Organizational Structure Of An Office: Meaning And Types

Table Of Contents

  • Meaning Of Office Organizational Structure
  • Procedure For Organizing Office Activities
  • Principles Of Organization
  • Types Of Organizational Structure Of An Office

Meaning Of Office Organizational Structure
Office functions are performed by collective activities of a large number of individuals. It is through organization that the efforts of individual workers can be coordinated and efficiently channelled towards achieving the corperate objectives.
Office organization structure involves dividing office functions into units or sub-units; appointing unit heads to whom responsibilities, duties and authority are assigned; and defining the relationships between the heads and the subordinate members of the units.
Basically, organization structure is the way and manner the lines and responsibilities have been defined within an organization.
Procedure For Organizing Office Activities
For effective organization of office activities, The following steps should be followed:
1. Group essential activities of the office and classifying them into major functional units or departments.
2. Select suitable workers for each unit or department, and allocate duties and delegate authority to them according to individual ability.
3. Provide the necessary equipment and machines and a suitable working environment for effective performance of the office functions.
4. Preppare an organization chart taking into consideration the principles and techniques of organization.
A good organization structure promotes Total Quality Management (TQM) and goal congruence.
Principles Of Organization
In planning office organization and in making decision on the organizational structure to adapt, the office administrator should be guided by the following principles:
1. Unity Of Objective: Efforts at al levels of organization structure must be coordinated and directed toward achieving the corporate objective.
2. Efficiency: The office organization must be structured in such a way that workers perform efficiently and their set objectives with minimal costs.
3. Span Of Control In grouping and allocating duties to the units, the span of control must be appropriate to the quality of staff, variety of work and the capabilities of the supervisor. Span of control is the number of subordinates that can be effectively supervised by an executive. This is usually put at six and not more than 20.
4. Scalar Chain Of Authority: There should be clear lines of authority from top to bottom in the organization structure. Every subordinate should know who is his immediate boss and to whom all official problems would be referred to for decision.
5. Unity Of Command: In delegating authority and assigning responsibility each person should have only one superior from whom he receives orders. It is always confusing if instructions are issued by different supervisors.
6. Functional Definition: It is important to clearly define the duties and responsibilities allocated to every position and its relationships with other position. This with a view to avoiding any role conflict and overlapping of functions.
7. Parity Of Authority And Responsibility: Authority should be equal to responsibility. Each subordinate should have adequate authority to discharge the responsibility assigned to him, otherwise, the subordinate would be frustrated and may lose his initiatives.
8. Flexibility: The organizational structure should ensure easy adaptation to the dynamics of business environments. This is important in these days of rapid changes in economic and technological trends.
9. Leadership Facilitation: The organization structure should facilitate the growth of leadership position of management.
10. Authority Level For Decision Making: The organization structure should ensure that decisions are made at the lowest possible level of authority. The decision making process moves from buttom upward. It is only when decision cannot be made at a lower level of authority that it should be moved upwards to the next higher level.
11. Balance: There should be the right degree of centralization and decentralization appropriate to workflow requirements. There should be an even distribution of works.
12. Specialization: The best use of the specialist abilities of each individual should be made.
Types Of Organizational structure Of An Office
It is difficult to clearly identify types of office organizational structure. This is because each organization has to evolve the structure that is suitable to its requirements. This may involve a mixture of the following braod patterns of which are labeled for sake of convenience as:
1. Line Organization
2. Functional Organization
3. Line And Staff Organization
4. Committe Organization
5. Staff Organization
1. Line Organization
The line type of organization structure is the oldest as well as the most common type of organization structure. It is also known as the “Scalar” or “Military Type” as it is usually found in the army. Its main feature is that the line of authority and responsibility flow vertically from the top executive to the lowest subordinate throughout the entire organization structure. Authority and responsibility are greates at the top and reduces at each successive lower level of management. Each staff is answerable to the immediate boss and any matter to be communicated is made through the line until it gets to the top.
Advantages Of Line Organization
1. It is simple and easy to set up and is easily understood by employee.
2. The scope of responsibility, authority and duties are clear cut and recognized the staff. Each employee knows to whom he is responsible and who is responsible to him with the result that it is easy to fix responsibility.
3. It enables action to be taken promptly and thus increases the effectiveness of the organization.
4. Discipline is easier to maintain. This is because each subordinate knows his immediate superior from who he receives instruction.
5. It is a stable kind of organization. There is unified control as the final authority rests in the top executive.
6. It facilitate effective delegation since direct control and inspection can be maintained over the work delegated.
Disadvantages Of Line Organization
1. Responsibilities tend to be rigid and inflexible.
2. In complex organization, coordination and cooperation between different departments may prove difficult as there is the tendency for line managers to act somewhat differently.
3. There is likely to be autocratic and dictatorial behaviour of the department manager. As he is the sole decision maker, he is free to ignore the views of the subordinate staff down the line.
4. Executive may be over-loaded with duties.
5. It does not foster specialization as one person take decision on different types of work relating to his area of responsibility.
6. The lack of communication from buttom upwards may give rise to wrong judgement and decision-making on the part of higher executives.
2. Functional Organization
Functional organization is a type of structure that exists when authority is exercised across organizational lines. Functional organization exists where the primary objectives of the organization has been determined and specialists in their own fields are appointed to be responsible for their specialized activities throughout the entire business concern. Thus the specialist will be in direct contact with supervisors and staff in operating departments and has the authority to give them direct instruction on matters specifically relating to his special functions without reference to their line managers. This contrast sharply with linw and staff organization where the specialist acts in advisory capacity of the line manager who may accept or reject the specialist advise.
An example of functional organization is depicted in a pattern where an accountant and a personnerl manager would have authority over all accounting function and personnel management function in all departments of the business. Thus the personnel manager has the right to post or transfer a staffin th departments and to lay down policies, system and procedures in respect of personnel matter and to ensure their implementation throughout the organization.
Advantages Of Functional Organization
1. It promotes division of labour and specialization. Maximum benefits of specialization.
2. It makes for higher efficiency as individuals and departmental executives perform limited number of functions.
3. It ensures standardization of operations, methods and equipment in all the sub-divisions of the business.
4. It affords the best use of the experts advice to line executives.
5. There is better control and coordination of activities.
6. It facilitates implementation of a decision or policy. This is because the functional expert can by pass the line manager to issue instruction to lower level employee and expect them to comply forthwith.
7. It shortens the span of communication and reduces delay in response. Lower level employees can by-pass their immediate supervisors by making direct contact with the functional expert in the organization.
Disadvantages Of Functional Organization
1. There is overlapping of authority conflicting instructions, which are often given by two or more supervisors. This may put the subordinate in a position of making “who is my boss”, which is against the principle of unity of command.
2. Its operation is too complicated and may not be easily understood by subordinates.
3. It is difficult to fix responsibility and may give rise to “buck passing”.
4. The over-specialization causes confusion.
5. It can weaken discipline in the organization.
6. It interferes with the line managers authority and leads to conflict of authority.
Noe that Functional Organization is sometimes loosely called staff organization.
It is sometimes difficult to differentiate clearly between the two. The major difference is that in functional organization the specialist heads a service department by virtue of his specialization and can carry out his duties in another manager’s department.
3. Line And Staff Organization
Line and staff organization combines the advantages of line organization and functional organization. This form of organization structure takes on the character of line as well as functional organization. Since a line manager may not be competent in all aspects spheres of business, it becomes necessary that specialists personnel like: Legal adviser, publi relations manager, industrial psychologist, etc, they interact with line executives in achieving the objective of the line department. The function of the specialist staff is mainly to offer advice, based on his experience and expertise, to the line manager in order to make the line manager’s work and department efficient and effective.
Note that line and staff are not distinguished by what functions they perform but by their authority relationships. In practice, therefore, the specialist staff cannot by-pass the line manager and issue directives to subordinates under the line executive.
Advantages Of Line And Staff Organization
1. It is more flexible and modifies the over concentration of control inherent in the line organization.
2. It permits the use of experts or specialists, thereby enriching the decision-making capacity and competence of line managers.
3. It promotes division of labour and specialization in a business enterprise.
4. Line and staff organization promote cooperation and inter-departmental coordination and facilitates expansion because of the availability of specialists.
5. Discipline and unity of command is maintained as the line manager’s authority is not eroded. The control of the department remains with the departmental head.
Disadvantages Of Line And Staff Organization
1. Advice by specialists may be viewed as idealistic or unrealistic and can lead to inter-personal conflict in the establishment.
2. Although the line manager takes full responsibility for his actions, there is a tendency of shifting the blame if implementation of specialist’s advice back-fires.
3. The line manager is not bound to follow the specialist’s advice, thereby rendering such expert advice insignificant and a fruitless exercise.
4. Where a specialist is powerful and coercive, he may erode line manager’s authority, make him lok incompetent and creates conflicts.
5. Where there is sharp difference of opinion between the line and staff officers, this form of organization can be confusing to the workers.
4. Committee Organization
A committe is a body of persons to whom specific functions have been assigned to discharge collectively as a group. It usually acts within the powers conferred upon it by the appointing body. Committees organization occurs where management decisions are made by group instead of being made by an individual. Committee members may be appointed, selected or elected according to the regulationns
Types Of Committees: There are standing committesm ad-hoc committees, executive committees, management committees, etc.
Factors For Effective Operation Of A Committee Organization
1. Suitable subject matter clear terms of reference.
2. Well defined duties and authority
3. Chosen membership
4. A capable chairman
The Committee Organization is suitable for decision on broad issues like setting objectives and policies, review of activities.
Advantages Of Committee Organization
1. Committee thrives on and promotes co-operative effort among its members.
2. It encourages the use of specialists and pooling of knowledge and experience.
3. It encourages participation and division of labour.
4. It leads to more detailed and thorough investigation and analysis of problems by members.
5. The principle of joint responsibility makes every number to feel committed to carrying out the assigned duties.
6. It improves communication.
7. It motivates appointed members by their being recognized in the organization.
Disadvantages Of Committee Organization
1. The use of committee may be time wasting as failure to meet deadline for reporting back may cause delays and set-backs.
2. It can lead to a weakening of the authority of the parent body. Delegation to a committee can erode part of the powers of the board.
3. The use of committee can be very expensive.
4. Committee deliberations may be dominated by the more vocal members so that committee report heavily reflects their views partisan interests.
5. An inefficient board or executive may shift blame for wrong decision to a committee.
6. No single individual is accountable or responsible for the action or decision of a committe.
5. Staff Organization
The concept of staff organization has arisen out of the complexities of modern large scale business and the need for cooperative effort. As an organization grows in size and complexity problems and pressures increase. So staff assistants and specialists are required to help the line managers to perform their duties effectively in attaining the objectives of organization.
The abilities of specialists can be built into organizational framework by aplying the concepts of staff structure and authority. Staff position in the organization is advisory and it exists mainly to bring into the organization the specialized training that the line managers lack. Staff relationship exists where specialists support line managers as in the line and staff and functional organizations.
However, there are some characteristics that distinguish the basic staff organization:
1. A staff position is always related to a line position whose occupant has authority over the staff position.
2. Staff has authority to make recommendation within its area of specialization but does not have the authority to impose these recommendation on the line executives or powers to enforce the implementation of the recommendation unless provisions have been made for functional authority.
3. Staff position infuses specialization in management activities. It complements the work of line executive by relieving him of some of the specialized activities which the line executive may not be technically qualified or for which he might not have the time even though he may have the competence.
Advantages Of Staff Organization
1. There is the use of expert services by management. Workload is simplified as there is assistant to line manager.
2. It is suitable for large size enterprise.
3. There is overlapping of responsibility because directives given by, to line executive are carried out. So an employee rarely responds to more than one superior.
Disadvantages Of staff Organization
1. It is costly to operate. Whether the staff specialists perform or not the over-head costs remain the same.
2. It can sometime create confusion because the staff specialist is not responsible for the implementation of his recommendation.

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