Organization – Key Function Roles

The top leader holds the balance of power. He must be willing to delegate decisions. He must emphasize direct contact and group problem solving at lower levels so as to promote effective communication throughout the organization. He must also see that the power balance is maintained properly.

Functional bosses: These bosses have authority over project employees relative to projects’ goals. They share subordinates in common with other bosses. They do not have full control over subordinates. The functional head’s responsibilities pertain to functional rules and standards. The project manager acts as an integrator. He is required to achieve the specific project by balancing time, costs, and performance. Functional bosses must also be willing to face one another in case of disagreements. Managing highly competent professional employees demands a great deal of time, patience and skill from project heads.

Two boss managers /matrix subordinates: Matrix subordinates are often confronted with an agonizing choice. He must confront senior managers on conflicting demands and reach joint decisions with them. Just like a child adjusting to conflicting demands from parents he is expected to move along with both managers smoothly. In such dual assignments there is usually a lack of jurisdiction clarity. The dual reporting relationship and assignments can cause role ambiguity, concerns for career development and weakening of professional reference groups for employees.


Many people have verbally praised the functional organization forms, from time to time. In fact functional form attempts to achieve the benefits of both the functional organization and the product organization:

Efficiency:  A functional  form or matrix form permits efficient utilization of resources, especially manpower. Resources can be freely allocated across different products. It facilitates the efficient allocation of specialists Specialized knowledge is available to all products / projects on an equal basis. Further, knowledge and experience can be transferred from one project to another. Each project can share the specialized resource with other  units rather than duplicating it to provide independent coverage for each. It allows the pooling and sharing of specialized  resources across products  in a natural, routine way.

Flexibility: Matrix forms encourage constant interaction among project unit and functional  department members. The direct contact between different specialties in the organization  can make for better communication and more flexibility. Information permeates the organization and reaches those people who need to take account of it. Quick decisions can be taken and the organization  can encounter the changing  and uncertain  environment in a better way.

Technical excellence: Matrix structures ensure the maintenance of high technical standards. They facilitate high quality and innovative solutions for technical problems. Frequent interactions among project unit and functional department members encourage  cross fertilization  of ideas. Each specialist is forced to listen understand and respond to the views of the other.

Matrix structure is a way of balancing  customer’s need for project completion and cost control  with the organization’s need for economic cooperation and development of technical capability for the future.  A better balance between time cost and performance can be obtained through the built in checks and balances and the continuous negotiations carried on between the project and functional organizations. The dual lines of authority reduce tendencies of departmental managers to become so busy protecting  their little worlds that goals become displaced.

Freeing top management: Organization Matrix structure permits decision making at lower levels, Since many decisions are made at lower levels, the top management has more time to interact with the environment. The top management need not bury itself in endless daily routine; it can concentrate more on long range planning. Matrix structure facilitates a rapid managerial response to changing market and technical requirements.

Motivation: Traditional organization structures are based on the assumption that position level equals contribution equals rewards. In other words, the higher the individual in the organization, the more authority he has, the greater the knowledge he possesses the more he contributes and the more he should be rewarded. In many organizations this holds good even  today. A 60 year old full time professor receives a fat salary  of Rs 50,000 per month for teaching the organization theory to post graduate students while a 25 year old lecturer  receives only Rs 15,000 per month for teaching  another section of the same course in the university. The reward structure will be more frustrating in case we assume that the young scholar had just published two brilliant research papers while the older had produced nothing in a year. Fortunately in matrix structures emphasis is placed on the authority of knowledge than the position of an individual in the organizational hierarchy. Membership of the team  is based on special knowledge for given aspects of the work. As a result, lower level people can have  a greater  say in important decisions.  The opportunity to participate in important decisions   brings in higher levels of motivation and commitment.

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