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”.
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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