Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation

The Chain Of Command

The chain of command is a common term for the vertical reporting an authority relationship in organization chart. The chain of command is the unbroken line of authority that ultimately links each individual with the top organizational position through a managerial position at each successive layer in between.

The concept of chain of command stems from two basic principles: unity of command and the scalar principle. Unity of command means that an individual should have only one boss at any given point in time. The scalar principle states that there should be a clear line of authority from position of ultimate authority at the top to every individual in the organization.

Elements That Determine Organizational Structure

This section is based largely on Kathryn M. Bartoland David C. Martin, Management, McGrawHill, Inc., 1991,334 363.

Structure is more than an organizational chart. Organizational structure is considered by many to be "the anatomy of organization, providing a foundation within which the organization functions" similar to the anatomy of a living organism. Thus, the structure of an organization can be viewed as a framework. The idea of structure as framework "focuses on the differentiation of positions, formulation of rules and procedures, and prescriptions authority".

Here organizational structure is viewed as having fourelements:

  1. The assignment of tasks and responsibilities that define the jobs of individuals and units.
  2. The clustering of individual positions into units and units into departments and larger units to form an organization's hierarchy.
  3. The various mechanisms required to facilitate vertical coordination, such as the number of individuals reporting to any given managerial position and the degree of delegation of authority.
  4. The various mechanisms needed to foster horizontal coordination, such as task forces and interdepartmental teams.