Line Organization

Every organization follows an organizational structure for the effective running and management of the organization.  It is the organizational structure that determines the hierarchy and reporting system in any organization. There are various organizational charts and each company follow the organization structure depending on a variety of factors. This factor could be geographical regions, products or hierarchy. In another word organizational structure depicts the systematic arrangement of work in any organization.

Organizational structure decides the designation of jobs within the organization and relationship among the employees in the organization. The two basic forms of organizational structure are line structure and line-and-staff structure.

Line organization is the oldest, popular and simplest form of organizational structure. Here the authority tree flows from upward to downward. A superior will watch the subordinate. Here a person has direct responsibility to accomplish the goals of the organization. Also known as scalar type of organization here the chief of the organization runs the organization. Here top management has complete control over the subordinates and the command flows from higher to lower level. This kind of organizational structure is very common in small business organization.

The main advantages are of specialization, decisions of quality, and prospects for advancement of the efficient personnel in the organization. Its main disadvantages are the confusion and conflict between line and staff, ignoring staff advice by line managers, lack of responsibility on the part of staff personnel, and it being expensive.

Disadvantages of Line structure:

  • Over reliance
  • lack of specialization
  • inadequate communication
  • lack of co-ordination
  • authority leadership

The line structure organizations are useful for those organizations where all the decisions are decided by the single authority. Only head of the organization is responsible for making any policy and taking any decisions. There is no room for meetings or discussions, all decisions are made by single authority.

The line structure is useful for small business organization most of the medium and large size business organization follow line and staff structure. The line-and-staff organization is the combination of line organization with staff departments. Line and staff structure are more centralized. The decision making process is slower in such type of organization. It involves lots of formality as a result task becomes more time consuming.

Line and staff organization has its own advantages and disadvantages. This type of organizational structure supports excellence in job and guarantees quality work. The biggest disadvantage of such organization is the conflict between line and staff personnel. Sometimes these conflicts could become serious and it could be a set back to the organization’s growth.

Advantages of line organization include:

  • Better control of managers over the activities of subordinates.
  • There is unity of command. There is no conflict among juniors due to conflicting demands placed by seniors.
  • Duties and responsibilities are clearly defined and related to each other.


Cost: Line and staff organization organizational structure is costly in comparison to line structure. There you have to hire and maintain several staff for specific tasks. Staff needs constant training and need to update their knowledge and skills for better outcome.

Decision Making: decision making procedure could be more time consuming. Mostly staff officials are responsible for making final decisions but in few cases line managers heavily rely on the staff advice and if the staff is not efficient enough or are unable to bring sound decision it could bring inefficiency in an organization.


The combined line and staff authority processes can result in confusion as well as disenfranchised employees. Line officials have the power to make decisions, which upsets some staff officials since they tend to put in more mental labor. The different levels of authority can cause confusion among employees who are not sure whether to follow the in-line executive or the relevant staff specialist.

It is important to find an organizational structure that works best for the organization as the wrong set up could hamper the proper functioning of the organization.

An organization would be more successful if it adopts a proper combination of line and staff. While staff can manage working where line executives are not required (for example HR), giving advice to line managers as and when sought. Thus things will work effectively and the organization will be successful.

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