Org Types-line functional, Line and Staff


Functional Authority

Functional authority is similar to line authority, but it is exercised over a person who is not the immediate subordinate of a manager. The purchasing manager, for example, has functional authority relating to procedures to be used in purchasing goods for various production departments. The purchasing manager may be given this authority to ensure that goods purchased are of right quality and are suitable for the purpose for which they have been purchased.

Consider another example. Production is a line activity. Security is a staff function. Normally, production manager takes decisions relating to production. But in the event of fire, manager of security would be given functional authority to handle the emergency  situation. He will exercise this authority till the crisis is over. The main reason for using functional authority  is to take advantage of the special knowledge and skill of functional specialists such as purchasing or personnel manager. In practice, however, functional authority is restricted to specialised persons. If too much functional authority is used, the position of line managers becomes weak and they are not able to perform their managerial duties properly.

Line Authority

Line authority is the authority of a manager over his immediate subordinates.  the owner manager has line authority over production manager and production manager has line authority over managers of workshops. Line authority is not the right of managers of line departments only.

Managers of staff departments also enjoy line authority over their subordinates. Line authority is the right of a manager to issue orders and to see that these orders are carried out. If the orders are not obeyed, managers have a right to take action. A manager gets this authority from his superior and shares it with his subordinates.

The owner manager gives his authority to production manager. The production manager shares his authority with workshop managers who in turn share it with the foremen.

Foremen exercise this authority over the workers. Similarly, authority flows from top to bottom in other line as well as staff departments. This chain of authority from top to bottom is known as Scalar Chain. Every order must pass through this scalar chain. This scalar chain also acts as the line of accountability. Subordinates report to their superiors about their performance through this scalar chain. The scalar chain gives rise to a series of superior-subordinate relationships in an organisation.

Staff Authority

Managers of line as well as staff departments have line authority over their subordinates. When the work of line managers increases, staff officers are appointed to help them. The job of staff is to give advice, information, suggestion and guidance.

For example, personnel manager is appointed to help the managers in hiring and training people. He does not have the final authority to appoint people. Final authority is that of line managers. Staff people can only advise. Their advice can be accepted or rejected by line managers.






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