Suraj’s workplace follows a hierarchy. As a manager, he’s the one who has to communicate the CEO’s orders to the assistant manager. They are responsible for sharing the information with the rest of the team.

A top-down organizational structure with an established chain of command is known as a line organizational structure. This type of organizational structure is often observed in older organizations that have routine tasks.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of line organization. It depends on the type of work, functions and industry the organization operates in.

Find out more about a line organizational structure with examples.


What Is A Line Organizational Structure?


An organization where information is disseminated from one person to the other based on rank and position follows a line organizational structure.

It’s a simple, no-fuss setup where you know exactly who you’re reporting to. You have to be mindful of the levels of management when you want to communicate or exchange ideas. 


Line Organization Chart

             Figure 1: Basic Model of a Line Organization

In smaller organizations, where the work is streamlined and tasks are assigned, it’s the most effective way to achieve your goals. Decision-making responsibilities are static with limited flexibility. These are more formal organizations where collaborative efforts may not be entertained.

One of the most common examples of line organization is small businesses with the owner overseeing daily operations.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of a line organizational structure.


Advantages Of Line Organization


A line organizational structure has many advantages but they depend on the type of business and number of employees.

  1. Quick Decision-Making

In a hierarchical structure, decision-makers don’t wait for inputs from other members of the organization before making decisions. They can rely on personal judgment and take a call. This can be effective when organizations are short on time. There are fixed responsibilities so there’s little to no room for error. 


  1. Upholding Organizational Values

Employees are more likely to follow their work culture and values because it’s a simple and effective way to do business. They’re fully-aware of their responsibilities which helps them complete their tasks on their own. Outside of reporting to senior management, each task belongs to individual employees.


  1. Builds Rapport

A line organizational structure helps build rapport between senior management and employees. The top-down approach helps streamline communication.

Disadvantages Of Line Organization


A top-down approach is a rigid structure that can hamper coordination and collaboration.

  1. Absence Of Expertise

Most of the work done in a line organizational structure is routine. There is no provision for growth and development. Employees are expected to work on the same tasks without upskilling or learning about other aspects of the business.


  1. Discourages Employees From Being Proactive

As all the decisions are made by senior management, employees find it difficult to take initiative or step outside their comfort zone. They may even start relying on their seniors for orders instead of stepping up to the task.


  1. Miscommunication

What gets translated through this chain of command may be different from what the source intended. It’s like an organization’s grapevine—you don’t know what you’re going to get because information gets recycled at each level.

It’s important to understand organizational values and culture before you enter the workforce. Finding out your culture fit can help you thrive in the workplace. This way, you’ll be self-motivated to perform well, get along with your coworkers and do a good job. 


What Is A Line And Staff Organizational Structure?


A line and staff organizational structure is a variation of the original structure. This structure brings in specialized or supporting staff to aid line executives. For instance, a senior manager can discuss ideas and goals with a chief supervisor.

The staff offers specialized/technical suggestions, advice and ideas to the senior management. This branch addresses a lack of expertise in a typical line organizational structure. It improves coordination, encourages communication and helps management drive innovation.


There are two lines of authority within a line and staff organizational structure:

  1. Line Authority

  2. Staff Authority

Understanding Your Culture Fit


Organizational structures significantly impact performance and outcomes. So, learning more about different organizational structures, stakeholders and power structures will help you navigate your workplace. Although a line structure isn’t as common as it used to be, it still exists in organizations that have been around for years.

Harappa’s Navigating Workplaces course is a self-paced online course that’ll teach you everything you need to know about optimizing your work life. Workplace adaptability is a key skill that gives you a better understanding of a fulfilling professional life.

Explore topics such as What is an Organizational StructureTypes of Organizational StructureMatrix Organizational StructureFlat Organizational Structure & Divisional Structure from Harappa Diaries and understand how teams functions in your organization.

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