Conflict between Staff and Line Managerial Officers

Topics: Staff, Commanding officer Pages: 6 (1481 words) Published: April 7, 2004

The article "Conflict between staff and line managerial officers" from Melville Dalton describes the situation of staff organizations in the 1950s. In this time staff organizations are relatively new and were "a response to many complex interrelated forces" . The goal in demanding specialists in form of "staff people" was to create higher production and more efficiency. This introduction of a new organizational structure is related to some problems which occur. The following questions treat these staff-line tensions.

Analyse the organizational conditions of the two groups?

General Relation Line-Staff Officers

The new structure based on experts in form of staff specialists and traditional line officers. The line officers are busy administrators which are responsible for parts of the existing organization and production. They have authority over the production process. The staff specialists are experts in their fields and have no direct authority over the production or people working there. Some staff specialists have subordinates. The Role of staff specialists is to support and advise line managers and administrators. The support comprises the usage of specialized knowledge to increase production and efficiency.

Formal Structure of Staff and Line Organization.

The hierarchy of line and staff organizations differs in our example plants. While the staff members have only three to five levels of authority, had the line organization five to ten. This had the result that staff members have fewer possible positions for exercise of authority into which they can move. Other consequences of these hierarchies were:

*an increase of personnel in the staff to enlarge authority,

*a faster and disproportional growing of staff groups,

*a trend to higher personal movement from staff to line,

to increase authority and with this prestige and personal income.

Promotion of Staff Officers

The promotion of a staff officer depends on the approval of a top line officer. This influences the relation between staff and line in a controversial way, because on the one hand staff and line officers are not the best friends. And on the other hand can no staff officer be promoted without the approval of a line officer. The reason for that is to create the ability of understanding between staff and line officers. Important are not only the formal problems, the major priority is on informal problems. "Ideally the two organizations cooperate to improve existing methods of output" But this is not reality. More details about the relation between staff and line will be discussed later within the next questions.

Describe why the cooperation does not work?

Authority and Applicability

The article describes two significant reasons why the cooperation does not work. On the one hand is the authority problem. The staff specialist has to act reasonably but he does not get formal authority over the production. On the other hand is not sure that the improvements, which the staff specialist suggests to the line manager, are applicable. "In practise there is often much conflict between staff and line organisations...".

Struggles in Staff-Line Cooperation

But there are also other struggles in the staff-line cooperation. The first is the individualistic behaviour of staff officers. The second is related to the first in the way that the staff officer needs acceptance for his contribution. The reason behind that is to justify their own existence. And the last is the incumbency of the higher staff offices which depends on the approval of line managers. The detailed reasons for these struggles are treated in the next question.

Social and Structural Differences

Beside this facts are also some social and structural differences between both groups. The staff officer is mostly much younger than line officer. As consequence in staff-line meetings, well established line managers often not accept or treated with...
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