Matrix Monday: Making Matrix Structures Work

As part of our ongoing series of reviews on the limited literature available on the matrix, we’re kicking off this working week with a brief summary of Making Matrix Structures Work: Creating Clarity on Unit Roles and Responsibility by Michael Goold (Ashridge Strategic Management Centre) and Andrew Campbell (Ashridge Strategic Management Centre). (European Management Journal, Vol. 21, No. 3, June 2003)

literature on matrix management, matrix structuresThe matrix structure may appear to be a logical organizational solution, yet a lack of clarity on roles can often mean that managers find it confusing and inefficient. This article examines the issue, and argues that a key requirement in matrix structures is to have defined roles and responsibilities.

The authors state that if managers are unclear about their respective responsibilities, there will be conflict about who should take the lead on activities and confusion around decision-making. Case studies of where such situations have arisen are given. They proceed to outline what needs to be specified to managers regarding their broad responsibilities, relationships and accountabilities in order that roles are explicitly defined.

The article also tackles the idea that managers lack a widely accepted language for distinguishing between different unit roles. The authors have devised a taxonomy, or new language, of eight ‘unit types’ in which to aid this process. They call this the ‘roles language’ and contend that it has great value in allowing clearer specifications of how organization designs are intended to work.

You can read the full article here (pdf). We’d love to hear your opinions of the article (summarised here as part of our Matrix Monday series).

If this interests you, you might also enjoy participating in our Matrix Management Group on LinkedIn, and our team of expert consultants is always on hand to discuss your needs.



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