Formal Organization – Line Organization

Line organization is the simplest framework for the whole administrative organization. Line organization approaches the vertical flow of the relationship. In line organization, authority flows from the top to the bottom. It is also known as the chain of command or scalar principle. In this article, we will talk about a line organization.

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Line Organization

Line organization structure is the oldest and simplest form of organization. In these organizations, a supervisor exercises direct supervision over a subordinate. Also, authority flows from the top-most person in the organization to the person in the lowest rung. This type of an organization is also called a military organization or a scalar-type organization.

line organization

Advantages of a Line Organization

  • Simple to work
  • Economical and effective. It also allows quick decisions and efficient coordination.
  • Conforms to the scalar principle of organization. Further, it promotes the unity of command.
  • In a line organization, the responsibility for the performance of tasks is fixed upon definite individuals. Therefore, there is accountability of delegated tasks.
  • There is excellent discipline in a line organization due to unified control and undivided loyalties.
  • The overall cost of running the organization is low due to the non-involvement of staff personnel.
  • It is a stable form of organization.

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Disadvantages of a Line Organization

  • A line organization can suffer from a lack of specialization. This is because each department manager is concerned only with the activities of his own department. Therefore, employees are skilled in tasks pertaining to their departments alone.
  • These organizations can overburden a keyman or a few key-men to the extent of their breaking point. Also, in the absence of a staff aid, if a strong man seizes the organization, he can run it arbitrarily. Such arbitrary power can lead to a considerable damage to the organization.
  • Such organizations usually suffer from a lack of expert advice. If the line manager has trouble making a decision, there is no expert staff that he can turn to.
  • A line organization is usually rigid and inflexible. In fact, such organizations maintain discipline so rigorously that they can rarely change.
  • These organizations are based on the autocratic system of management.
  • The division of work is not based on any scientific plan but on the whims of the manager.
  • It might stop progress and prevent the unit to work effectively.
  • Such organizations might also encourage nepotism or favoritism based on relationship or friendship.

Line Organization structure is useful in the following scenarios:

  • The scale of business is small and the number of subordinates and superiors are few.
  • In continuous process industries
  • Organizations where work is primarily routine in nature
  • Highly automated environments where the skills of the foreman are not important
  • Labor management problems are easy to solve

Solved Question for You

Q1. What is a line organization?


In a line organization, a supervisor exercises direct control over a subordinate and the authority flows from the top-most position to the lowest. It is also called a military or a scalar-type organization.

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