Management Concepts & Organisational Behaviour - Line And Staff Relationships

Line and Staff Concepts

   Posted On :  18.05.2018 12:20 am

There are two approaches to understand line and staff concepts. One approach lays emphasis on the basic functions of the business.

Line and Staff Concepts
 
 
Koontz and Weirich have defined line and staff authority as follows: “Line authority becomes apparent from the scalar principle as the relationship in which superior exercises direct supervision over a subordinate an authority relationship in direct line or steps. The nature of staff relationship is advisory. The function of people in a pure staff capacity is to investigate, research, and give advice to line managers to whom they report”.
 
There are two approaches to understand line and staff concepts. One approach lays emphasis on the basic functions of the business. Accordingly, functions of an enterprise are classified into line and staff functions. To quote Louis Allen: “Line functions are those which have direct responsibility for accomplishing the primary objectives of the enterprise and staff functions refer to those elements of the organization that help the line to work most effectively in accomplishing the primary objectives of the enterprise”.
 
According to this approach, organizational objectives are the basic determinants of line and staff functions and with the change in the objectives, line and staff functions may change. A line function in one organization may be a staff function in another. For example, personnel function in an employment agency is line but it is a staff function in a manufacturing organization. In a manufacturing organization whose basic objective is to produce and sell goods, production and marketing are line functions and others such as public relations, personnel, legal, etc., are staff functions. Further, within a department, there many are line and staff functions, for example, in marketing department, selling may be a line function whereas market research is a staff function.
 
The other approach views that line and staff are two kinds of authority. According to this approach, line authority is defined as a direct authority which a superior exercises over his subordinates to carry out orders and instructions. The exercise of this authority is always downwards, that is, from a superior to a subordinate. Staff authority involves giving advice to line managers to carry on the operation. The flow of this authority may be in any direction depending on the need for such an advice. It is common that in actual practice some variations may exist. The variations are more pronounced in the case of staff authority.
 
The distinction between line and staff though not rigid, is important because staff must be provided if the growing organization is to accomplish its goals. The differentiation is necessary for the following reasons.

 

Tags : Management Concepts & Organisational Behaviour - Line And Staff Relationships
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