What Is Matrix Management?


Quick Answer

Matrix management is an organizational structure in which multiple reporting lines and superiors exist for an individual in the organization. The reporting lines are identified in a chart as either solid or dotted, implying a strong or weak reporting relationship.

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Full Answer

The most complex version of a matrix management structure involves a solid-line reporting relationship to more than one superior. However, this structure is difficult to maintain, as there is a break in the chain of accountability. In a matrix organization structure, there is no single line of accountability that can be traced through the organization. Staff operating under this system are also likely to encounter conflicts over formal priorities.

Matrix management systems developed due to the growth of organizations across multiple product lines or international expansion. This growth created a necessity for coordination across multiple operational groups to ensure HR policies or IT standards remained the same. Department or function heads developed a reporting relationship to an HR or IT staff member at the group level. This was in addition to a traditional reporting line to a regional or national director. The increased need for coordination eventually developed into a group-level matrix management system in which dual reporting became the standard.

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