Advantages of Line and Staff Organisation

1. Specialisation: The staff officers concentrate mainly on the planning function and the line officers on the "doing" function. By this method, specialisation is attained.

2. Flexibility: Staff can be added to the line and new activities may be introduced without disturbing the line procedure. Hence, there is greater flexibility in the organisation.

3. Expert Advice: The staff officers provide expert advice and guidance to line officers and by this, the enterprise as a whole gets benefit.

4. Sound Decisions: In this type, the decisions are made by experts and hence, there is a possibility of making sound managerial decisions.

5. Relief to Line Executives: The Staff officers look after the detailed analysis of each important managerial activity which is a big relief to the line officers.

6. Opportunities for Advancement. In this type, a greater variety of responsible jobs are available and this provides more opportunities for advancement of capable workers.

Line and Staff Organisation

Fig. 5.13 Line and Staff Organisation

Disadvantages of Line and Staff Organisation

1. Confusion: If the pattern of authority relationship between line and staff executives is not clearly indicated, there may be considerable confusion throughout the organisation.

2. Advice Ignored: As the staff officers lack authority to put their recommendations into practice, their advice may be ignored by the line executives.

3. Encourages Carelessness: As the staff officer is not concerned with the execution of the plan, he may not take proper precautions and care before he advises the line officer. Thus, this system may encourage carelessness on the part of the staff officer.

4. Expensive: This type requires the appointment of a large number of experts involving heavy expenditure. Hence, it is quite expensive and small and medium-sized concerns cannot afford it.

5. Conflict between Line and Staff: One more important disadvantage is the conflict between the line and staff officers. The viewpoints of both line and staff of this conflict are given below:

A. The Line Viewpoint. The line managers have the following to say about the staff people:

(i) Staff authority undermines line authority and interferes in the work of line managers.

(ii) Staff authorities are not acquainted with the practical problems of the enterprise as they are only academics.

(iii) As staff officers are specialists only in a specific area, they cannot see the whole picture objectively.

(iv) Advice given by the staff is not always sound. Advice is only theoretical and unrealistic.

(v) Staff take credit if the programme (as per the advice of the staff) is successful and blame the line if it is not successful.

B. The Staff Viewpoint. Staff authorities have the following complaints against line officers:

(i) Line officers do not make proper use of advice given by staff.

(ii) Line officers reject the advice without giving reasons.

(iii) Line officers are slow to accept new ideas and they resist change.

(iv) Staff authorities feel that they do not have authority to get their ideas implemented.

Improving Line and Staff Relationship

For improving the relationships between the two and to resolve their conflict, the following steps may be taken:

1. The limits of authority of both line and staff should be prescribed clearly.

2. Staff authority should be restricted to a purely advisory role.

3. Line officers should give due consideration to staff advice. They should state reasons in case they cannot accept the advice.

4. Line should value the special skills of staff and similarly the staff should try to appreciate the difficulties in implementing new ideas.

5. The advice of staff should be realistic and practicable.

6. Both line and staff should try to understand each other's responsibilities and difficulties and try to co-operate with each other for the achievement of enterprise objectives.

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