(Solved Homework): A) What conflicts may arise between line and staff functions. Are they always easily…

A) What conflicts may arise between line and staff functions. Are they always easily identified in various types of business enterprises? Why or why not? Justify the existence of both line and staff departments.

B) Considering the contemporary organizational perspectives, can they be used to eliminate such conflicts between line and staff functions? Explain your answer and use an example.

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Expert Answer

A. The level of authorities is one of the primary factors that ensure the success of a certain type of Organization when efficiently implemented in the system. Accordingly, based upon the authority, Organization could also be divided between line and staff functions apart from various other classes of division. Sometimes one gets authority since we work within a line of authority in a particular function while sometimes if the purpose of an authority is to give direction, then it is possible that some people can be given the authority to advice because of their expertise in the field which is not commonly available in the line authority and this type of Organization is called a staff organization.

However, the functional duties undertaken by these two organizations, being different in nature, there are often chances of disputes. While Line functions directly influence the achievements of objectives, the staff functions only support the Line functions by giving timely advises and direction to achieve the same to the Line Organization. The disputes arise as there is a thin line of difference between direction and supporting functions and often, it could not be even distinguished in the Organization thereby giving rise to the role importance of either of the functions. The line functional managers are generalists while that in case of staff are specialists. Hence the scope of line managers are more to explore all aspects of the managerial activities while that of the staff is limited and focused thereby giving rise to disputes. Further, Line functions enable the managers to direct others while the staff functions can only assist the Line organization but plays no direct role in achievement of the Organizational objectives thereby enabling the line managers to come more into the lime-light and get direct recognition from the management while the staff, being only the support assistants, may not get the due credit for their inputs thereby causing disputes. The line functions could be delegated to the lower management levels in terms of authority while in case of the staff managers, as they have to serve the authority, a feeling of resentment could arise in the staff managers as to why do they have to perform all the activities on their own while the Line has the opportunity to delegate and ease their burden. On the other side, as staff managers could undertake the overall planning part keeping on mind various constraints and advantages of the activities, the Line managers may feel they are not being involved much into the Organizational building up activities as they are only expected to carry out the activities to achieve the goals but most of the planning activities involve only the staff managers as they are in the position to give specialist advices to the Company.

Moreover, conflicts arise due to lack of accountability between both the managers and dilution of the authority, if any. Further, the staff organization managers have a myopic approach and fail to analyze a problem from various angles other than the one they specialize upon thereby making it difficult for the line managers to implement the same. There could be a dearth of efficient staffing in the system thus giving rise to the conflicts of practical implementation of the advices; the Line managers may also not be in a position to accept a new idea that the staff manager advises due to natural resistance to change.

It is to be noted that these types of disputes are not easily identifiable in an organization as there is a thin line of difference at times, in the distinction of authority of line and staff. It may often overlap with each other and sometimes, on the face of it, although the advices may look a specialist solution to the problems of the Organization but when it comes to practical implementation of the same, there arise the issues. Hence in such a case, it becomes difficult to hold one of the parties responsible for the failure thereby making it difficult to understand the origin of the problem as to whether the unrealistic advices are the root cause of the conflicts or the inefficiency of the line managers to perform the same since on the face of it, both of them seem to be working upon their respective roles.

B. Yes, considering the contemporary perspectives, these conflicts could be eliminated to a great extent. The Organization’s management should clarify the functions and authorities of both types of managers i.e. the line as well as the staff managers to undertake their respective roles. For example, the overall range of the authority of Line manager should be specified as well as that of the Staff manager. Further, in case of line mangers, they should be given the independence to accept or decline the advices of the staff managers based upon their discretion and convenience and should be given the responsibility for the overall decision-making to achieve the objectives.

As mentioned earlier, insufficient use of staff efficiency could also give rise to the conflicts hence the Line managers should maximize the efficiency of the staff team so as to ensure higher feats of success in realizing the Organizational goals. While on the other side, the staff should also be efficient in not only analyzing the problems faced by the Organization but by also coming up with realistic solutions that makes it comfortable for the Line managers to implement in the system thereby reducing the conflict factors. Finally, when the accountability of the staff increases, they would be more particular about their advices and recommendations to the Line managers thereby ensuring lesser conflicts into the system.

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