Determined superior and subordinate relationships

The term ‘scalar chain’ is a rather old-fashioned one and stems from the days when large organisations were bureaucratic, with lots of layers between the top and bottom. Scalar chain refers to the number of levels within the structure or hierarchy of an organisation. The scalar chain set out the authority, responsibility and the framework that determined superior and subordinate relationships.

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The idea of setting out everyone’s role and position is to make it clear who is responsible for what, and that there is a clear line of authority because an individual’s position was clearly marked on an organisation chart or diagram, it was easy to see where responsibility lay. This is still important in such organisations as the army, where there has to be a clear chain of command. It is less important in a creative advertising agency, where you have a great many creative people generating individual ideas.

The term ‘span of control’ refers to the number of employees who are directly supervised by one person. The manager who tries to supervise too many people may be so overworked that his or her staff are unable to perform their duties effectively. On the other hand, if a manager has too few people to supervise, his or her time may be wasted. The traditional scalar chain and the span of control help to create a pyramid shape of the organisation’s structure. The extent of the chain, and the nature of the span of control, will determine whether the organisation has a ‘flat’ or ‘tall’ structure.

Where the spans of control are broader and there are fewer levels of authority, an organisation will have a flat structure. In contrast, where there are narrow spans control and more layers of authority, There is no single ideal combination of span of control and scalar chain for any one organisation. It is, however, argued that fewer levels tend to improve decision-making, communications and morale. On the other hand, by ‘delayering’ and reducing the number of levels in the chain, this may reduce the opportunities for promotion and positions with high status.

This, in turn, will limit the opportunities for the development of future managers. But due to McDonalds opening atleast 100 new restaurants every year there is always opportunities for someone else to become a manager. Hierarchy is the traditional way of developing an organisation that was so popular for much of the twentieth century. It was popular because the century saw the growth of very large organisations that, in the days prior to the widespread use and application of information and communications technology, were thought to be appropriate because they could ensure command and control of an organisation.

Hierarchical organisations were managed by detailed systems and procedures, and systems thinking dominated much of the thinking about how the organisation should be run. The hierarchy in a business is the order or levels of management, from the lowest to the highest rank. It shows the chain of command within the organisation (i. e. the way authority is organised). McDonalds pass the orders down the levels and information passes It is generally held that, the greater the number of levels in the hierarchy, the less effective the communication process is.

McDonalds hold a hierarchical structure in which they delegate the responsibility to each branch manager who reports to the country manager. * Line and staff relationships: When working for an organisation, you will frequently hear reference to ‘reporting to your line manager’ (i. e. the person to whom you are directly responsible). For example, in a school a classroom teacher may report to a head of department, who then reports to a head of faculty, who might then report to the deputy head teacher in charge of curriculum and then the head teacher, etc. Someone working in McDonalds might report directly to a supervisor or junior manager.

Line organisation is the typical structure of a hierarchy. There are direct communication links between superiors and subordinates. Each member of the organisation has a clear understanding of the chain of command and to whom he or she is responsible. This type of structure can be very effective because of its clarity. There are set rules and procedures that can be referred to. McDonalds uses this technique. The idea is to open up the flow of communications and to try to involve more people in decision-making. Staff organisation primarily serves the various line departments.

Typical staff areas in an organisation include human resources, data processing and office administration. * Matrix structures: Nowadays, many organisations employ matrix structures, particularly where there is an emphasis on project management. A project team is responsible for managing a particular project. For example, companies that make and sell goods employ project managers who pilot particular products from the initial development stage through to final production and sales. The project manager is there to plan, co-ordinate, initiate, persuade and hurry things up.

Project management is highly dynamic. The project manager uses a range of statistical and other tools to plan out how a project will take place (often these statistical tools can be set out using pre-prepared computer programs). Once the plan has been created, the project manager will work with a team to carry the project out. Of course, on a day-to-day basis unforeseen events and incidents will occur that interfere with the original project plan. The project planners must therefore use a great many creative problem-solving skills to keep putting the plan back on track.

The project manager seeks to synchronise and maximise efforts across the various departments and groups involved with putting the plan into action. An organisation that operates purely on functional lines can soon run into bottlenecks and confusion between the various departments, but a project manager can ensure there is co-ordinated planning to bring resources and people together correctly. The project manager is there solely to co-ordinate the activities. The project manager brings people together from across the various functional areas, drawing on their expertise.

It is the project manager who has the responsibility for ensuring the project is seen through by his or her team. Of course, particular individuals can work on more than one project at the same time. In recent years there has been a strong emphasis in business on the idea of business a matrix structure for project process re-engineering (BPR). What this means is identifying what the key processes are for the organisation to meet customer requirements. Having identified these processes it is possible to organise them in the best possible way to help the organisation meet these customer requirements.

McDonalds don’t use this structure. Centralised and decentralised structures: These terms are closely linked to the idea of authority and the amount of delegation taking place. Centralisation refers to the amount of control exercised from the headquarters (or centre) compared to the amount of control left in the hands of the branches or departments of the business. Thus if a company such as a large retail chain, issues very strict and specific instructions to its shop managers about staffing, stock control or fixtures and fittings, it will be considered to have a high degree of centralisation.

Alternatively, if the business allows its managers the freedom to make independent decisions without reference to the central office, then it will be thought to have a large degree of decentralisation or autonomy. Where there is a lot of delegation in a firm, decisions are made at various levels of the firm, which is said to be decentralised. Firms which do not practise much delegation have authority centralised, with the higher levels of management keeping control of the decision making.