Line organization structure

Line Organization Structure : Line organization structure is also known as scalar, military, or vertical organization and perhaps is the oldest form. This concept holds that in any organization or hierarchy derived from a scalar process, there must be a single head who commands it, although an executive can delegate authority, he has ultimate responsibility for results. Line organization can be designed in two ways:

  1. Pure Line Organization: under this form, similar activities are performed at a particular level. Each group of activities is self-contained unit and is able to perform the assigned activities without the assistance of others. Pure line organization may be depicted as follows:

  1. Departmental Line Organization : under this form, entire activities are divided into different departments on the basis similarity of activities. Each department is placed under one departmental superintendent. All persons in the department are subject to control by the departmental head. The basic objective of this form is to have uniform control, authority, and responsibility.

Line organization structure has follows characteristics :

  • Lines of authority and instructions are vertical, that is, they flow from the top to the bottom.
  • The unity of command is maintained in a straight and unbroken line. It implies that each subordinate receives instructions from his immediate superior alone and is responsible to him only.
  • All persons at the same level of organization are independent of each other. It implies that all the departmental heads are supreme in their respective areas and independent of one another and are responsible to the chief executive. This applies to all other positions also.
  • This structure specifies responsibility and authority for all the positions limiting the area of action by a particular position holder.

Merits : Line organization structure has following merits or advantages :

  1. Simplicity : This organization is quite simple in both understanding and implementation. Every person is clear about what is expected of him. Since a person is receiving orders and instructions from only one superior, he does not have any confusion in his mind about his role and responsibility in the organization.
  1. Discipline : Since each position is subject to control by its immediate superior position, often the maintenance of  discipline is easy. Unity of command and unity of direction foster discipline among the people in the organization.
  1. Prompt decision : Most of the decisions in such organizations are taken by the superiors concerned. This makes the decision-making process easier and less time-consuming. Moreover, since they have not to consult others or look for others advice, they can make the decision very quickly.
  1. Order Communication : Line organization follows scalar chain method of communication. It implies that communication going up and down will pass through the immediate superiors. This system of communication is easy to maintain, orderly in nature, supports the authority of the superior, and provides for closeness of contact thereby reduction chances of miscommunication.
  1. Easy supervision and control : The line organization provides for easy supervision and control because each subordinate is controlled by a single superior. The superior has direct and close contact with his subordinates which facilitates supervision and control.
  1. Economical : The line organization is quite economical because it does not use staff specialist whose appointment is a costly affair for small organization. Every person in the organization is directly responsibility for his contribution to the organization objectives.

Demerits: Line organization offers many problems and limitations which are as follows:

  1. Lack of Specialization : The line organization does not offer scope for specialization. A manger has to perform a variety of function which may not necessarily be closely interrelated. Any manager, whatever may be his qualities. Cannot cope up with the requirement of various intricacies of business system. The result is that he cannot make a very valid decision for all requirements in the organization. The quality of management, thus, not every satisfactory in this type of organization structure.
  1. Absence of Conceptual Thinking : The managers in this system do not find time for conceptual thinking so essential for organizational growth and development because they remain quite busy in their day-to-day managerial problems. A man’s ability being limited, he cannot meet the diversified and varied demands of his functions because he has too much and too numerous activities to perform. Many times, even the managers are involved in no managerial functions also which not only hamper their efficiency but leave little scope, whatever may be, for concentrating on long-term problems of the organization.
  1. Autocratic Approach : The line organization is based upon autocratic approach. The line of authority, being direct, demands high level of obedience on the part of the subordinates. It leaves little consideration to them which ultimately dampens the initiative on their part. This may also result into one-way communication, that is, only downward communication, and the manager at the top sometimes be devoid  of the actual knowledge of the situation.