Matrix Structure

Topics: Max Weber, Organization, Organizational studies Pages: 3 (788 words) Published: September 12, 2010
Matrix management is a technique of managing an organization (or, more commonly, part of an organization) through a series of dual-reporting relationships instead of a more traditional linear management structure. In contrast to most other organizational structures, which arrange managers and employees by function or product, matrix management combines functional and product departments in a dual authority system. In its simplest form, a matrix configuration may be known as a cross-functional work team, which brings together individuals who report to different parts of the company in order to complete a particular project or task. The term "matrix" is derived from the representative diagram of a matrix management system, which resembles a rectangular array or grid of functions and product/project groups.

The practice is most associated with highly collaborative and complex projects, such as building aircraft, but is also widely used in many product/project management situations. Even when a company does not label its structure a matrix system or represent it as such on an organization chart, there may be an implicit matrix structure any time employees are grouped into work teams (this does not normally include committees, task forces, and the like) that are headed by someone other than their primary supervisor.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, during the U.S. industrial revolution, a need emerged for more formalized structures in large business organizations. The earliest models emphasized efficiency of process through managerial control. Described as "mechanistic," those systems were characterized by extensive rules and procedures, centralized authority, and an acute division of labor. They sought to create organizations that mimicked machines, and usually departmentalized workers by function, such as finance and production. Important theories during that era included German sociologist Max Weber's (1881-1961) ideal...
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