Making Matrix Structures Work: Creating Clarity on Unit Roles and Responsibility

Managers often find matrix structures ambiguous, confusing and inefficient. A key reason for these problems is the lack of clarity on the roles that each unit in the matrix is intended to play. An approach is therefore proposed to describing unit roles, responsibilities and relationships in a way that is clear, but not excessively detailed and hierarchical. A new taxonomy of eight different types of unit roles is also put forward. The taxonomy forces more clarity about basic differences in roles between units, and also helps in laying out different possible organisation design options in a powerful and concise way. It is therefore an essential component in making the matrix structure work. How to achieve sufficient clarity about unit roles without descending into a level of detail that is excessively bureaucratic and inflexible is discussed. It is neither feasible nor desirable to design an organisation in great detail from the top down.

Goold, M. & Campbell, A. (2003) Making Matrix Structures Work: Creating Clarity on Unit Roles and Responsibility, European Management Journal, June.

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