What Is A Matrix Structure?


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Oddman answered
A matrix structure is an organizational structure in which each entity is required to serve two masters. In an Engineering organization of the kind I'm familiar with, each Engineer would report to both a functional manager (for example, Systems Engineering Manager) and one or more project managers (for example, Whiz-Bang Widget Project Manager).

The functional manager may be responsible for certain Human Resources activities, for example, performance evaluation or training, and may also be responsible for assuring each of her people is productively employed. The project manager will be responsible for assuring project completion. The two managers can (and often do) disagree about priority of assignments and/or which individuals should be assigned to what tasks.

The matrix structure organization chart typically shows the masters of one sort along the top, and the masters of the other sort down the side. Each entity in the body of the chart has solid-line reporting responsibility in one direction (to the boss at the top, for example) and dotted-line reporting responsibility in the other direction (to the boss at the side, for example). Sometimes the reporting is "dotted-line" in every direction, or "solid line" in every direction.

Matrix organizations can be rife with politics and power plays as each manager seeks to keep control of "his" resources. The perceived advantage is that pools of resources are available for sharing among projects as project needs change. It works better if work is absolutely standardized and workers all have similar levels of motivation and expertise.

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