarchical organizations and reducing their workforce as well (Kramer 1994:8). In this regard, technology absorbed most of the organisation’s functions that were previously carried out by men (Kramer 1994:10). The matrix model can be defined “as an attempt to bring together both pure functional structure and the product organisational structure” (Burton & Borge 1998: 22). It is also worth noting that this combination considers only the advantages of the two structures mentioned above.
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Matrix structures, for instance, are suitable for construction companies and other project-driven firms (Burton & Borge1998:27). It can also be defined “as a technique of management through a dual-reporting series as opposed to traditional linear management structure” (Robbins 1983:14). This study wishes to restate that whereas most organisational structures group managers and employees as per their role or product, matrix management captures both the functional and product departments in a dual authority framework (Chi & Nystrom 1998:13).
Merits and De-merits of Hierarchical Structures As indicated above, hierarchical structure defines the role of each employee in the orgnisation. This creates since authority and responsibility is well laid out (Bridges et al. 1968:319). Moreover, in a hierarchical organisation framework there are high chances of utilizing effective specialist managers (Bridges et al. 1968:320). Another advantage is that a hierarchical structure motivates the employees to remain royal and committed to their departmental roles within the organisation.
All employees strive for career growth and job promotion as well. Hierarchical structures serve this end since they clearly define a promotion path, which employees can aspire to reach (Locke 1968:175). However, hierarchical structures have got several de-merits. It occasions bureaucracy in the organisation and even slows the orgainasation’s commitment in responding to the changing customer needs and the market which they serve (Kramer 1994:29). It also complicates communication across employees especially in the horizontal sense (Kramer 1994:9).
Another disadvantage is that employees can undertake decisions that only serve their best interests at the detriment of the entire organisation (Robbins 1983:21). Finally, it can destroy enthusiasm and power of self-involvement among the employees (Steiner 1972:16) Merits and De-Merits of Matrix Structure It helps in responding to change in two or more environments, for instance, a power utility company using matrix model can anticipate both possible geographic challenges and limited capital.
By the fact that it splits the financial function on one axis and the geographic factors on the other, the organisation benefits from having both aspects intertwined (Kramer1994:12). This study believes that such departmentalisation allows the company to determine if it has sufficient capital to settle license expenses and at the same time develop the area. Another advantage is that matrix structure results in a more efficient utilisation of resources. This is so because it encourages sharing of skills across departments, for instance, specialized employees and effective equipment can be utilised in all departments.
This means that if a technical engineer, say, for printing machines in a company is needed in another department, he can easily move to that department to settle the technical problem without wasting time on low priority tasks as might be the case with nonmatrix setting(Knight 1977:43). Additionally, this model helps to assign appropriate individuals according to the demands of the project; this enhances speed and flexibility in performance (Ford 2010:7). Other benefits include motivation and more enthusiastic managers, employees become more involved in the day-to-day running of the business hence improving their performance (Nissan 1995:5).
Matrix structures are very expensive to maintain due to the more complex requirements of reporting (Stuckenbruck 1982:16). Secondly, it has a poor chain of command that may lead to conflict of interests, for instance, employees may not know whom to consult because there is nobody in charge (Jerkovsky 1983:90). This also echoes another disadvantage in that it translates to role ambiguity and conflict, for instance, one manager can give this instruction to the employees and another manager gives other instructions to the same employees leaving them confused.
In other words, it creates a conflict of loyalty between line managers and project managers, so to speak (Ford 2010:7). Another disadvantage is that the freedom given to the employees may make it very hard to monitor them (Ford 2010:7). Conclusion It can be seen that both hierarchical structures and matrix structure have got advantages and disadvantages. This study believes that matrix structure is the best essentially because of its value for effective leadership and employee self-involvement. These two aspects are very important to an organisation’s survival and productivity.
Organisations cannot neglect either of the structures since they have a lot of good things. In this regard, this study recommends that they be used such that the advantages of hierarchical structure become the strengths for the disadvantages of the matrix structure and the vice versa. Bibliography Bridges E. , Doyle W. and Mahan D. (1968). Effects of Hierarchical Differentiation on Group Productivity, Efficiency and Risk Taking. Administrative Science Quarterly, 13: 305-319. Burton Richard M. , & Borge O (1998). Strategic Organizational Diagnosis and Design. 2nd ed.
Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers Chi T. & Nystrom, P. (1998). "An Economic Analysis of Matrix Structure, Using Multinational Corporations as an Illustration. " Managerial & Decision Economics Ford R. (2010). "Cross-functional structures: a review and integration of matrix organization and project management”>. Journal of Management, Vol. 3, 1-22 Jerkovsky, W. 1983. Functional management in matrix organizations. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 30 (2): 89-97. Knight K. (1977) ed. Matrix Management: A Cross-Functional Approach to Organization. New York: PBI-Petrocelli Books
Kramer Robert J (1994). Organizing for Global Competitiveness: The Matrix Design. New York: Conference Board Locke E. (1968). Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 3: 157-189. Nissan D. (1995). "A Regional Slice of the Global Pie. " Financial Times Robbins Stephen P (1983). Organization Theory: The Structure and Design of Organizations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Stuckenbruck, L. C. (ed. 1982). The implementation of project management: The professional's handbook. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley
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