In organizational structure, matrix management is a specific structure in which individuals report to more than one supervisor or leader. Hence, in its simplest definition, a matrix organizational structure, people have more than one boss and thus, more than one reporting line.
The Pros: Advantages and Applications of Matrix Management
One application of matrix management is in situations that require or involve cross-functional groups. It essentially provides a solution for resolving situations that do not work well with vertical or linear management. The structure has the advantage of providing a way to organize and manage groups with overlapping functions.
Another advantage of matrix management is that it can be flexible. Take note that there are different types of matrix configuration, including strong, weak, and balanced configurations. There are no strict rules as to how to approach a matrix structure. An organization can define the scope and limits of reporting lines.
The structure also promotes collaboration, thereby making it compatible with a transformational style of leadership. Because of this compatibility, it can also share the advantages of transformational leadership to include the promotion of creativity and innovation, and fostering of organizational change.
Effective and efficient distribution and utilization of resources are additional benefits of a matrix organizational structure. It resolves issues concerning job redundancies, underutilized individuals or teams, lack of coordination toward shared goals and objectives, and imbalanced allocation of other resources such as financials, time, and equipment.
The lack of a vertical reporting line also means that information flows across an entire team or an organization. A matrix structure allows effective and efficient communication, thus making it advantageous for organizations that depend on knowledge or information sharing. In addition, the faster flow of information can speed up decision-making.
The Cons: Disadvantages and Limitations of Matrix Management
A major drawback of matrix management is that it can be difficult and complex to implement. Defining the scope and limitations of different reporting lines, determining the duties of different managers or supervisors, and resolving the points of overlaps among teams or departments are the primary challenges of designing and implementing this structure.
Of course, the structure is also not applicable to all organizations or situations. Its key limitation rests on the fact that it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. For example, it is not applicable in situations that need vertical or linear management or those instances that respond well to a transactional style of leadership.
Another disadvantage of a matrix organizational structure is its tendency toward anarchy. There can be conflicts or power struggles among different managers overseeing the same team or individuals. Some examples of these conflicts include issues with decision-making, authority over resources, and control of teams or people.
The aforementioned advantages of matrix management would not be possible with an improperly designed and implemented structure due to the unclear scope and limitations of the structural components. As an example, the structure could restrict the flow of information and hamper decision-making due to anarchy.
Summary: The Pros and Cons of Matrix Organizational Structure
Below are the advantages and application of matrix management:
• Provides a model for organizing and managing cross-functional teams and resolving situations that do not work well with vertical management
• There are no strict rules as to how to design and implement a matrix structure, thus making it flexible to different situations or requirements
• It is compatible with transformational leadership, thus sharing its advantages to include collaboration and promotion of creativity and innovation
• The structure also allows the effective and efficient distribution and utilization of resources and resolve specific allocation issues
• It can improve communication because information flows across the entire organization, thereby expediting knowledge sharing and decision-making
Below are the disadvantages and limitations of matrix management:
• The structure can be difficult to design and implement because of the complexity that comes with cross-functional situations and shared managerial duties
• Inapplicable in situations that need vertical or linear management or those instances that respond well to transactional leadership
• It has a tendency to promote anarchy due to conflicts or power struggles between managers who oversee the same teams or people
• The aforementioned advantages of matrix management would not be possible with an improperly designed and implemented structure