Differentiation between Line & Staff

The differentiation between line and staff is necessary for the following reasons: 

1. To Provide Specialized Services: In managing the complex organization in dynamic environment, a manager’ requirement of knowledge is varied and it is not possible for him to have all such knowledge. For this purpose, a manager needs the services of specialists. Such services are needed throughout the organization. However, both managers requiring and using such services and specialists providing the services must understand the nature of relationship existing them, otherwise they may lead to conflicts reducing organizational efficiency. 

2. To Maintain Adequate Checks and Balances. Sound management requires the system of countervailing forces in the organization so that authority delegated to individuals or groups is kept within prescribed bounds by counter-balancing authority. The system of checks and balances requires that ‘each force or activity throughout the organization is opposed by a counterforce which operates as a check and thereby sets up a balance of force. Through the balance of forces, the energies of each activity are regulated. ‘Effective control, in particular. requires appropriate checks and balances of this kind. The authority for planning and doing is separated to some extent under line and staff. Managers performing duties need assistance from persons who are not directly under their control. 

3. To Maintain Accountability. Organization being a co-operative endeavor requires the services of various persons. Each person has a definite role to play in the organization. This casts certain responsibilities on him. However, the responsibility should be clearly defined in the context of contributions. Thus persons should be identified who are accountable for end results. It ensures that persons would exercise authority for end results. The line and staff relationship makes this identification possible.

There are many reasons for misunderstanding and difficulty in identifying line and staff. Many managers fail to identify the clear distinction between line and staff which often leads to overstepping the use of authority leading to conflict between line and staff. Difficulty in identification of line and staff arises because of the confusion in the type of organization structure, failure to identify authority limitations, and classification of line and staff.